Friday, March 24, 2006

BOOKS: Top Shelf

People, I have to tell you: I'm fading fast.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been dealing with Middlemarch, taxes, and the fact that the free ride my maternity leave is ending soon and therefore I must break in provide orientation for young Master Sam's new caregiver, who is a lovely young soul whose privacy I won't violate by talking about here. All that's been bolstering my flagging spirits have been the new season of America's Next Top Model and a steady diet of Cadbury Easter Creme Eggs. I dream of a parallel universe where every night is Wednesday and every meal is sickly sweet goo-filled chocolate.

But this site is called "50 Books" and not "50 Pathetic Whinge-fests", so for you I'll pull up my socks, unbunch my underpants, straighten out my girdle, and soldier on. (Soldiers do wear girdles, right?)

Sometimes, when things get a bit overwhelming and I'm not sure I can see the end in sight, I go into our dining area eating area place where we pile all our crap on the table, and I admire our newly orderly bookshelves. I've already gone on and on about the arduous job of culling the old mess and getting my books in order, so I won't do that again, but as some of you might know, that project was like bellows to the flame of my passion for beautiful, well-designed book storage. I covet. I fetishize. And sometimes I just go, "Whuh?"

Also in the "Whuh?" department, these Ready Made bookshelves kind of baffled me at first. According to the product description:
A filled bookcase is the ultimate reflection of the identity of the owner. Pre-filled with important literary works that together proffer high cultural status, the books in the Ready Made shelf, with spines that swing up when pushed, reveal what you really read.

The more I thought about this design, though, the more I dug it. I mean, I wouldn't want it in my home or anything, but it seems like a witty F-U to designers and individuals who use books as aesthetic objects or mere tokens of cachet. And I'm all about the witty F-U.
It's also funny to me that this bookcase was conceptualized by NEXT Architects and manufactured by Droog Design, both of which are based in the Netherlands, which is also -- coincidence? -- home to legalized pot.

A week or so ago, Lisa posted a comment pointing us toward a new shelving concept from the Canadian home accessories design house Umbra. Called "Conceal", this shelving system was designed to be totally invisible, making your stacks of books look as if they're floating in the middle of your wall.

"Magic!" you say. Why, not at all. The back cover of the bottom book slides under a powder-coated steel shelf and is held in place by a tiny metal tab, as pictured to the right. Then you simply stack more books on top.

"Conceal" was designed last year by Miron Lior, an undergrad at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, as part of a student design competition sponsored by Umbra. I'm not sure I like the idea of storing my own books this way, though it might be nifty with smaller collections, i.e. the coffee table books currently housed on the back of my toilet. But you keep on keepin' on, Miron!

And Rusty sent me this link, bless his soul. If, like me, you've ever had a hankering to build a secret tunnel or room in your house and hide the entrance behind a false bookcase, look no further than Hidden Passageway. (Don't feel bad. I thought it was the name of a porn site at first, too.)
Pull a favorite book from your library shelf and watch a cabinet section recess to reveal a hidden passageway.
Go to the "Videos" section and noodle around for a bit. Man, it's even better than porn. And possibly even better than America's Next Top Model.


Anonymous said...

Do you stack the books on top of the bottom one (for the bookstacks on the wall design), or do you nail one of those little thingies in for each book? Possibly not such a sound idea in parts of the country like mine, where there are earthquakes.

Tammy said...

My understanding is that you build a stack on top of the bottom book. Like you, I live in an earthquake zone, so I definitely wouldn't be putting these over my bed or sofa or anything.

I have friends who have a shelf full of not just books but also heavy objets d'artes over the HEAD OF THEIR BED, and it gives me anxiety attacks just seeing it there.

Joie de Vivre said...

This is why I keep coming to your blog: the perfect combination of my favorite things (in this instance Cadbury eggs and hidden passageways/rooms). When my beloved and I shopped for our house, I fell in love with this crappy old cat-lady house b/c it had a little cubby in the horribly outdated bathroom for hiding your toothbrush and paste. And cadbury eggs? It's a good thing they're only available for a limited time so my gorging not continue all year. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one suffering from the illness (and also that - far away as your are in Canada - you won't be horning in on my supplier!)

Anonymous said...

I can't put my finger on it, but that first bookshelf reminds me of a set piece from The Price Is Right.

I can just see Bob Barker, pushing up the spine of Cry, The Beloved Country and saying, "The actual retail price of the book is $14.99; a difference of -$.15."

Anonymous said...

How do you find these cool shelves? Do you just google them daily? ;)

kdmacken said...

This quite simply may be the single coolest thing I have ever seen on the internet.

It's for Muggles who dream of being accepted into Hogwarts but know they never will be due to their unfortunate lack of talent. Oh my heavens, I just might pee my pants. The secret slide chair is the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life.

When I was a child, my great grandfather's ancient farmhouse had secret rooms. In each bedroom at the back of the closet, was a door into a secret room. I know. So cool.

Anonymous said...

Sweet Valley High!
That Conceal shelving system is HOTTT. I can see so many possibilities... whole new worlds as it were (what I sure as hell can't see is the hardware.)