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Time to judge a book by its cover

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 Put down your kindle, your e-book, your tablet. It’s time to celebrate the printed word, in more ways than one. By Madeleine Boos.

gaile guevara

Artist: Jeremy Crowle – Original Album Cover for Mathew Good

If ever there was proof that books are still beloved, it’s the upcoming Tucson Festival of Books.

In just five short  years it’s become the fourth largest book festival in the USA, drawing 100,000 attendees, authors from around the world, and readings, workshops, speakers, panel discussions and more.

Nevertheless, traditional book publishing is in a state of flux, with the printed word giving way to digital publishing. And it’s no coincidence that in the interior design world, an object that was once everyday and common, is being turned into something hallowed and celebrated – books as decor.

books creative consultant Nicky Freegard

The home of creative consultant Nicky Freegard
Photo by Gillian Drummond

We’re not talking the coveted coffee table books stacked with decorative boxes and vintage cigarette lighters.  We’re talking books as artful design within the interior landscape.

Books are being grouped and displayed by color, by tone and by size as part of the décor. They’re being stripped of their jackets for a monochromatic effect or organized by color spectrum (think paint color wheel) and value (light to dark).

Interior designer Gaile Guevara, based in Vancouver, BC, has an eye for styling and the subtleties of detail. She artfully paired books to complement a painting, creating a composition in her own Vancouver loft.

“As a designer I tend to categorize elements. My partner always organized his books by title and I had always recognized my books by color,” says Gaile. In this instance, they organized their efforts around a shared painting (above).

In the Tucson home of creative consultant Nicky Freegard (above), books are shelved by color, turning the bookshelf into its own wall art.

“Books have always warmed up a room, making it cozy and inviting. Now books provide the interior design and make up the art,” says 3 Story’s Madeleine Boos.

And it’s not just about color, says Madeleine. Thanks to artistic and innovative shelving solutions, books are emerging into the third dimension as wall-mounted sculpture – proof that there is an alternative to mismatched and overbearing bookcases.

Here are our top bookshelf picks:

The Fin by B-Line

the fin

A composition of “fin” shelves adorn a white wall
Photo courtesy of B-Line

Produced by Italian Furnishings Company B-Line , the Fin has changed the way books have traditionally been displayed. Instead of shelves, books are stacked off the wall in any composition one can imagine.


Photo courtesy of B-Line

Measuring approximately 15” wide by 9” tall by 6” deep, the powder-coated steel modular unit has three shelves and comes in white or black. Priced at $330 each, they are available through Sonoma-based Stardust Modern Design.

Contact the showroom at (866) 939-9545, because the web-site does not list all offerings.

The Conceal Bookshelf by Umbra

conceal with red clock

Conceal book shelf
Photo courtesy of Miron Lior

Designed by Miron Lior in 2006 while still a student at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, this shelf floats your books and transforms them into a work of art. The powder-coated steel shelf becomes invisible behind a stack of books.

For Miron “it was a conscious  process of reducing the shelf to pure function and minimal form. ‘Conceal’ was a final version that completely eliminated the shelf from view,” he says. Miron Lior’s designs are often described as expressive minimalism. Conceal was his very first piece. He has gone on to win several awards for his designs, garnering international acclaim.

Conceal measures 5″ x 5″ x 5 1/2″. Mounting hardware is included, and each holds a maximum weight of 15lbs. Priced at $13 online, with a portion of proceeds going to the Pratt Institute, they are available from Umbra.


Conceal Bookshelves. Photo courtesy of Mion Lior


Image 1

Conceal Bookshelf. Photo courtesy of Umbra




The Bookmark Vol.2 by Undpartner

The Bookmark Volume 2 shelf. Photo courtesy of undpartner

The Bookmark Volume 2 shelf. Photo courtesy of undpartner

The Bookmark Volume 2 shelf. Photo courtesy of undpartner

Photo courtesy of undpartner

This futuristic wall-mounted shelf by Austrian design studio undpartner(punkt)at turns your wall into a three-dimensional pattern. Its oblique shape keeps your books from falling. It’s easy to put on the wall and open to any position.

The sculptural steel shelf comes in raw, oiled steel or in colors: cream, pastel blue, pale green, pastel violet.


The Bookmark Volume 2 shelf. Photo courtesy of undpartner

Photo courtesy of undpartner

Priced at  €105.00 (approximately $140), it measures approximately 12″ h x 13″ d x 26″ l. Delivery time is four to six weeks. Contact Barbara Gollackner at [email protected]

* Like what you’re seeing? Now go out and buy some books to create your own interior design. Don’t miss the fifth annual Tucson Festival of Books, March 9-10 at the University of Arizona.


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