In Hangzhou, China, Harbook is illustrative of a new wave of book shops incorporating lifestyle elements to appeal to a new generation of urbanites. Comprising a bookstore, café, and contemporary Scandinavian furniture showroom by way of Normann Copenhagen, it blends aspiration with tradition.
For centuries, the city – and its legendary West Lake in particular – has inspired writers, philosophers and poets. Harbook continues this legacy, expanding the city’s literary culture to include nods to European traditions, yet with a progressive contemporary approach.
Intersecting the otherwise open- plan 600 sqm space are a series of arches, evocative of classical Italian porticos. Thematically connecting Harbook’s urban elements of socializing, cultural exchange, shopping and dining, they create a quite literally immersive dialogue between eras and cultures, providing a sensual journey through the space.
To reinforce the store’s imaginary cityscape theme, stand-alone displays punctuate the space, like abstract sculptures. Their color palette, as well as surprising mix of materials lend a postmodern edge to offset the store’s more classical elements.
A multipurpose space, Harbook has been designed to host a range of activities. With that in mind, the studio features tiered levels for the purpose of furniture display. Adjacent stairs draw the eye to an attractive raised café area, envisaged as a space for meeting with friends, solitary working, or simply reading. Overlooking West Lake, it lends a dream-like, playful quality to the overall design: the space is wrapped in dusky pink, rendered edgy by way of metallic panels. Underfoot, traditional, locally sourced Chinese floor bricks anchor this otherwise internationally minded lifestyle destination to its East China locale.
Above, an LED light installation serves dual purposes. Firstly, it makes for a striking centerpiece; and second, it acts as a metaphor for the enlightenment attained through reading. At a point in time when for many, literature is accessed online, Harbook shines a light on the timeless luxury of books.