It may be a cliché but the new year makes me feel – if only for a moment – a new determination to simplify. Take books for example: what I really should do is edit down my library to whatever fits one bookcase, like this clever “reading ring”
sculpture by Danish architect David Garcia, founder of MAP Architects. According to the artist the work, titled Archive II, “is a circular library for the nomad book collector, allowing the user to step inside, and walk away with half a ton of books.” It’s a conceptual piece and I would need a pillow…But for me weeding out enough books to make a dent will never happen, so how can I de-clutter without actually ditching everything? The eminent and urbane Washington, D. C. Architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen, now partnered with his son Simon, has an answer. His famous egg crate bookshelves, shown here in his own
house, are now available, for the first time commercially, through Archermodern, and without the $10 million dollar houses that usually accompany them (photo courtesy Washingtonian). They can hold a lot of books elegantly: Jacobsen and his wife Robin have more than 4,000. Here’s the
shelving system in another Jacobsen house. Want it! I like the way the structure of the case makes the books appear to float, while the white background sets off the warmly colorful bindings (photo courtesy Jacobsen Architecture). The idea comes from the interlocking square modules in antique
egg creates (photo courtesy Worthpoint). According to Gretchen Cook in Washingtonian, Jacobsen explained the virtue of the compartmentalized approach: “You are always taking books off the shelves and the rest all fall down. With this design, you can remove a whole foot and they won’t.” And some bays can become display niches. San Francisco Architect Malcolm Davis took a more
rustic approach to the slotted crate with this dramatic natural wood-toned two story wall (photo courtesy Malcolm Davis Architecture). In some older houses simply exposing the studs — before or perhaps in spite of building codes — produced a sort of vernacular shelving system.
You can see a somewhat more prosaic use of the crate in many of today’s storage boxes, like this handy “wing-lid” ornament bin from The Container Store.
Yes, my wife and I have been culling and then “crating” the remaining holiday ephemera — easier to do with ornaments than books!