Juxtaposed: Power by Mike and Maaike


San Francisco designers Mike and Maaike have created a shelf with slots specifically cut to house seven seminal books about power and society.

Called Juxtaposed: Power, the piece is the second in a series of bookshelves for Californian gallery Blankblank, the first of which held works on religion.

Photographs are by Dwight Eschliman.

More about Mike and Maaike on Dezeen:

Autonomobile, a self-driving car (July 2009)
G1 phone for Google (November 2008)

The text below is from Blankblank:

2,451 pages 2,390 years 2,251 wars 432 revolutions 90 empires 7 books 1 shelf

What should we value most--freedom or security, merit or equality? And who should decide--the few or the many, individuals or groups, humanity or God? For the first time, the world's most seminal texts on power and its relationship to the ordering of society are brought together and presented on the same level.

JUXTAPOSED: Power is the second in the Juxtaposed series of curated bookshelves.

Designed by Mike and Maaike
Curated by Athmeya Jayaram.
Produced by blankblank
Reclaimed hardwood
36”w x 5”h x 8”d.
Offered in a numbered, limited edition of 50

Posted on Thursday February 18th 2010 at 1:28 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • nayla

    there is an idea somewhere, but i personally think that these slots should be more flexible :)

  • This is the, what, 20th iteration of the top-of-books-are-level bookshelf featured here?

  • amsam

    A beautiful object, I agree with nayla tho– the idea is fantastic but too limited. Maybe custom slots for the buyers favorite books? Maybe one on each side so the books become bookends for the books in the center?

  • It’s more like an art object than a design shelf.

  • Zaedrus

    That is super sexy.
    Just exquisite.
    All the way down to the routed-out name on top.

    Well, played!

  • 只为存放7本书的书架,这是一件艺术品。

  • Wasn’t this in ID’s “best of” like 3 yrs ago???

  • Too much work for? Pleasure, I guess… :-/
    Anyway, this “too much work” could be more interesting in case if it’s about a limited edition books, (precious items), this will justify kind of Art-work, not a gadget!

    François Beydoun

  • Damn!
    And what if I’m not lucky enough to possess this very specific Hachette edition of Hobbes’ Leviathan?
    I’m just owned.

  • un fit

    A shame really.

    If a design book that was only half as important as those illustrated was published, this ‘shelf’ would not feature. It’s a shame that something of little design merit and intellect has been piggy backed onto the thoughts and words of others who have so much more to say. When I see projects like this, I think it’s little wonder that the design profession has it’s relevance for even academic purposes questioned, let alone it’s relevance to society beyond blogs and books.

    Let us know how much you sell it for.

    Bon voyage

  • Fling

    Er…hello? Da Vinci Code?

  • Clever idea and well executed. Can I get one made for the Harry Potter series? How about my paperback collection of Conan the Barbarian or Ian Fleming novels on James Bond?

  • It is rather an object than a bookshelf.

    It is an oject to store special books, probably.

  • that is realy cool, i never seen something similiar…it is not only a shelf but realy beautiful piece of furniture.
    i think it is brilliant, so what if it is not exactly fit to everry book, i think it is fun design!

  • somedude

    this project is a ripoff of an artist who’s name I can recall at the moment. He put all of the different religious texts, bible, koran, torah, ect. all at the same level…What a shame, not creative, not new, just a bad ripoff, because doing this with religious texts has much more conceptual/intellectual gravity.

  • pino
  • Damfak

    Does the books comes with the shelf?

  • geoff

    @someduded It’s the same artist, but the second series.

  • Nathan


    Please read the article before saying something stupid.

  • EJ74

    @somedude: it’s WHOSE, not who’s. “this project is a ripoff of an artist who’s name I can recall at the moment.” Sorry to be a nerd, it’s just a pet peeve. But I do find it sad when designers can’t come up with something original.

  • terry

    somedude: these are the same designers who did the Religious shelf. So they ripped themselves off is what you are trying to say?

  • somedude

    they should do another one with a bunch of different books on dogs

  • equality and peace

    And does placing such seminal texts, religous or other, on one level bring world peace or equality?

    If you really have something to say or want to make a difference then find another medium.

    A railway sleeper with a few cuts, and some pseudo art nonsense on top devalues art, railway sleepers and dare I say it ‘design thinking’

    For now you’re just playing about and that wins no prizes unfortunately, design, world peace or other.

  • Utilitas

    And would these be the most authoritative editions of these books? Which translation of Plato’s Republic did they opt for? I

    I see modernism’s doing well with the whole “form follows function” schtick.

    Great job guys. Go pat yourselves on the back (or wherever else you pat yourselves, “arty” design people that you are).

  • Nathan

    WTF are you not reading at all!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • This clearly shows the difference between design projects and art projects and how they are not the same thing despite the overlap in disciplines.

    This is a very interesting art project. As a design project, IMO it fails.

  • hugo


    apparently nobody is reading anything anymore, which is ironic considering the nature of the post.

    The authors make a great, risky, challenging and interesting proposal of the scope of our society, probably focusing on the Western cultures (I have very bad eyesight so I cannot make all the titles in the photos). They are taking a stand and in these days that is something.

  • OVER G

    no matter if that is an ripp off or not…
    it is waste of precious material and really usless!!
    Is that the kind of design we want to have ??

    A big block of Wood is able to store 8 defined books, wow great job…

  • un fit

    In response to Hugo, I disagree that ‘the authors make a great, risky, challenging and interesting proposal of the scope of our society, probably focusing on the Western cultures………. They are taking a stand and in these days that is something’.

    This is not a stand at all. It contributes further to an endless procession of useless items, that lack any real level of thought yet generate cash for the representing galleries. This project has very little to do with ‘freedom or security, merit or equality’ and everything to with a horrible disease that is eating up blogs the world over.

  • yammy

    i think its a beginning to a great design concept, but it clearly still is in process..That’s the difficulty with this product. I like, but feel it needs some more functional approach even though it is attempting to be both art & design in one…I have no doubt interior designers will use and people will pay for it in the current state of its design direction, however it could use a little more exploration.

    good try nonetheless…

    (note) those who are ‘unfit’ to accept it…maybe it’s time to start looking for another design site to benchmark….you’re such pessimists and negative contributors.

  • ap

    Thought provoking design is rarely seen like this. The power of the books taking over the wood, shaping its surroundings. Power over the raw wood as power over nature. This is not made as an industrial design object. This is art. Very nice

  • cv

    this is so bad. and yes i get the concept. yes i have a sense of humour. yes i am aware of the literature. this is just bad

  • Nathan

    @ hugo :
    You’re right, it is all about shouting instead of listening!

    @ cv:
    then tell us why you think this is bad. There surely must be a clear awnser for this question. Otherwise your remark is also only about shouting.

  • starving

    great great design, i just don’t understand why it took so long to get on dezeen? i saw this on their site over 3 months ago

  • I enjoyed, “read the article before saying something stupid”.

    For most of the others, how negative can you be? I think it’s a brilliant and well thought out design/art/craft idea and an excellent demonstration of their close relationship. I love the idea that the choice of books was a curators call.

    Design thinker, builder and curator…terrific!!!

  • Martini-Please

    I think many of you are missing the point.

    I also think many of you can’t be decent designers if you can’t see beauty in an object. Or even worse, can’t seem to see that an idea is just as worthy as a mass produced ‘design’.

    I am a designer and a book collector. I also think beauty is underated in design. This idea warms my heart in so many ways.

  • Religion Shelf was one of my “objects of desire”, and I even bid trying to buy one.
    This one is weaker, just like sequels most often lose the power of the original film. Somehow, the definitive quality of the books’ selection is lost, and the overall meaning therefore suffers. Not all editions can be “cast in stone (wood)”.

    It would be better if the original project not become an open series, as I have told Mike already.

  • Alessandro

    It’s so cool

  • Fizz

    At last! A solution to my OCD in having ALL my books at regulation height on the shelf….

  • rona

    i’m in love with it

  • I love this piece, such a great statement. For anyone that was saying that this wasn’t practical, this is art and not a functional bookshelf from IKEA.

    I love the description “2,451 pages 2,390 years 2,251 wars 432 revolutions 90 empires 7 books 1 shelf” statement.

    The books: Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, The Federalist Papers by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, The Republic by Plato, On Liberty by John Stuart Mill, The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx, The Conquest of Bread by Peter Kropotkin, and Social Justice in Islam by Sayyid Qutb.

  • So, who defines what is considered seminal to "power and society"? I guess it's the guy holding the hammer…. some things never change!

  • cigir

    If books are design elements for you, for me not. Useless, wothless design…