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Interior view of SFC Shangying Cinema Luxe designed by Pulse On

Ten inventive bookshop interiors designed to enhance the browsing experience

A second-hand bookstore styled like a greengrocer and an outlet modelled on old libraries are among the projects collected in our latest lookbook, which explores bookshop interior designs.

Architects and designers across the globe have created bookstores with striking interiors that offer more than just a place to buy things.

From a hall of zigzagged staircases in China to a yellow-hued grotto in east London, here are 10 bookshop interiors that provide immersive and unusual browsing experiences.

This is the latest in our lookbooks series, which provides visual inspiration from Dezeen's archive. For more inspiration see previous lookbooks featuring brutalist interiors, light-filled atriums and walk-in wardrobes.

Supermarket-style shelves holding books in Deja Vu Recycle Store in Shanghai by Offhand Practice
Photo is by Hu Yanyun

Deja Vu Recycle Store, China, by Offhand Practice

Chinese architecture studio Offhand Practice designed a second-hand bookshop in Shanghai to mimic the interior of a greengrocer by displaying items in familiar supermarket-style crates.

Created to counter the "shabby" image commonly associated with second-hand retailers, Deja Vu Recycle Store features a light interior defined by stone off-cut mosaic tiles and natural pine.

"[The project] breaks the stereotypical image of a second-hand store and erases the ritualistic impression of a traditional bookstore full of full-height bookshelves," said Offhand Practice.

Find out more about Deja Vu Recycle Store ›

Stone sculpture in wood-panelled bookstore
Photo is by Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen

New Mags, Denmark, by Norm Architects

Coffee table book distributor New Mags commissioned Norm Architects to design the interior of its flagship store in Copenhagen, which nods to the serenity of old libraries.

Natural oak panels were used to create towering display walls for books. Various publications are also presented on stone plinths that echo a looming, organically shaped stone sculpture by local artist Josefine Winding.

Find out more about New Mags ›

Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore by X+Living
Photo is by Shao Feng

Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore, China, by X+Living

A maze of intricate staircases, amplified by a mirrored ceiling, forms a dramatic backdrop for this bookshop in Chongqing by Shanghai-based studio X+Living.

Thanks to their wide treads, the stairs double as reading nooks for customers, while the overall stepped outline created in the central space intends to reference Chongqing's urban skyline.

Find out more about Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore ›

Bookshop in Italy
Photo is by Žiga Lovšin

Book Centre Trieste, Italy, by SoNo Arhitekti

Another store interior that takes cues from its setting, this Trieste bookshop features boxy shelving that was informed by the diamond brick patterns of the nearby Trieste National Hall.

Slovenian studio SoNo Arhitekti repeated this motif on the shop's two sofas, which have grid-patterned upholstery. It also reserved space for chunky display podiums and a children's reading corner.

Find out more about Book Centre Trieste ›

Interiors of They Said Books shop, designed by Lado Lomitashvili
Photo is by Nakanimamasakhlisi

They Said Books, Georgia, by Lado Lomitashvili

They Said Books is a bookshop-cum-cafe in Tbilisi with an interior characterised by Tetris cube-style shelving, yellowed terrazzo tiles and bubble-shaped reflective wall sculptures.

Georgian designer Lado Lomitashvili created the store, which is housed inside a 1930s building, to support the "cultural development" of the country's capital city.

Find out more about They Said Books ›

Pulse On cinema and lobby
Photo is courtesy of Pulse On

SFC Shangying Cinema Luxe, China, by Pulse On

Hong Kong-based firm Pulse On was informed by the strings of musical instruments when designing the delicate interior of this Shanghai bookshop, which is also the lobby of a cinema.

Thin metal slats extend vertically from floor to ceiling to create bookshelves, while integrated lighting bathes various seating areas in a soft glow.

"We wanted to create a zen resting space for the guests through the mix of 'strings' and 'books'," explained the designers. "All of this boils down to simplicity and purity of lines – no highly-contrasting colours are used."

Find out more about SFC Shangying Cinema Luxe ›

Libreria bookshop
Photo is courtesy of SelgasCano

Libreria, UK, by SelgasCano

Author Jorge Luis Borges' 1940s tale The Library of Babel informed the winding, cavernous interior of Libreria, a London bookshop designed by Spanish studio SelgasCano.

Handmade shelves were crafted in irregular shapes by artists from the Slade School of Fine Art using unfinished recycled wood. They house the store's many books, which are arranged thematically rather than categorised traditionally, in order to encourage "chance encounters while browsing".

Find out more about Libreria ›

Wutopia Lab Books in Clouds
Photo is by CreatAR Images

Duoyun Bookstore, China, by Wutopia Lab and Office ZHU

Five different colours delineate the zones inside this Huangyan bookstore, which includes reproductions of rare books exhibited in a tall, wood-panelled stairwell.

Duoyun Bookstore was designed by Wutopia Lab and Office ZHU to feature layers of perforated metal on its facade – a move that saw two disused buildings renovated to create the shop.

Find out more about Duoyun Bookstore ›

MUDA Architects bookshop
Photo is by Arch-Exist

Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore, China, by MUDA Architects

Chinese studio MUDA Architects topped a lakeside bookstore in Chengdu with a roof shaped like an upturned book that creates a sweeping ceiling on the interior.

Large rectilinear windows are positioned at the edge of the lake to offer views of the surrounding scenery, while the glass extends beneath the waterline to create a peaceful and immersive setting for reading.

Find out more about Xinglong Lake Citic Bookstore ›

Sao Paulo bookshop
Photo is by Fernando Guerra

Livraria Cultura, Brazil, by Studio MK27

The Livraria Cultura – or Culture Bookshop – was designed by Studio MK27 in Brazil's São Paulo to be "a bookstore of the 21st century" that encourages social interactions.

A vast double-height room is defined by wooden bleachers that span the 21-metre width of the space, where customers are invited to stay and read or meet up even after they have bought their books.

Find out more about Livraria Cultura ›

This is the latest in our lookbooks series, which provides visual inspiration from Dezeen's archive. For more inspiration see previous lookbooks featuring colourful living rooms, decorative ceilings and deliberately unfinished interiors.

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