People love to predict the demise of print. True, large book sellers are shuttering shops, but the number of indie bookshops are on the rise. According to Statista, there were about 2,500 independent bookstores in the United States as of last year; that’s 600 more than 10 years earlier. As for e-books, the Pew Research Center reports that 3-in-10 Americans read them. Still, it’s fair to say that print persists.
Books add soul to a space. Whether glossy coffee table books, leather-bound classics or tattered paperbacks, these tomes are not just for reading—they’re a design element. You needn’t hire a woodworker; there are many chic freestanding shelves on offer from a variety of brands. From Cassina’s re-issue of Charlotte Perriand’s Japanese-inspired design to Gebruder Thonet Vienna’s caned shelf that melds midcentury-modern sensibilities with Italian styling to Nostrum’s 3-D-printed unit that pushes the boundaries of new technologies, there’s a bookshelf that will meld seamlessly—or make a bold statement—in any room.
MOS, Gebrüder Thonet Vienna
Over the past several years, caning has made a serious comeback, but for Gebrüder Thonet Vienna, it never left. From Michael Thonet’s No.1 chair in 1850, the company’s bentwood designs with caned seats have become a byword for Central European modernism. The MOS collection, designed by Danish architect Stine Gam and Italian architect Enrico Fratesi of GamFratesi, couples the Thonet’s design principles with 21st-century sensibilities. The bookcase, made from natural stained or black-lacquered bent beechwood, is accented with elliptical cane side panels, while its brass feet add a subtle dose of flair. $6,449
Juniper, Kenneth Cobonpue
Who says a bookshelf need be just shelves and supports? Not Kenneth Cobonpue, for one. The Filipino designer delights in nature, finding inspiration in ocean waves, baobabs and blossoms. In creating the Juniper bookcase, Cobonpue plays with the idea of an enchanted forest. Indeed, one can imagine Juniper featuring in a fairy tale. However, the bookcase blends fantasy with sophistication. In medium or darkly stained oak, it would enliven a den—and in natural oak, a playroom. From $2,340
Deeper than it is wide, the Nostrum is a modular display system that features cantilevered shelves for odds and ends flanking a central section for books. The piece contains six interlocking components that are 3-D-printed in a trio of colors, resulting in a swirling, oceanic effect. The shelf is designed by Medaarch, a studio based on the outskirts of the Amalfi Coast that is devoted to sustainability and melding digital technology with craftsmanship. $14,740
Crafted from a block of creamy marble, the Portici bookcase celebrates a classic architectural feature—the arch—and then offers it up in an altogether rectilinear new form. The piece looks exquisite standing solo, perhaps as a room divider; left empty, there is nothing to distract from the natural veining on its polished surface. Alternatively, the dozen arched openings instantly elevate any setting or object. In addition to white Carrara marble (shown here), Dimarmo produces the bookcase, which was designed by Sid&Sign, in Sahara noir marble, green Guatemala marble or Calacatta gold marble. From $14,255
Nuage à Plots, Cassina
Parisian architect and designer Charlotte Perriand designed Nuage à Plots between 1952 and 1956. Her inspiration: a series of floating shelves that she saw at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, Japan. Recognizing the design’s rhythmic beauty and versatility, Cassina, which reissued the Nuage in 2012, introduced a new iteration last year. This modular system is composed of oak shelves and vertical boxes fashioned from single pieces of curved aluminum. The “plots” form the superstructure while offering both minimalists and maximalists innumerable styles and configurations for storage and display. $16,390