The popular cultural magazine Intelligent Life approached us with a request to examine and address the future of the bookshop. In the digital age we now inhabit, bookshops undoubtedly face the threat of extinction with many of us opting for technology over the traditional paper and hardback book. Along with three other creative companies we designed and constructed a high street retail unit that would contribute to the preservation of the bookshop. We considered the eventuality of books being completely out of print in 50 years so we knew a formidable approach was necessary. We knew we had to focus on saving the culture of the book.
Our unique shop that we called Craftword encapsulates the process of printing, binding and making your own book. It exists at the opposite end of the spectrum and represents a retro and social charm. The appeal of the unit is that it does not boast an endless selection of books for perusal but rather it encourages the whole process of creation. The choice of ink and paper becomes the customer’s as does the text that will adorn the pages. You can use your words or the words of another author, you can entrust the selection to the floating robots, or you may be moved by the recital of the in house writer. We wanted as many people as possible to experience the sensation of being enamoured by the smell, texture and turn of the page.
Digital advancement inevitably results in vacuums but there are things we can do to retain the love and interest in purchasing and cherishing tangible books. The incredible stairs serve as seating within the unit that incorporates a bar and a stage. Our work on this project and many others is testament to our unfaltering commitment to becoming the most versatile and committed architects in London.