Monday, 29 August 2011

More Book Decor

Novel Ideas: Books as Furniture & Functional Décor

Unloved and unwanted, millions of books are sent to landfills when their text is no longer valuable in itself; the glue in the spine makes them difficult to recycle. But shift their function from repositories for words and pictures to physical building blocks for furniture and décor, and suddenly they once again become desirable objects. These 14 bookcases, stools, lamps, vases, counters and even planters give old books a new life.

Counters & Desks

(images via: the design files, inhabitat)
Stacked and covered with a countertop, books make a surprisingly strong – and beautiful – basis for a desk or counter.  Bookstore Brunswick Bound in Melbourne built a relatively small one, while Delft University went big and colorful for the front desk of its architectural library. The books in the latter were actually salvaged when a devastating fire in the Architecture building destroyed most of the library. The salvaged books represent a physical and metaphoric link to the building’s past.

Invisible Book Shelf

(images via: maydecemberhome)
Invisible book shelves are a fun way to display books on the wall, but look for a tutorial so you can DIY, and you’ll find that most of them require the destruction of the book that will form the base of the shelf. The blog May December Home Accessories uses simple L-brackets to achieve the same look without sacrificing any books.

Books as Planters

(images via:
As planters, it hardly seems as if books would hold water (literally). But Italian company Gartenkultur specially modifies unwanted books of all sorts, drilling holes into them and sealing the inside of the ‘pot’ with an insulating material. Considering that paper comes from trees, using books as pots for bonsais seems like an especially poetic way to allow books to ‘get back to their roots’.

Book Shelves by Jim Rosenau

(image via: eco-artware, verdelivre)
Jim Rosenau collects thousands of old hardback books, saving them from dumpsters and library discard piles and transforming them into functional furniture. His work ranges from simple wall-mounted shelves created using 3-5 books to large six-tiered bookcases.

Book Vases, Lamp & Stool by Laura Cahill

(images via: dezeen)
Delicate and ephemeral-looking, these books will long outlast the outdated text on their pages in their new lives as vases, lamps and a stool. Laura Cahill uses a band saw and traditional book-binding methods, creating three-dimensional forms from the cut pages. The pages that form the lantern-like vases are formed around a test tube to create a functional piece, while the stool was created by bolting books together along with wood that forms the legs.

Paperback Chair

(images via: casasugar)
This weird one-of-a-kind chair was made entirely from recycled and reclaimed materials including scrap metal for the frame and paperback books from the discard bins at the local library. Made by artist David Karoff for Providence, RI’s Myopic Books, the paperback chair is definitely an eye-catching piece, though its comfort may be in question.

Hanging Décor from Vintage Books

(image via: rpscissors)
Throwing a party for a book lover? Try your hand at some beautiful hanging décor made from vintage books. Cut into shapes and fanned out into three-dimensional forms, this unusual ‘chandelier’ made by NYC event décor & prop resource {found} vintage rentals was a great choice for a themed bridal shower.

Stacks as Side Tables

(image via: real simple)
Using books as furniture and décor doesn’t get much simpler than this. Real Simple Magazine highlights a low-key, stress-free organized home wherein a large book collection is kept visible and accessible in stacks around the room, but also functions as side tables.

Literary Lamp

(image via: thrifty fun)
Craftily-cut pages aren’t the only way to turn old books into a lamp. Using a lamp kit or recycled lamp parts and a drill bit that’s slightly larger than the pole used to support the lamp, a stack of books can form a totally custom library lamp.

Couch Made of Books

(image via: shelterpop)
In the movie Paper Man starring Jeff Bridges, a couch made of books made a memorable appearance. Bridges’ character, an author frustrated both with his work and the ugly couch in his living room, built a sofa using unsold copies of his last novel. The same concept – using any old books you can find, and a roll of tape – could easily be duplicated as a DIY project.


(image via:
The Bibliochase is a cozy chair and a bookcase in one, making it easy to sit back, relax, read a book and pick up another when you’re done. While it’s not exactly recycling or reusing books in any way, it does cut back on the amount of furniture you need to purchase, which is especially helpful for small-space living.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

What do you do with old books? Turn them into decor, of course !

Lisa Occhipinti’s Narrative Vases are often made with illustrated books. - Lisa Occhipinti’s Narrative Vases are often made with illustrated books. | Lisa Occhipinti
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
For some people, the most potent smell of summer has nothing to do with Coppertone. It’s a decidedly earthier bouquet: pine sap, wood smoke – and books. Those would be the people who ignore the crisp paperback in their beach tote and instead spend the weekend riffling through the swayback bookshelf at the musty cottage they rented off the Internet, then poring over un-putdownable titles like Puck of Pook’s Hill or Bourinot’s Rules of Order.
For them (okay, us), old books are like identity documents, household gods with bent spines and beloved covers – “conduits of memory” is how Toronto curator Noa Bronstein describes them. “Carriers of fingerprints, coffee and wine stains, folds, tears and annotations, books become a reflection and extension of the self.”
What happens to memory, then, as we enter a post-book age, where the physical form is becoming a quaint throwback, replaced by the sleek lines of the latest eReader?

Clearly, nostalgia is helping fuel the trend to repurposing old books as objects of design – elevating them, according to U.S. artist Lisa Occhipinti, “to a new form where the cover can be seen as an image and the insides, the pages, can be freed to reveal their tone, their words, their typography, their illustration.”
Examples are stacking up. Vintage hardcover books are used for lamp bases and shades, a clever play on the culture of reading lamps. Anthropologie stores feature  lights incorporating old book spines, while haute U.K. upcycler Lula Dot offers a stunning chandelier using vintage books splayed into sconces.
In Esquire, a review of hardboiled fiction featured a skull fashioned from the pages of a book, a technique made famous by Italy’s Stefano Arienti. Meanwhile, shops show off shoes perched on book pedestals, while Toronto’s EQ3 furniture shop pleats the pages of display books like fancy napkins.
Occhipinti offers more possibilities in The Repurposed Library (yes, that’s a book), turning old tomes into mobiles, desktop sculptures and kitchen containers. She even gets meta with a set of bookshelves made of books.

But are these inventive interventions an homage to the book or another page torn from Gutenberg’s achievement?

Both, depending on the project and the viewer, says Bronstein, who’s the acting curator for the Toronto-based Design Exchange’s Out of Sorts: Print Culture and Book Design, a show that explores the future of the book. The works on display include Occhipinti’s Bookmobile, a poignant construction of looped pages created from a 1901 book on bees, and Jardin de la Connaissance, a bench built of books by Thilo Folkerts and Rodney LaTourelle.

“I find appropriative book art quite moving and rarely if ever an assault, while others would say the reverse,” Bronstein says. “I think that is precisely why these works are so effective.”
Jardin was originally designed for a landscape installation at Quebec’s Reford Gardens, in which walls and paths of books were allowed to decay in the woods. Some design bloggers found the idea of returning books to nature lovely, while others were like vegetarians told it was okay to eat roadkill: “The idea of deliberately letting books perish like this just makes me cringe and curl up inside,” one wrote. “Any other material than Books!!!”

Occhipinti is sensitive to the charge that any kind of messing with books is sacrilege and sticks to those headed for landfill (often a subjective evaluation). Perhaps the more irredeemable a book, the more thoughtfulness its transformation requires. Beyond her crafty projects, Occhipinti has created more austere works, gathering ruined fragments of obsolete information into sculptural statements.

Book nerds both, Occhipinti and Bronstein have their summer reading lined up, including A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Bronstein) and The Summer Before Dark by Doris Lessing (Occhipinti).
Of course, if they happen to be at a cottage with a good bookshelf, they may never get around to them.

Monday, 15 August 2011

The Future of Libraries

Last week, I attended a couple of meetings/workshops on the future of libraries.

First, I facilitated my board's SWOT analysis, demographics and library trends in preparation for the library's new strategic plan.  We discussed a wide range of issues but some came to the forefront for me - the electronic information/format explosion, decreased funding and the increase of 'have nots' in Canadian society. 

At the Marketing Think Tank, the first speaker in the panel discussion on the future of libraries started off with the statement that libraries are screwed and no longer will be viable in the age of Netflix, downloadable music and ebooks.  He did state that his view changed during the Think Tank with the vision and enthusiasm of marketing staff in libraries.

When I mentioned to a friend, an electrical engineer, that the renovated Central Library in Hamilton had 48 Internet stations in an 'Internet Commons', he could not believe that not everyone had Internet at home.

At the end of last week, I came to the realization that the library is probably going to be even more important in the new economy where fewer people will have a good middle class income and will have to come to the place like the library to participate in the pay-as-you-go electronic subscription and registration world.  Libraries will have to be more nimble in finding new and alternative sources of income and rework the traditional model.

This is both disheartening and energizing.  The current public library CEOs will have to either embrace the new world which is very different to what they have successfully done in the past or bring more of the newer generation who understand the implications of the future.

How will this play out?

Monday, 8 August 2011


Today at work I had to replace several seasons of different television series.  Only one disk from the series was damaged.  It is frustrating to keep reordering the same series.  Most of my television series still have strong circulation.

This issue is the same as the cassette and CD unabridged talking books.  One of the set is damaged and you have to replace the whole set unless the library purchased from companies that offered one off replacements.

I wish we could do this with television series.  Maybe libraries could set up a system and offer the disks to others as a purchase or exchange.

No wonder my DVD budget is almost overspent!