A branch of Chinese bookstores has captured attention for its incredible architecture and use of optical illusions and magical interiors to create fantastical and surreal spaces. Zhongshuge (钟书阁) is a chain of book shops with branches in cities across China, and has been called the country’s most beautiful bookstore by some Chinese netizens.
Mirrored ceilings, rounded and tiered bookshelves presented at odd angles, giant picture windows and symmetrical angles create optical illusions that give Zhongshuge’s stores a peculiar sense of space and perspective.
A number of the shops also incorporate magical, colourful elements into their children’s book sections to create a fairy tale environment. The Hangzhou branch incorporated clever wooden rides, including a mini-roller coaster and a merry-go-round, within brightly coloured space where the bookshelves are designed in cartoonish shapes.
Most recently in April 2018, Zhongshuge expanded to the ancient capital of Xi’an, where the store’s clean, white, rounded lines, hanging ‘book swings’ and tree-shaped cutouts make for a magical atmosphere. The clever designs and fantastical atmospheres in Zhongshuge’s stores are designed to help them stand out against competitors, and they certainly do encourage shoppers to linger, enjoy, contemplate and imagine.