«A city with a history of water conservancy development. We want to move the local landscape to the indoor space of Zhongshuge», Li Xiang, founder of X+Living
Opening its doors in the autumn of 2020, Dujiangyan Zhongshuge Bookstore, is the newest member of the Zhongshuge book retailing family, designed by Li Xiang of X+Living. It’s located in a city connected with the imperatives of conservation and irrigation. Xiang’s fascination with the tangible bears the root of her education in art and architecture. «In 2008, during my study trip to Germany. It was the first encounter between British Indian sculptor, Anish Kapoor and I. The rugby-shaped object that appeared in front of me grabbed my attention. I had to concentrate and focus, looking for every angle to see its appearance. In this shaped world, the appearance of a space that evades reality indicates infinite possibilities». Resistant to conforming to the formalities of Modernism or the New Architecture, Xiang’s style is a product of her «instinct and rational thinking, rather than challenging any aesthetic direction». When approaching a project, such as the Dujiangyan Zhongshuge Bookstore, Xiang’s purpose is to ignite a space, «I pay attention to three-dimensional space than the decoration or furnishings in the space». This Dujiangyan bookstore is not the first space designed by X+Living – the interior design agency was founded by Xiang in 2011 – for Zhongshuge. «The placement and structure of the furniture are not replicated due to the change in landscape and people’s habits. The pursuit of the integration of artistic aesthetics and practical function has been the design standard for our projects. An immersive experience does play a role in our design, as our projects are commercial spaces. Our design needs to be attractive to visitors and strategically guide them to consume inside the space. Before the process of conceptual design, my team and I investigate the usage and psychological needs of the targeted groups of the project».
«Design should express information. A design that can express its designer’s thoughts and purpose is the kind that touches me. Our work does bring a visual effect, but it is not affected by artists or movements». Approaching this project, Xiang let the landscape direct her, «Dujiangyan is a city with a history of water conservancy development. In the main area, you could see the construction of the dam was integrated into the bookshelves. The arch shaped bookshelves create a geometric aesthetic visually and are used as partitions for consumers to have extended traffic lines and spend time exploring». Reflecting on the design elements, Xiang adds «Walking through the bookstore customers can see the scenery of Dujiangyan. Their body feels the size between themselves and the foreign object when they stand in the space. The impact on their soul is similar to the awe we feel about nature». The bookstore is a myriad of textures and shapes, towering structures, and optical illusionary design ploys enforced by X+Living. Mirrored surfaces, ceramic tiles, blackened glass, and wood make up the material palette. «We designed light belts on each shelf to create a lighting effect, which draws the outline of each layer, making the shelf stereoscopic and clear to give readers a visual impact and to find books on the shelves». For Li Xiang and X+Living, this bookstore vies to be a lifestyle destination – one with no defined purpose, but that of a place where humans connect.
Each area in the store is named – the literature district, for example. Given the bookstore’s height, Xiang noted how functionality played its role to find a balance between the experiential and everyday usability for its visitors. «We coordinated every part of the space to ensure that, whether it is a bookshelf or a desk, it does not break away from the theme of the concept. The spiral stairs at the center of the literature district is built around a bookshelf; it offers books at a reachable distance. The books on top of the bookshelf are decorations for creating the visual effect of numerous books». Given the fact that the Dujiangyan Zhongshuge Bookstore is home to over 80,000 books that fall under 20,000 categories. «During the first week of opening, there were on average above 10,000 people visiting the store daily. The record visitors the store served in a day is sixteen thousand», Xiang tells us. Shockwaves of the coronavirus pandemic have been impossible to avoid. «The bookstore has to limit the number of customers inside, make sure to measure the body temperature of each customer at the entrance, and ask customers to wear masks when they visit the store».
Obtaining a double architecture degree in the UK. In 2011, Weixiang International was founded, and since, it has been building projects based on the direction of Li Xiang. As an architect, she cross-bordered into the field of interior design, and created space models, business legends and art boutiques in formats such as culture, retail and hotels. Li Xiang has been selected as Andrew Martin’s International Interior Designer of the Year, the organizer of the Italian Design Award A’Design Award. In 2018, she became the first Chinese designer to be invited as a judge of Frame Awards. In 2020, she was selected as the ‘Most Creative People in Business’ list of the world’s business media ‘Fast Company’. In order to control the overall coordinated design aesthetics from space to furniture, in 2015, the furniture brand XIANG was established to achieve the presentation of cross-border integrity of the space. It uses retailing to penetrate XIANG’s avant-garde artistic creativity into the lives of the people, in order to eliminate the sense of distance between art and life.IMAGE GALLERY
Dujiangyan Zhongshuge Bookstore
Chengdu, Wuhou District, 2