Documenting designs of the bookshelf revolution

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Since 2007, Alex Johnson has kept a daily record of the closely followed world of bookshelf design with his blog simply titled “Bookshelf”. Faced with the e-book revolution and the downsizing of physical storage, the furniture staple remains a beloved component of the home, evolving from floor piles and mundane shelves to be embraced as a design object reflecting the spirit of the collector as well as the books themselves. Johnson’s new book, also called “Bookshelf“, curates the contemporary state of the household item as both a design and storage piece.


Admitting that e-books are certainly here to stay, Johnson points out that there exists a difference between book readers and book owners. While the former is content to consume the information and move on, the latter enjoys the experience of possessing, displaying and ultimately sharing tomes.

As affordable furnishing and democratic design bring creative solutions into homes everywhere, the demand for elegant bookshelves continues to rise. Minimalist or cluttered, asymmetrical or linear, the design of the bookshelf dictates the feel of the room it inhabits. Designers build from this premise, creating pieces that reflect the practical, spacial and aesthetic needs of book owners.

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Johnson’s selections are accompanied by short biographies and web addresses to find and purchase each of the pieces. His work provides examples of the evolution of the single shelf, the incorporation of bookshelves into furniture and the departure from traditional box storage, among other trends. The more elegant examples include “Bike Shelf“, a minimalist, dual-purpose option for bookworm cyclists, as well as “Between Lines“, an amalgamation of intersecting letters made of steel and rubber that houses creative arrangements of books.

“Bookshelf” is available for purchase from Thames & Hudson and on Amazon. See more images of the book in our slideshow.