Amsterdam – M+R Interior Architecture creates ‘the last bookstore’ for ILGE, an online subscription management platform for print or digital newspapers and magazines. With both print books and physical stores in decline, modernizing the retail concept is essential in creating a space that will remain functional despite the rapidly changing market.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that paper books are becoming obsolete, as more and more people are opting for the lighter and more convenient e-book. Even those who prefer literature in its more tactile form often use online means to acquire it. Acknowledging these trends, the ILGE Flex Space incorporates a dynamic arrangement of shelves that can either accommodate paper books or serve as a decorative – and symbolic – element if kept empty.
A glimpse from the street gives passersby the impression of a traditional, even vintage, bookstore, but a second look reveals a modern and multifunctional interior. The space is primed to operate almost completely digitally: e-books, food and beverages, and conference rooms can all be purchased, ordered, and reserved via iPads near the entrance.
Customer convenience drives the design, as technology is integrated and embedded to make the space as accessible as an online chatroom. People can read, work, or have a coffee with minimal fuss. In one section, a mural of bookshelves covers the floor, wall, and ceiling, defining a niche of privacy within the open layout. Outside this niche with a suspended ceiling, exposed ducts, track lighting, and bare concrete columns serve as an industrial framework to the cosy and playful elements such as the pendant lights, stacked books as table legs, and hanging bubble chairs by Eero Aarnio.
M+R did not altogether discard the concept of a bookstore, but renovated it to suit the modern age. ‘The last bookstore’ may actually be one of the first of its kind as a retail and co-working concept for the users of a content management service.