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Designer bookshelves

Sheila Byers Sheila Byers
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Over time, home libraries have changed shape, colour and even function. Today we will dedicate some time to this kind of furniture, to bookcases and shelving. Winter is coming and it is not difficult to imagine evenings in the living room, curled up on our beloved sofa next to the fireplace enjoying one of our favourite writers. On those dark nights, we want nothing more than to dive into the pages of a Márquez romance, a Hemingway adventure or one of Dostoevsky’s detailed descriptions. The best literature passes through our hands, but then where does it go? To our beloved library of course.

Bookcases are getting more and more creative and spacious, even as the dispute between e-books and paper books is more alive today than ever. In our opinion, perhaps e-readers make sense to save a bit of space, but to reduce your entire library to a digital instrument sounds absurd: book collections are made to preserve and, when on display, even to show who we are and what we prefer. The books on our shelves can say a lot about us as people. There are a thousand reasons why we continue to love print publications despite the availability of everything online: the smell of paper, the signs of ageing on the pages, a history of physical objects, books that make us come back to the mindset, place and period in which we were reading them. On the other hand, completely ignoring the technology is stupid. So let's see the e-reader as a useful tool in some situations. For example, if you are an avid reader of the Harry Potter saga, it would be very difficult to fit these books in your suitcase when you travel, and so, in this case, such an invention can come to your aid and help you avoid overloading your luggage.

We are, however, still fans of having large libraries at home, but we also appreciate small and simple solutions. Here for you is an overview of all the new ways that the bookshelf is becoming a piece of furniture that lends itself not only to accommodating only books, but also to housing any of a number of objects. This is the shelf for everything we love to exhibit: the photos of our first family vacation, our karate trophies, small souvenirs from vacation in Barbados, or that object so dear to our grandmother. After all, inside each of us is a collector, especially of emotions and memories.

Large scale

Did you know that the bookshelf is a piece of furniture with a very complex history? In ancient Greece and Rome, as in the Middle Ages, there was a piece of furniture exclusively for books—a small rectangular closet, usually sparsely decorated. The books were not lined on the shelf the way we normally place them today, but arranged one above the other, with the spine inwards. In the Middle Ages, the monasteries were to be the focal point for all of the most important manuscripts of the time. They were kept in cabinets or on tablets on the wall. In the Renaissance, although there are real book stores, nearly as we know them today, there were no special furniture for storing all that wisdom. In France, during the seventeenth century, the great furniture makers of the time created an elegant and finely decorated wardrobe that could be closed with a cabinet door; at the same time, public libraries began to use open shelves. Subsequently, in the capitals of Europe a  writing desk caught on, which served as both bureau and bookcase.

A long history that has brought us to this example, a project of architect Beatrice Pierallini. Here, levels and shelves alternate endlessly, creating a special shelf that you can fill in with time. This shelf is installed in a  beautiful apartment in Florence that contains 6,000 books. The large scale keeps this peice from being a good choice for every home, but it has some interesting ideas: the ladder that allows you to get to the top moves along a rail embedded in the ceiling as if it were a sliding door. Below, a platform offers additional storage space.

Unique pieces

It's hard to believe, but it was only in the nineteenth century that the bookshelf became a piece of furniture present in all homes. The living room, as we know, has also evolved over time to contain this piece of basic furnishing that today we can not do without. For many, these necessities must be unique, like this project in an elegant Naples home. The cabinet is custom built and allows storage for a variety of objects whether you want them hidden away or proudly displayed. It fits well with the theme of the house, which is designed to break away from the banalities. Note for example, the unique ceiling. 

Ropes & wood

The Sail Bookshelf comes directly from the world of the sea, combining sinuous forms into a surprising strength. The nautical inspired rope is not only aesthetic, but functional, keeping the shelf from slanting. This object can be either leaned against the wall or used as a divider between two spaces.


Looking for a room divider that can hold books, photo albums or plants? The unique shape and precise joints here give us the perfect furniture for a living room that knows how to be young and fresh in the right way, without using classical furniture. Also, each unit of the shelf is independent, leaving it to the owners to decide from a variety of arrangements. A very design-oriented library.

Hanging storage

 Living room by fifti-fifti

backpack wallshelf


If you do not have much space in the living room, this shelf is an option that is both practical and stylish. Despite the simple rope structure, it is able to support your books safely.

High quality

 Living room by fifti-fifti

backpack wallshelf


All the materials are of the highest quality, and you can customise the unit by choosing the height of each shelf. The strap system is based on the classic backpack and pulley designs, adapted in an ingenious way. Obviously a shelf like this is meant to lean against the wall, but if you desire, and with a little thought and planning, you could suspend it from the ceiling.

Sea life

This shelf takes a similar structure, but with clear inspiration from the sea.  With its sail-shaped structure, ropes and and planks that remind us of the natural curvature of the wooden barrels of the past, this modern library brings the world of sailing into the living room.

Space saver

 Living room by KwiK Designmöbel GmbH
KwiK Designmöbel GmbH

Ambivalenz Fläpps Regalsystem

KwiK Designmöbel GmbH

Do you want to save space with a unique idea? This wall unit is thin enough to be closed in an instant if you no longer need it folded down. The open mode reveals a set of shelves big enough to accommodate books and plants and has a pleasant surprise: a small desk space that can be useful in a very limited area of the apartment. The chair also folds flat so that it can be stored out of the way when not in use.


Here is a shelf for a dynamic and fun library. This structure is formed by a system of shelves that stand alone, supporting itself and defying the force of gravity. The brilliant idea involves the use of only one pin per shelf, which allows each part to rotate and lean on another. There are multiple possibilities for creating a modern and innovative shelving unit.


No, no earthquake. This is an example that shows other possibilities for these amazing shelves. They do not need any level to be installed, on the contrary, they encourage you to use both your the imagination and steep inclines. The shelves are an idea of 4P1B Design Studio.

Revolutionary shelves

Here is another design that breaks the mould of what we are used to seeing at home. The irregular composition features multiple shelves in all directions confined in a sort of circle. The various slopes and inclinations serve to multiply the space, allowing you to fit much more in, perfect for displaying captivating books, souvenirs and small meaningful objects. Modern living can start from here. 

Strength in design

Never underestimate the ingenuity of our designers, who with one shelf can manage to hold even our beloved bicycle. The unit also includes storage spaces for all your bike accessories: your key, lock and helmet will no longer be difficult to find or lost somewhere in the home. This design would fit quite well in a loft or open floor plan because of its modern, young and unconventional character. 

What do you think of these shelves? Would you use them in your home? Let us know in the comments!
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