sunlight filters through the shelves of displayed books
Assembly methods allow for sunlight to filter through the displays.

Go ‘Back to the Future’ in This Temporary Bookstore in Xinyang

Can you go back to the future twice? Curator Zuo Jing asked Luo Studio to try. After working on a 2022 exhibition for Jing that referenced the ’80s film with display modules constructed of corrugated cardboard, founder Luo Yujie returned to update his team’s innovative design—this time, for the Xinyang Book Market: Books ‘N Tea, a pop-up in Xinyang, China.

Jing’s request posed a bit of a puzzle: How to incorporate 18 different booksellers in a small building complex with a total design and construction period of seven days? The answer surfaced in the numbers themselves. While a northern building is organized in two circles, one for a forum and one for a special exhibition of local publications, the southern building is a full fan shape with outer glass windows on each side. Luo Studio broke the space into thirds. A plan incorporating a center aisle of exhibition tables, and a row on either side of bookshelves and four small tables each, organized the space neatly, with ample room to view each seller’s wares.

corrugated cardboard exhibition tables in a pop up bookstore
The center row of corrugated cardboard exhibition tables orients the three spans of bookshelves.

As for the bookshelves, Luo Studio devised six types of construction modules in three kinds of corrugated cardboard for the 18 participants. These included rhomboid units with plugs in front to hold heavier hardcover books; vertical-horizontal plugging for shelves to accommodate large number of books of varying sizes; and shelving with bended acrylic card attached to accommodate softcover and smaller books. Each bookstore reported the number of books they would show, and each bookshelf fills them accordingly.

While the 2022 exhibition used cardboard covered in light brown kraft paper, for this show the team devised a way to clad the material in either single or double sides with red, black, or white paper. No matter the color, open areas in the construction allow natural light to penetrate the space. And the designers even found a further use for the cardboard itself—as a mock-up wall for the southern building’s show of prints made in the ancient, handmade style of Yukou Paper.

a bookshelf made of corrugated cardboard
The team assembled this bookshelf in white corrugated cardboard with the front-rhombus plugging method.
sunlight filters through the shelves of displayed books
Assembly methods allow for sunlight to filter through the displays.
books displayed in an exhibition designed by Luo Studio
This bookshelf utilizes the lateral-beveled plugging method with metal struts.
rhombus-shaped bookshelves in an exhibition
Some of the front-rhombus plugging method bookshelves are also clad of light brown kraft paper.
white bookshelves in an exhibition space
White bookshelves are assembled with lateral-beveled plugging.
distinctly shaped bookshelves are visible through the window
The distinctive shapes of the bookshelves are easily legible from the street.
posters are displayed on the walls and tables of this exhibition space
The team displayed posters printed onto handmade Yukou Paper by pressing nails through their corner display walls of corrugated cardboards. Photography by Bonnie.

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