Gallery of ingenious bookshelves

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Those all look cool… although I’d say that many of them don’t go for holding a large number of books, do they? It’s design over function, in many cases. I am a fan of stair cases with bookshelves. That’s a great solution if you live in a smaller home, but love books…


The rocking curve one makes me twitch because of all of the ways it would damage books as it rocked. Like tossing them into a slow tumbler.

I like the letters shelf, though. Clever AND fun.


Me too. And it looks like you can actually pack a good deal of books in there, too.


Yeah that ABC bookcase is way cool. If they could put the shelves into a grid of pegboards on the back, it would be great fun for kids to rearrange and spell things.

I would love to see a text display made in this style where the white lines are moved around by a robotic manipulator to spell words.

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Clever ways to minimize your storage space.


The best bookshelf is the shelf that lets me store the most amount of books in the least amount of space. Because I need all that extra space. For other bookshelves.

(Yes, if they also looked nice and fancy that would be a bonus, but that’s sheer luxury.)


Not perfect, not pretty but still my most useful.


IKEA’s Benno is meant for CDs, but it has the perfect depth for paperbacks. It will also fit in places like the space between a wall and a door. You can use a couple of Bennos like pylons to bear extra shelves between them. Cheap, ekes out room for a couple of books, and you can customize the overall breadth of the bookshelf.
(The paperbacks in my Billy shelves are stacked two deep, naturally.)


Any shelf that isn’t level with the floor wastes space. They also tend to end up damaging the books. The brass and glass one could be neat if you had a lot of volumes to display. Most of the others are silly. A walls held where the surfaces are all curves? Even if all you put on them was tchotchkes they would all shift to the low spot over time.


Our modular home aka fancy trailer has walls lined with that I call the Swedish Forest ie Ikea Billy and Benno shelf-cabinets. Sorry, I will not post photos. The Billys mostly sport glass doors. On each unit, the bottom half and top shelf contain books while the upper half is lit, with glass shelves to display our arts and crafts collection. The top holds larger crafty works, We waste no space.


Yanko Design where people spend more time with their 3D renderer than in actual product design. Yes most things there look terrific, but they’re usually terrible pieces of design.

That rocking chair/shelf is just a great way of damaging books by having them bash into one another and run against one another as you rock the chair.

As for the one with the chair cut out, none of the columns carrying the load line up with the verticals of the cut out for the chair so the shelf will gradually distort under the load of the books - before you now it your fancy designer chair will no longer fit inside your fancy designer shelf.


These seem to all solve the problem of how to store the smallest number of books at the highest price. I’m looking to solve the opposite problem, to the point where I looked at the feasibility of putting rolling library stacks in my attic (it fell well outside my budget).


You can put Billies on wheels.

Front (top)

Front (bottom)

Sliding in/out

All in

Guide rail




Guide rail (detail)

Guide rail (detail)

I made this over a weekend, it’s a bit quick & dirty and didn’t turn out exactly as planned. I knew the floor wasn’t level, but I was surprised by how much. The ceiling is level.
Anyway, I plan to make something similar for books from five or six Billies in a row, but I’ll put in a level base/floor in first. Probably with grooves in it for the wheels to run in. And a guide rail on the ceiling to prevent tilting.


Agreed! The one in the gallery made me cringe a bit, though. With no edge between the stairs and the shelves, those shelves would get filled up with grit and other things from people’s shoes. Even in a shoe-less household, things get tracked around.


Your periodic lesson that “design exercise” does not equal “solving a problem”.

None of these designs (except maybe the under-stairs one) are identifying a problem and trying to solve it. They are just designers designing for the sake of design because that’s what designers do. “Let’s take this restricted design space and see how weird we can get within it”.



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