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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Inviting a read!

Well designed book racks help maintain your book collection, writes Hema Vijay
Photo Courtesy: Sujata Shankar

Do it right: Good design provides easy access and storage value.

Guess what’s the most fashionable thing to display now? No, it is not Swarovski crystal, Egyptian masks or Thai gold, but the good old things that transport you into other worlds – books.

Not surprisingly then that book racks have undergone a sea change; from being simply utilitarian to avant-garde.

Out of the box designs

While wooden book racks remain a classy way to store books and magazines, designers have come up with several creative book storage ideas. To begin with, books need not necessarily be stored in a boxed rack.

For instance, curved metal racks have become very popular abroad. The idea is simple; bend a metal plate about a foot wide and about 10 feet long in the shape of ’s’ or any curve you fancy.

Clamp it to the wall so that the metal plate provides a platform for books, which can now be arranged along the curving rack.

To prevent the books from sliding off, provide tiny raised surfaces where the curves head into space.

The same can be done with toughened glass too, and the ledges can be fashioned like steps, in zigzags, and curves, of course.

A multi-purpose space

On the other hand, book racks cannot be restricted to just books. You need space to store magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, letters, stationary, etc.

For this purpose, however, you need boxed book racks. The height of each shelf is best made variable.

While huge books like encyclopaedias need about 12 to 14 inches of vertical space, paperbacks need less vertical space.

Add drawers for storing stationery (spanning a height of three to four inches), and perhaps one huge drawer at the very bottom to store assorted stuff like charts, thermocol models, etc. Add a small rack for storing CDs (about seven inches high). The depth of the book rack is ideally about 12 inches, while the height and length are non-definable. The dimension of the book rack hinges closely on your needs, says architect and designer Sujatha Shankar.

Common mistake

One common mistake made by those setting up homes is to design their furniture keeping in mind just the present.

"When you design a boxed book case, make plenty of adjustable slots and holders, so that you can move the racks about to fit the huge atlas your child may be bringing along soon," says Sujatha Shankar.

As for storing books in other areas, you can provide space for books in the headboard of beds, ledges along kitchen, underneath stairways, etc. Use triangular glass panes in L-shaped areas.

Using the book rack as a display combo for curios is not so much in fashion now.

However, if you desire this, all you need to do is to install overhead lights and use glass shelves (in the case of closed book racks).

Designer book racks may cost anywhere between Rs. 3,000 and Rs.10, 000 and above, depending on the design and material.

For easy access and extra storage value, revolving racks are ideal, especially for room corners.

Moving on to material, the choice available here, as with the rest of interior décor, is endless… glass, acrylic, chromium, powder-coated steel, wrought iron, aluminium, pre-laminated boards, etc. Wood is, of course, an ever green choice, and the good thing about book racks fashioned in real wood is that they can gel with any décor.

In fact, wooden racks can emanate an air of elegance and a sense of being rooted to the space.

In sight, in mind

The role of book racks is not limited to systematically maintain your book collection; well-designed book racks may actually promote reading.

As designer Anupama Krishnan says, "People tend to read only what lies on the table.

If your books are in wooden cupboards hidden from the eye, the chance of your picking up a book casually and reading it is very less."

Out of sight and out of mind?

So, overt display of books may not be just intellectual snobbery.

Funky book racks can actually tempt you into picking up books and get into the reading groove.

(The Hindu, PROPERTYPLUS, Chennai,15:09:2007)




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