Located in San Francisco's Metreon complex, this bookstore is conceived as a backdrop for publications by Chronicle Books, the city's only local independent publisher.
Recognizing that the publisher creates iconographically powerful publications, the life of the space is driven by a dynamic collage of book covers. The covers are treated as art objects playing off a dark, recessive palette and becoming as much a part of the materiality of the space as they are the focus. The outer envelope of the space is rendered in “Chronicle Books blue” once again reinforcing their brand as well as referencing the infinite scale of the sky. This scale shift from infinity to the scale of a small object, a book, focuses one’s attention on the craft of each individual book.
The design creates a strong presence along the street, where both pedestrian and automobile traffic are active day and night. An internally lit steel armature displays books at the storefront, while a ribbon of shelving leads visitors from the storefront into the depths of the space, providing visual relief to the row of glazed entryways that line the Fourth Street corridor.
Taking advantage of the existing narrow and stepped conditions in the 2,000 sft space, the floor and ceiling planes are quietly sculpted to engage zones of display, browsing and lounging. This manipulation accentuates the length and height of the space, while allowing movement through in an effortless manner.
The design provides a modern interpretation of the iconographic Reading Room with a primary lofted space flanked by smaller scaled alcoves. The tall volume is lined with books for perusal on both the vertical and horizontal surfaces, while the adjacent spaces create intimate nooks for reading, children’s books and smaller scaled gift objects. Furniture, pendants and wall mounted art lighting become distinct jewelry elements within the space.
Materials throughout are inexpensive yet rich in color and texture. Prefinished wood flooring creates a durable feature wall, while sculpted tabletops provide sensually rich surfaces for book display. Throughout, the darkened palette and materials serve to highlight the spirit, creativity and value of the Chronicle Books brand.