Oxford Bookstore

For the Oxford Bookstore in New Delhi, the first interior design project by Normal Studio, the French designers interpret their trademark style in a new language, letting the concept of flow to govern the unity of the space.

Oxford Bookstore
Normal Studio’s French designers Jean-Francois Dingjian and Eloi Chafaï saw their first interior design project as an opportunity to interpret their trademark style in a new language.
The design duo began by identifying what this fragmented space of only 500 sqm should be essentially about: its flow. It was flow that would govern the unity of the space and that would provide easy access to books and the associated services of relaxation areas, conference spaces, restaurant and bar.
Normal Studio, Oxford Bookstore
Normal Studio, Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi, India Top: © Donald Woodrow. Above: © Normal Studio
Allowing books to speak and presenting them through materials, light and furniture has resulted in an interior architecture structured around a series of “installations’”. Each has its own function to pace the customer pathway. The resin finish provides the unifying element that makes these micro-spaces feel bigger and interrelated.
Normal Studio, Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi, India
Normal Studio, Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi, India © Normal Studio
The entrance provides the first hint to this division of space. Attention is immediately drawn away from its narrow dimensions by a large-scale neon installation in which a cloud of words from literature plunges the visitor straight into the emotive world of reading. Comprising two small rooms, this entrance space is effectively the shop window of the bookstore. Like an illuminated geometric cavern, it showcases a selection of books, introducing and guiding visitors towards the central space and Cha Bar.
Normal Studio, Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi, India
Normal Studio, Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi, India © Normal Studio
The bookstore is structured to be a flowing space without doors to give visitors a clear perspective. The transition between spaces is demarcated by the arches of the original architectural structure, except that they are now painted blue, the colour of Vishnu.
The central space is much more like a traditional bookstore. Equipped with library steps and ladders, the book-filled shelving entirely covers the walls like a tapestry, creating a practical solution to storing so many books in such a relatively small space. To minimise the physical presence of the shelves, Normal Studio has given them a graphic treatment of graded greys, from black at floor level to white at ceiling level, where the artificial light is washed evenly to accentuate the calm, cosy atmosphere.
Normal Studio, Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi, India
Normal Studio, Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi, India © Normal Studio

The children’s area is designed around a mini-amphitheatre, whose carpeted surfaces invite young readers to sit comfortably, and doubles as seating for readings.

The central space leads into a long, thin lecture room bathed in natural daylight: a quiet space in which to take time to read, take a break or attend a lecture. A large alcove bench seat runs around the walls, providing a place of individual escape.

The Cha Bar is entered through the five blue arches. Designed specifically for this place, the marble-topped, metal-based tables adopt a polygonal form, creating freedom of layout and the illusion of random arrangement. Lighting is provided by big circular ceiling units concealing magnetic reflectors.

Oxford Bookstore, New Delhi, India
Program: bookstore
Designers: Normal Studio
Area: 500 sqm
Completion: 2014

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