Fangsuo Bookstore in Chengdu

Chengdu / China / 2015

9
9 Love 2,518 Visits Published

Designing a bookstore has always been a dream for Taiwanese designer Chu Chih-Kang. The inception of this dream came almost 14 years ago when Chu came across some interesting bookstore designs.


Chu has always been attracted and inspired by interesting bookstore designs because they are not simply commercial shops designed to sell books.  They are spaces that collect and share knowledge as well as being spaces for relaxation and contemplation. For Chu, to be able to create such a place is the ultimate achievement.


When the opportunity arose to partner with Fangsuo Bookstore on their latest project, there was absolutely no doubt in Chu’s mind as to whether or not he would accept this opportunity.  


Chu’s initial proposal was centered around “The Secret Scripture Library”. Scripture libraries have been found around either in or under Buddhist temples for centuries and have an extended meaning of stored wisdom in Mandarin Chinese. This concept really resonated with Fangsuo and was immediately accepted. In the fourteen month process that ensued, neither party wavered on this core concept of a Secret Scripture Library.  


In the beginning there was no definitive picture for how the Cheng Du - Fangsuo Bookstore should look aesthetically. However, it was imperative to the owner that the bookstore had to have Chengdu (provincial capital of Sichuan, China) running through it’s very core. With this in mind, the Chu Chih-Kang team began research on the city and found significant historical connections to the site, such as links to Daci Temple and one of the most famous monks in Buddhism - Xuan Zhang of the Tang dynasty.  


This research also brought to light the emotional connection that people of Sichuan have with “Wo” (a nest, cove or home) and “Bai” (intentional placement or design).


In the thousands of years of Chinese history, there have been numerous and infamous quests for ancient scriptures and the wisdom that they hold. This spirit of exploration was something that Chu wanted to capture in the Fangsuo Bookstore. Moreover, Chu not only wanted people to experience this quest into the unknown, but he also wanted the bookstore to have the solemnity of a temple since books represent some of mankind's most deep and profound wisdom.


Chu envisioned a bookstore that embodied the essence of ancient scripture libraries, but he also wanted a space that spoke to the Sichuan people and their way of life. Sichuan people lead a slow-paced and relaxed lifestyle and they love to socialize. Within the province you’ll always find spaces where you can nuzzle down and read a book or coffee shops where you can socialize with your friends. These spaces represent how central “Wo” (a nest, cove or home) and “Bai” (intentional placement or design) are to the Sichuan people.


The Buddhist expression fa wu ding fa - nothing is fixed, always pushes Chu to create and innovate. This embodies his entire design philosophy. The concept of “The Secret Scripture Library” was one that Chu developed with full hearted satisfaction.



When a perfectionist and dreamer cross paths it is inevitable that challenges follow. The toughest challenge for Chu was how to improve and push the project to it’s very limits so that the customers walking through the store would experience genuine emotions and embark on the narrative of the scripture hunt. The experiences of the customers would be the defining factor to make this piece truly memorable.


From start to finish there were around 50 revisions to the design and Chu invested almost four times the manpower and resources compared to other projects. “There is no wasted effort, when one is not afraid of adversity and puts their all into something” - Chinese proverb. For Chu, this attitude drove him and his team towards the finish line of this project.


For Chu, the written word represents the collection of shared knowledge and wisdom. With this foundation of our known world we explore the unknown future. To encourage the customers to join him on this journey of exploration, Chu has infused the space full of imagery of the vast cosmos, with designs of constellations and planetary diagrams. Chu really wanted for people visiting to feel that they were in the vast depths of the cosmos.


Following the theme of the cosmos, the entry to this building is through a sculpture shaped like a meteor. This mysterious tunnel is intentionally designed to feel narrow and confined for those passing through. This near claustrophobic experience is then followed by the immediate release into the large open space where you feel the pressure immediately released. The journey through this meteor, this ark to knowledge, is designed to release tension and allow customers to enter the space with a relaxed frame of mind, open to discovery and enchantment.


The Fangsuo Bookstore Project was completed in 14 months. Despite the highs and lows throughout this project, the bookstore was well received by everyone and continues to enchant people to this day. For Chu, the job of a designer is to help dreamers realize their dreams. While Chu appreciates the positive feedback for his designs on the bookstore, he feels that the ultimate success of the store is down to the ambitious vision of the owners. This project not only allows Fangsuo Bookstore to realise their dream, but allowed Chu to fulfil a lifelong goal of designing a beautiful bookstore.

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    Designing a bookstore has always been a dream for Taiwanese designer Chu Chih-Kang. The inception of this dream came almost 14 years ago when Chu came across some interesting bookstore designs. Chu has always been attracted and inspired by interesting bookstore designs because they are not simply commercial shops designed to sell books.  They are spaces that collect and share knowledge as well as being spaces for relaxation and contemplation. For Chu, to be able to create such a place is...

    Project details
    • Year 2015
    • Work finished in 2015
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Showrooms/Shops / Interior Design
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