- Architect In Charge: Lydia Song
- Design Team: Lydia Song, Zhiwei Lai, Jill Pu, Feng Yue, Huaer Lin, Lei Song
- Client: the Imaginist Group
- Graphic Identity: One Thousand Times
- Construction: Team Zhao
- City: Beijing
- Country: China
“Imaginist” is one of the most well-known independent publishing house in China, renowned for its high-quality editorial works and collaboration with most acclaimed writers, intellectuals, and scholars from the country and worldwide. The brand has also gained popularity amongst young readers through the podcast program, “Vistopia”, as well as hosting the “Blancpain Iimaginist Literary Prize”, a prestigious reward for emerging talents in the field of critical writing. “Naïve” is the group’s first showcase space, accommodating mixed uses of a bookstore, seminars, exhibition, coffee, and bar.
The design aims to create a “living room” for authors and readers to meet. Through extensive reading and research, the design team explores notable “homes” in history where masterpieces were written by novelists, poets, sociologists, philosophers, and many other brilliant minds across fields of civilization. Despite varied personal preferences and working habits, most authors shared some similar essential conditions for the creative process, such as a table with comfortable seating, a window with sufficient light and refreshing views, a bookshelf decorated with memorable items and inspiring artifacts, as well as space for pets and friends. The condensed space is the ideal breeding ground for great ideas and literary works.
The design begins with removing existing partitions and restoring the original openness of the building’s frame structure. In the open-plan, different kinds of ceiling canopies and changes in floor height are introduced to define different functions and spaces. An eight-meter-long bar, integrating coffee and cocktail, dominates the front entry area. The reading room, flanked by bookshelves on both sides, obtains intimacy with lowered headroom. The gallery and window seating along with the south façade rise slightly from the ground to elevate vistas, while the sunken “salon” area forms a “pool” for café seating and literary forums.
The diversity of spatial experience is reinforced by adaptive uses of natural light. In the morning, readers sitting by the window could enjoy illumination from the rising sun. At noontime, strong southern light penetrates the foyer and gallery, illuminating the coffee and salon area. The afternoon glare is filtrated through a façade shaped by recessed windows and curvilinear concrete panels. During sunset, rays of twilight occasionally reflect from the glass curtain wall of CBD skyscrapers on the north, casting trace of light on the bookshelf in the reading room. After dark, a light installation made of copper sheets over coffee and bar counter creates ambiance for guests of a cocktail bar. Meanwhile, the bookshelf in the display area presents the publisher’s best collection of printing works with a theatrical spotlight.
The venue is also characterized by coherent furniture selection and designs. Encircling every room, there are several types of bookshelves crafted by wood, leather, and terrazzo, shared by the emphasis on the approachable scale and exquisite configuration. The long bar counter provides adequate space for both drinks and books used as a commune table, accompanied by a moderate-sized desk for readers who prefer privacy. The design team also custom designs a compact chair, flexible for rearrangement for different occasions.