Storage Ideas and the Urge to Purge

Container Zen

It may be a cliché but the new year makes me feel – if only for a moment – a new determination to simplify. Take books for example: what I really should do is edit down my library to whatever fits one bookcase, like this clever “reading ring”

sculpture by Danish architect David Garcia, founder of MAP Architects. According to the artist  the work, titled Archive II, “is a circular library for the  nomad book collector, allowing the user to step inside, and walk away with half a ton of books.” It’s a conceptual piece and I would need a pillow…But for me weeding out enough books to make a dent will never happen, so how can I de-clutter without actually ditching everything? The eminent and urbane Washington, D. C. Architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen, now partnered with his son Simon, has an answer. His famous egg crate bookshelves, shown here in his own

house, are now available, for the first time commercially, through Archermodern, and without the $10 million dollar houses that usually accompany them (photo courtesy Washingtonian). They can hold a lot of books elegantly: Jacobsen and his wife Robin have more than 4,000. Here’s the

shelving system in another Jacobsen house. Want it! I like the way the structure of the case makes the books appear to float, while the white background sets off the warmly colorful bindings (photo courtesy Jacobsen Architecture). The idea comes from the interlocking square modules in antique

egg creates (photo courtesy Worthpoint). According to Gretchen Cook in Washingtonian, Jacobsen explained the virtue of the compartmentalized approach: “You are always taking books off the shelves and the rest all fall down. With this design, you can remove a whole foot and they won’t.” And some bays can become display niches. San Francisco Architect Malcolm Davis took a more

rustic approach to the slotted crate with this dramatic natural wood-toned two story wall (photo courtesy Malcolm Davis Architecture). In some older houses simply exposing the studs — before or perhaps in spite of building codes — produced a sort of vernacular shelving system.

You can see a somewhat more prosaic use of the crate in many of today’s storage boxes, like this handy “wing-lid” ornament bin from The Container Store.

Yes, my wife and I have been culling and then “crating” the remaining holiday ephemera — easier to do with ornaments than books!

2 responses to “Storage Ideas and the Urge to Purge

  1. We always feel the need to start purging come a new year, but books are an area where we also have trouble. People keep telling us that we could easily get most of our titles as e-books, thus freeing up valuable space. And yes, we could, but a. it would cost us an arm and a leg to buy them all at once, b. we like books, and c. free up space for what? Chances are we’d simply stock those empty shelves with more books.

    I like this system. It’s an interesting and eye catching approach to book storage.

    • I like your attitude! E-books are great, especially for traveling, but holding and paging through and reading books remains a special pleasure and simply helps me think…

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