A multicoloured staircase that winds between two levels, a floor of terrazzo tropical foliage delicately outlined in brass, lamps by Flavio Poli for decoration… Publishing house Taschen’s flagship store in Milan, opened by founder Benedikt Taschen to coincide with the Salone del Mobile 2015, is a work of art in its own right. A book shop yes, but one in which you’re taken on a trip through the pages of the titles around you.
Located in the historic Magenta district, the store was designed by Marc Newson – a friend of Taschen’s, and a seasoned collaborator on other spaces for the publisher, celebrated with his very own monograph. Without hesitation, Newson embarked letting Taschen’s subjects prompt the design and be involved with the process, making physical the pages of its titles.
In the two storey space the disciplines of art, architecture, design, fashion, film, travel and popular culture cling to the walls, grow from the floors and out of the the ceilings, finding expression in furniture and lighting, accessories and layout – bold and open like the beautiful balanced pages of a book, like an art gallery. There’s the Gio Ponti lighting from Taschen’s private collection, celebrating Italian design from the 1950′s. On the first floor there’s a bookworm-inspired mural by Graphic Thought Facility – a taste of the contemporary titles; and under foot, there is the simply stunning Venetian terrazzo floor by Los Angeles-based pop-artist Jonas Wood, depicting through vivid blues, crisp greens and vibrant yellows, the flora of California and paying homage to all that is pop. Together, these bold and beautiful features reflect the scope of Taschen’s titles – classic, contemporary, local, international, new, old – and create their own identity in the process.
The main feature of a bookstore of course is the shelving, custom designed by Newson. Creating his own adaptable modular library system, made from polished galvanised steel with a few select sections in yellow resin (Milan yellow that is), the shelves are strong yet delicate and the perfect display case for Taschen titles – designed, as Newson says, “to keep the overall look and feel quite neutral to really showcase the books.” Where there is the expectation to view book spines lining the walls, here front covers often face outwards, displayed in all their glory like works of art and greeting the reader on arrival. The shelves can also be easily disassembled and assembled for temporary locations and pop-up stores – reflecting Taschen yet again, its progressive versatility and constantly reinventing itself within the dynamic world of publishing.
Between the glittering spiral staircase and gallery-like rooms, alcoves to read in and floors to marvel at, the Taschen store is a space we’d like to visit for more reasons than one – indulging over the pages of the Taschen titles is only the beginning.