An international award has added an extra sparkle to a bright new bookstore in Vancouver. Maria Drugoveiko, principal of Red Box ID, was presented with a silver A’Design Award in Milan, Italy, this year for her World Kids Books project, a children’s bookstore located in the International Village Mall. With a client brief that amounted to developing an entirely new concept in literary retail, Red Box ID’s success was no small feat.
“Running a large bookstore can bring unnecessary expenses – bigger does not mean more sales,” says Drugoveiko. “World Kids Books is a sustainable, fully operational bookstore on a very small footprint that proves bigger isn’t always better. The idea is very simple: Have everything available online and just a portion of the best merchandise physically displayed in the store.”
The brief provided a number of unique challenges for Red Box ID. The company’s first hurdle was product storage and display – a common challenge in any retail design but multiplied here by the requirement to stock multiple titles in different languages, including French, Spanish and Russian. Instead of installing horizontal shelves used in conventional bookstores, Red Box ID designed bright, vertical showcases, which organize the merchandise, highlight the product and guide customers on their journey through the store.
“Quality books deserve good design and effective showcasing,” says Drugoveiko.
The second challenge was to balance the personalized service of a traditional shop with the convenience of a digital experience that today’s consumers have come to expect. To complement the existing online bookstore, Red Box ID integrated a digital browsing station inside the bricks and mortar shop for customers to search the entire inventory with ease.
World Kids Books wanted to deliver a brand new book-buying experience to its clientele; the final challenge for Red Box ID was to design a storefront that would instantly communicate that message. The finished result is visually remarkable.
An “open book” concept meant the budget was spared by adding as few new walls as possible, with the added bonus of putting the entire store on display by designing clear unobstructed sightlines. The rhythm of descending perimeter columns and a neutral palette of cream and charcoal create the perfect backdrop for the many colourful titles on display. A filmstrip floor is dotted with eye-catching Frank Gehry colour cubes, which bring a whimsical character to the space and are appropriately kids’-sized. The broad glass storefront becomes an ever-changing canvas of colour and activity that attracts passersby better than any static display could.
“Interior design greatly enhanced our business idea and we are very happy with the result,” says the World Kids Books owner.
Drugoveiko describes her project as a “next generation” bookstore: A showroom first, retail bookshop second and an online store third. Appropriate for modern book-buyers and driven by a “business first” approach, the space is flexible for its clients and provides an enticing new experience for its customers – a true success. And Red Box ID has the hardware to prove it.
Lucas Nightingale is the principal designer at nightingale*northwest interior design ltd., based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He received his bachelor of interior design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver.