Commissioned by the British Council, Raw-Edges has produced Bloom, a loom-like structure with room for 80 books to be hung on taut wax cotton cord. The design has been created to tie in with the announcement of Granta magazine's Best of Young British Novelists list, a collection of 20 promising writers under the age of 40.
The list - which has been compiled every decade since 1983 and has previously included authors such as Martin Amis, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, Rose Tremain and Will Self - was announced last night. Raw-Edges' bookcase is designed to hold a book by each of the recognised authors, as well as books by each author named in the three previous editions of the list.
Bloom seats the books on black plugs attached to the cords that run vertically through its wooden frame, while each string also includes a small red bookmark that nestles within the pages of the book it holds. The bookcase was shown during Milan design week and will now travel around Italy, as well as to countries such as Japan, India, Canda, Kenya and Brazil, where it will appear at bookfairs, book signings and panel discussions connected to the Granta list.
"The brief was to produce a decorative flatpack room divider," says Alkalay. "But books can become quite meaningless, so we wanted to add some visual element to the piece. When you talk about books you’ve got an object that you need to store or hold somehow. You can put it on a shelf, but that’s not the only way you could hold it. That’s how this project came about, just asking the simple question ‘How can you hold a book in place?’"
The idea behind Bloom is one that the studio devised several years ago, but had never had the opportunity to execute."Sometimes you’re lucky and are approached by a client and you think ‘Oh ok, this idea can fit here,’ says Alkalay. The design is a commissioned piece and the studio has no current plans to release it as a product.
But the design does echoe aspects of a commercial project by the studio: Booken, a bookcase that Raw-Edges showed earlier this year for Italian company Lema. In Booken books are dangled over thin wooden slats that slot into their pages, allowing the books' spines form a rigid tabletop.
"Yael and I have lived in London for around seven years and moved flat about four or five times. Each time we find ourselves picking up the same books, putting them in a box, moving to the new house and then putting them on a new shelf. But we never read them. So why do we carry these books and never read them? We're interested in how you can use books, even if you don’t read them."
Bloom was produced at the request of the British Council and produced in a matter of weeks. As such, Alkalay says that refinements to the design may yet be made. At present, for instance, it is not possible to adjust the height at which the books sit on each individual string.
"We only had a couple of weeks to develop and produce the design, so we wanted to keep it as simple as possible," he says. "But I like this idea of the books moving up and down, then you could adjust it to suit your own system. So maybe we should do that, no?"