Bookish Bookshop is a bookstore cafe concept that specializes in selling used books and records while having the best comfort cafe beverages and sweets around.

Envisoned to be in the heart of Brooklyn, NYC - Bookish was aimed to keep the rich history of bookstores in NYC alive while taking on a more contemporary look for a bookstore. I was heavily influenced by stories of  “Book Row” on 4th Avenue in Manhattan in the early 1900s. Where dozens and dozens of bookstores had prospered selling and trading books in NYC. Today, there are about two left near the area that isn’t a Barnes and Noble. The Strand and Alabaster Bookshop.

To me, there is a magical feeling when I enter a used bookstore. It’s like entering a portal to a place of so much history and wonder, with more things to discover around every corner. The smell of aged paper, classical jazz usually playing, going to pet a store cat laying on a stack of books, and also giving an old book a new home is a special feeling. Also buying used books is a great way of being environmentally conscious and a sustainable method of consumption. Buying used books prevents the same books going to landfills, decreases demand in newer reissues of older books, is budget friendly, and overall food for the brain.

However, as technology accelerates books and bookstores unfortunately decline. And although such things as thrifting, buying used consumables and entertainment are very much in right now, it can be hard for a local store to live and compete. But a solution to this issue is making and selling branded merchandise. In recent years more and more book and record shops have leaned into this idea and focused on their branding. This gives the bookstore an additional source of income to go along with selling books, records, coffee, donuts, etc but as well as humanizes the store to the customers.

When figuring out the branding, I wanted to utilize type that seamlessly felt new and contemporary but retained an attitude of vintage NYC typography seen on building signage, bulletins, advertisements, and billboards in the early to mid 1900s. This could be said about the visuals as well. I wanted to capture the urban aesthetic and attitude feeling that comes with the city of New York.  

Go paper or reusable, you decide

I have a great joy in designing the nitty gritty details of everything. I cannot get enough of the idea of finding everything that can be designed and make it personable to what I want it to be. A tag, a receipt, a sale tag, these small details to me are just as important as big items. To me it helps create an atmosphere around all the deliverables and as well as helps create the emotion that these are existing, aged, and already lived in features of our world.

The details are just as important

Bookstores and cafes are a great resource. Not just to consume knowledge, caffeine, and maybe a sugary snack but a great resource of public space. To go sit down, grab a bite and read a book, go grab a coffee and work on that project, or to simply go to just get away. As a designer I have learned relatively recently the importance of breaks and different work places. It can be hard sometimes to wake up and have to work in the same 10” x 10” space everyday. 

For the cafe aspect of this project, I wanted to use more natural montones in the deliverables. Greens, browns, whites, and greys that connect back to the idea of vintage/ antiquey while also remaining to be very consumable and flexible with the customer’s personal color tastes. Greens and smooth tone browns are also colors that are known to sumbliminaly reinforce the idea of hunger and thirst to the consumer eye.

Butcher paper references
vintage NYC bulletins

Overall, this was a project that was very important for me. For one to let me explore the idea of creating a whole identity that captures a lived in and worn attitude but second to create it for a type of store that I hold close to heart. I’ve enjoyed reading, collecting old books, and honestly getting away for a second to look at books that were once loved and enjoyed by many. Trips to book stores has helped me as a designer in my times exploring the shelves shuffling through page after page but also as an adult. Mainly, to stop once and awhile and take the little things in once and awhile. 

Instructor: Jason Kernevich

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