Readings Doncaster is the bookstore’s first foray into a shopping centre context and as such it was vital that the store still represented the essence of Readings as everyone’s local bookshop. The theme of pages in a book was central to the design, with both shopfront and arches within hinting at this notion.
The key part of the brief from Readings was the challenge of ensuring their essence as an independent bookseller was maintained. Using the iconic aesthetic of the tiled street shopfront, the front facade playfully uses MDF arches to suggest the theme of books, without overtly implying their status. The interior is a further play on these arches – but in purer form.
Arched bookshelves lined with rolling ladders make up the bulk of the walls in the interior, while the use of black laminate with American Oak highlights gives the perfect backdrop for the books. The openness in the entry zone with a large low-lying domestic style table encourages the customers to wonder and really get lost in the store. The idea of reading and ‘staying a while’ is also encouraged by small private nook seats incorporated into the wall shelving, exuding a sense of generosity and intimacy and giving the feel of a local library.
The central modules can be moved around to allow the store to change through different seasons, while the low-lying nature of all the central units adds a rare openness where sightlines are constant through the space. Custom signage was designed specifically for the project, with a timeless solution being proposed that also gave the store total flexibility to rearrange stock as required.
It was important for Readings to engage and educate the community. Readings Doncaster needed to capture the company’s vision of ‘feed the mind, nurture the soul’, and it needed to be a space that facilitated the community in discovering and developing a passion for books. The community focus at this ‘local’ Readings bookstore can be seen through use of corkboard throughout the store, where posters and notices are pinned up, providing a link to the beginnings of Readings in the inner north of Melbourne.
The store also needed to differentiate itself from the two other bookshops already operating in Westfield Doncaster. Their usual approach of book launches and author readings began in locations where there was a well-established and highly educated literary community. This shop is designed to engage the suburbs and challenges the traditional role of the shopping centre, utilising the real estate (with all its foot traffic) as a driver for community engagement and education.