More than just a bookstore, Reading Mi is a multi-hyphenated lifestyle destination that lends richness to the physical retail experience.
Given the convenience and growing popularity of e-readers, physical bookstores doubtlessly have to do more to draw in the customer.
Located in 9 Square, a shopping mall in Shenzhen, China, Reading Mi is a lifestyle bookstore and concept store that aims to capture the huge market of 300,000 residences situated in the new and developing Long Hau District.
At Reading Mi, visitors can spend their leisure time pouring over books, but also shop for cultural design products, have coffee, and participate in workshops and seminars.
“The brand in Chinese is pronounced as ‘Mi’, which literally means ‘to search’. It is an ancient word so not many people know how to read it, and many would see it as a combined word of ‘不’ & ‘見’, which reads as ‘not seen’. So it is this ambiguity that makes up the magic of the brand story: since you can’t see the truth, therefore you are searching. Reading Mi [is a place] to search for your inner self. The bookstore is the cultural core, everything [else] spirals around it,” explains Hong Ko, partner at KL&K Design – the firm responsible for creating the project’s total brand experience.
The brand identity is based on the graphic representation of bookshelves. The overall layout of the store therefore neatly follows the linear grid of bookshelves, but as Hong Ko points out, there are also “a lot of [examples] of the witting marriage of graphics and space”, which is a one of the firm’s core strengths.
The bookstore makes up a third of the 994 square metre space, with the remaining areas allocated to a cultural/design product section, a café, and a children’s illustration book house.
A cylindrical floor to ceiling bookshelf with cushioned seating serves as a key focal point in the store. “We call it ‘the man and book united nook’,” says Hong Ko, “It serves as a strong visual DNA as well as a social media ‘photo opportunity’ (which has proven to be quite successful).”
By incorporating multiple retail and lifestyle experiences in a single, cohesive space, Reading Mi has certainly considered all ways to attract the customer of today.