Pieter de Leeuw’s Letters Bookshelf

We always find something interesting and truly sui generis coming out of Dutch Design Week, especially from young students from the School of the Arts in Utrecht. In late October 2009, one of the nine designers who presented in the Utrecht Crushes show for recent graduates was Pieter de Leeuw, who studied industrial design. There, he exhibited his as yet unnamed thesis project, a bookshelf made of letters. The arrangement can be customized by switching around the position of the individual pieces.

Letters Bookshelf. Designed by Pieter de Leeuw.

Letters are made of EPS with a wear-resistant coating in different colors, but the real gem here is the wooden letters—which also serve as seating. The idea behind such a clever bookshelf really takes the reader into account, since sifting through a bookshelf necessarily leads to reading (or skimming at the very least), an act ideally suited to sitting. Why walk away from the bookshelf to find a seat when you can turn a piece of the bookshelf into its own stool?


Manipulating letters also echoes the very act of reading, so de Leeuw is enacting that age-old apophthegm, “Form follows function.” Books of all sizes fit within and atop the individual letters, with vowels such as E and A providing the best niches. If you’re a stickler for proper book treatment—for those of you collectors concerned with fragile spines and bookboards—then the letters with right angles such as H and L furnish the best support. Of course, the Letters Bookshelf is as much its own statement as the contents it holds. Space for books is limited by the arrangement of the piece, much in the way that other deviceful bookshelves act: see Disaster and Tree Bookshelves, Graffititek, and Oh, the Farmer & the Cowman Should Be Friends. Personally, I am a book lover and a book collector and I still want one of each. In my dream library, books would be arranged on these progressive bookshelves thematically, with American authors occupying the map-shaped bookshelf and abecedariums residing in the Letters Bookshelf. Now all I need is a generous patron!

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