Architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen invented this bookshelf system inspired by old wooden egg crates.
The eminent and urbane Washington, D. C. Architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen
, now partnered with his son Simon, has an answer for clutter. His famous egg crate bookshelves
, shown here in his own house, are now available, for the first time commercially, through Archermodern, (photo courtesy Washingtonian
). They can hold a lot of books elegantly: Jacobsen and his wife Robin have more than 4,000. The shelving system in another Jacobsen house shows how the
structure of the case makes the books appear to float, while the white
background sets off the warmly colorful bindings (photo courtesy Jacobsen Architecture
). The idea comes from the interlocking square modules in antique egg creates (photo courtesy Worthpoint
). According to Gretchen Cook in Washingtonian,
Jacobsen explained the virtue of the compartmentalized approach: “You
are always taking books off the shelves and the rest all fall down. With
this design, you can remove a whole foot and they won’t.” And some bays
can become display niches. San Francisco Architect Malcolm Davis took a more ustic approach to the slotted crate with this dramatic natural wood-toned two story wall (photo courtesy Malcolm Davis Architecture
In some older houses simply exposing the studs — before or perhaps in
spite of building codes — produced a sort of vernacular shelving system.
You can see other uses of the crate idea in many of
today’s storage boxes, like the handy “wing-lid” ornament bin from The Container Store.