Oxford_Bookstore_MAIN.jpg
The Oxford Bookstore

Connaught Place, New Delhi

Normal Studio

Eloi Chafaï and Jean-François Dingjian

Surface collection, Tolix 2009 Photo: Morgane Le Gall

Basalt Coffee Tables (Limited Edition), Ymer & Malta Gallery Paris Photo: Normal Studio

Transitions

Central Area

Central Area

Cafe

Reading/Lecture Room

Oxford_Bookstore_MAIN.jpg
Showcase 31 Jul 2014

Normal Studio designs Delhi’s Oxford Bookstore

Normal Studio’s first interior design project in India is Oxford Bookstore in Delhi.

In 2014, Normal Studio completed their first interior design project in India— the design of the Oxford Bookstore in the historic neighbourhood of Connaught Place in New Delhi. Owned and managed by the Apeejay Surrendra Group, the Oxford Bookstore has pan-India presence with thirty stores across the country. With the relocation of the Oxford Bookstore to a heritage building in Connaught Place, the brand’s vision was to create an experiential space that included room for public gatherings and interaction  and a cafe within the bookstore premises.  The emphasis was not just on retail, but on creating a space that would help customers connect to the experience of reading. 

Normal Studio

Eloi Chafaï and Jean-François Dingjian

Responding to the brief, Normal Studio imagined a multi-faceted space with a historically respectful contemporary dimension. The flow within was the starting point that would govern the unity of the 500 square-metre space. Allowing the books to speak and presenting them through materials, light, and furniture resulted in an interior architecture structured around a series of ‘installations’. Each has its own precise function to pace the customer pathway. 

The Oxford Bookstore

Connaught Place, New Delhi

Entrance 

The entrance provides the first clue to the division of space. Attention is drawn away from its narrow dimensions by a large neon installation in which a cloud of words from literature plunges the visitor into the emotive world of reading. The neon typography installation was designed by Delhi-based design studio— Ishan Khosla Design. Comprising of two small rooms, this entrance space acts as the shop window of the bookstore. 

Transitions

Transitions

The bookstore is designed to be a flowing space without doors to give visitors an open experience. The transition between spaces is demarcated by the arches of the original historic structure, and painted blue to aid consistent recognition as passages between different parts of the store.

Central Area

Central Area

Central Area

The central space is equipped with library steps and ladders, with the book shelving covering the walls like a tapestry, creating a practical solution for storing many books in a small space. To minimise the physical presence of the shelves, Normal Studio assigned a graphic treatment of graded greys, from black at floor level to white at ceiling level, with artificial light to provide an even wash accentuating the calm atmosphere. The vocabulary of furniture is expressed in the 7.5 metre long table with six splayed-out legs in solid light-coloured wood created by the designers for the space. The table’s formal simplicity enhances the single wall of shelving designed as a pile of wooden boxes.

Reading/Lecture Room

Reading/Lecture Room

The central space leads into a long, narrow lecture room bathed in natural daylight: a quiet space in which customers can read or attend small gatherings. A large alcove bench runs around the walls, providing a place of individual escape and making the room a multipurpose space.

Cafe

Cafe

The chic, contemporary cafe, Cha Bar, entered through the five blue arches in space, is furnished to create a feeling of serenity. Here, the furniture takes on the role of defining the space. Custom-designed, marble-topped, metal-based tables in polygonal form, create freedom of layout and the illusion of a random arrangement. Lighting is provided by enormous circular ceiling units with concealed magnetic reflectors which spread light to every corner of the space. To increase the effect of evenly diffused light, an enormous mirror in folded sheet steel at one end of the room fragments reflections to return a deconstructed image of reality. The cafe features herringbone parquet flooring in black and white, cuing the shelves in the bookstore, complemented by white Tolix A56 perforated metal chairs, also designed by the designer duo, to create a happy marriage of the past and present.

With its open spaces and thoughtful details, the Oxford Bookstore at Connaught Place, New Delhi has set a new benchmark for retail design that is built from a holistic understanding of the desired experience. The joy of books is not measured in pages or words, but the journeys that they take the reader on, and the new Oxford Bookstore provides a tranquil setting for just that.

Normal Studio was founded by designers Jean-François Dingjian and Eloi Chafaï in 2006 in France as an industrial design practice. Their work in products, lights, furniture, and spaces is united by their shared love for simplicity—not to minimise, but to reflect their response to complexity. Their work stands out with its integral ties to the making and manufacturing process, made visible through characteristic soft lines and strong volumes. Their impressive roster of clients include Schneider Electric, Tefal, Ligne Roset, Forestier, and Tolix. 
Check out more work by Normal Studio at www.normalstudio.fr

 

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All images courtesy Normal Studio, except where mentioned.