They’re of an art installation in San Francisco called ‘There is Nothing Wrong in This Whole World’. Chris Cobb, a local artist, rearranged every single one of the 20,000 books in the Adobe Book shop by colour.
Of course, the book shop no longer functions efficiently as a shop: can you imagine the horror of trying to find the book you want or how unpredictable the browsing experience would be?
Having said that, I find the photos absolutely captivating, I also find the idea of organizing content by colour absolutely fascinating as well. Especially when it comes to books.
As a designer I’ve been collecting reference books since about the age of 15. Mainly because you can never have enough inspiration, but also because I find a certain joy and pleasure in owning books as objects themselves.
I could, of course, just drop them straight onto the shelves as I buy them. But being a designer I like to apply a certain order to things, and because it’s a working library, I also like to be able to find things once in a while.
However, whilst I often know exactly which book I’m looking for, I often can’t remember the title, so organising alphabetically doesn’t work for me. And, unlike fiction, arranging them by author isn’t necessarily helpful.
An obvious approach would be to group them together by category. Typography, new media, monographs, history, print, semiotics and so on. But many books cross over several different categories, making pigeonholing a book feel rather arbitrary.
However, as a designer, organizing my own book collection by colour actually makes a lot of sense. My memory is very visual – often I can remember what a book looks like before I can remember what it’s called. I know it’s the one with the dark, grungy spine, but not what it’s called exactly.
So, here’s my reference shelf organized by colour:
It’s definitely not a system that would work for everyone, and in fact for anyone else browsing my books it would be absolutely useless! However, for me as the owner, it’s perfect. I know exactly where everything else is and can lay my hands on what I’m looking for quickly and easily.
Which makes me wonder what else this could be applied? I know, how about the t-shirts I own? Hmm, that might be a little bit keen.
Yeah. I thought so too.