Everyone knows how it feels to walk down a city street that they’ve walked down many times before only to find that a familiar shop or restaurant has disappeared, been remodeled beyond recognition, or replaced with something new. Although we accept these spaces as fixed elements of our environment they’re really quite ephemeral. Even if a building survives for hundreds of years, it’s refashioned again and again to suit changing needs and tastes.
A new book, “Staging Space,” spotlights some impactful contemporary interiors whose power lies in their theatricality — in the assertive way that they shape the way we live, work and entertain ourselves. The designs featured in the book don’t hold back, using the boldest geometries, colors, and lighting to hold a visitor’s attention. This strategy works best in spaces that people spend a limited amount of time inside of, like stores and restaurants. A denim shop in New York City gives over its central space to an enormous, tree-like light sculpture, while the clothes hang quietly along the wall. A sweater shop in Osaka is lined with an arched, honeycomb-like plywood shelving system that gives it a happy, trippy feeling.
Other designs shape a radically inward-looking space that pulls inhabitants away from the larger environment. Exhibit spaces and offices are often designed this way, in order to divert an occupant’s attention from outside concerns.