Foyles’ new flagship “bookshop for the 21st century” will contain a light “atrium at its heart”, the company has revealed.
Sion Hamilton, manager of the new Foyles—located at 107 Charing Cross Road—has revealed a few more tantalising details of its design to The Bookseller.
He said that an atrium will run up the centre of the building “full of light, so all the voices that are contained within that building—people as well as the books—can at some point mingle and merge at the centre of it.”
The company had previously asked its customers and professionals in the industry to come up with ideas for the how the new Foyles should look, in workshops conducted
in partnership with The Bookseller.
One of the suggestions was to create a YO! Sushi- style conveyer belt of books running through the store, but this was too difficult to incorporate.
However, Hamilton admitted “this one I could not resist, I could not drop it.” So instead he decided to reverse the idea, and enable customers to browse and select books as they travel up and down the floors of the new store.
Hamilton said: “Suddenly as I went up an escalator at Bond Street Station the thought struck me: what if we invert the idea? Working with the architects, we devised a slot cut into the side of the atrium and lecterns that sit on the landing of each floor. So as you move up the shop you pass all these lovely books.”
The new store will also feature a cultural centre on levels five and six. An event space with a glass wall will look down into the shop and a café will run alongside. “The three spaces can interact, inform and be informed by the bookshop,” Hamilton said. “Here is the place you can trip over new ideas and come and graze at tables of knowledge.”
He added: “As for the rest of the shop, we have ensured that each room feels different, and have arranged them as such so you will just want to roam and explore, dwell and find new things. We have also thought carefully about where we put our tills.”
The new store will open with a three-week festival from 11th June–4th July featuring Sarah Waters, Simon Armitage, P D James, Michael Palin and Malorie Blackman, among others.
Before it moves premises, an exhibition at Foyles’ current Charing Cross Road branch will show some of the notable moments and characters in its 111-year history. The exhibition will be held throughout May, marking “the transition from the old flagship store into the much-anticipated new one,” Hamilton said.