Incredible Optical Illusion Bookstore Looks Like a Real-Life M.C. Escher Painting

Shanghai-based architectural design firm X+Living has once again made waves with a stunning bookstore interior. By relying on optical illusions, they’ve transformed the Zhongshuge Bookstore in Chongqing into a mind-bending environment straight from the movie Inception. Using mirrors and staircases, the “ladder hall” is a reflective maze that cleverly houses bookcases in the steps. As visitors move about the space, they are brought into a surreal, never-ending adventure created by the optical illusion.

Visitors are immediately drawn to the repeating shapes of the staircases, with the warm wood tones creating a classic, cozy feel. To create continuity and flow, X+Living maintained an open concept in the hall through the use of glass railings. The books themselves provide punches of color, adding a touch of random chaos to the otherwise orderly environment.

The earth tones carry into the lobby, where conical shaped bookshelves appear to float within the space thanks to cleverly placed mirrors. These areas contrast with the colorful whimsy of the children’s reading area. Swathed in pink carpet, mirrors are once again used to give the illusion of an alternate universe mirroring the actual space. The beautiful built-in shelving adds interest to the space, as the shapes of each shelf transforms it into a sculptural art piece. X+Living has managed to maintain the sophisticated fantasy of the rest of the bookstore while injecting the room with kid-friendly whimsy.

It should come as no surprise that the Zhongshuge Bookstore has been named one of the most beautiful in the world. Through clever interior design, it’s an inviting and intriguing space to get lost in, wandering and discovering new literary masterpieces.


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