Actor Ashley Tisdale sparked heated debate on social media earlier this year after she confessed to buying hundreds of books to fill her empty bookshelves purely for aesthetic value just days before a team from a magazine arrived to shoot a video of her home.
“Any interior designer would have done the same,” Tisdale later wrote on Twitter. “They do it all the time—I was just honest about it.”
She may be right. The desire to use books, and libraries, as part of home decor “has always been there”, says Keith Chan, founder of Hong Kong-based interior design firm Hintegro. Architect Dara Huang, who is the founder of London- and Hong Kong-based architectural and design practice Design Haus Liberty, agrees. “A feature library wall is something that will never go out of style—it is as timeless as it is stylish,” she says. “People will always be passionate about displaying books as a way to decorate their shelves, no matter how digital the world gets.”
Beyond the design of bookshelves, their styling—and curation—plays an important role in the work the designers carry out. “Some people are very well-read, and just visiting someone’s bookshelf can tell you a lot about the individual,” says Huang. “[The books] can also be completely decorative, with false covers—or even being blank inside. It’s okay if you’re not into reading, and you just want a certain style.”