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Flying Libraries

Flying Libraries

Design Expert Isabella Natter-Spets writes about old and new design in Bregenzerwald.

We’ve hunted down the personalities behind creating some extra special bookshelf stands and the search led us to Lingenau, the home of Ariane Grimm and Elisabeth Rüf-Küer. In point of fact, neither Ariane Grimm or Elisabeth Rüf-Küer is a trained designer. One is a mother interested in questions of sustainability and the other has an innate feeling for shapes and colours.As part of a training course provided by the Vorderwald energy region, both were tasked with coming up with a sustainable project together.

Coming up with an idea took some time and yet inspiration came while sorting through some old children’s books. Ariane had a stroke of creativity: children’s books, that individual families no longer need should be collected together in publicly accessible bookcases that are protected from the elements and situated in places children regularly pass. This prevents books and their stories from being tossed away. Instead the stories will land in the heart’s and minds of children.Sustainability refers not only to the contents of the books, it also refers to the materials that were used to make the three special book cases in Lingenau: they’re made from “trash.” The main bodies of the bookcases are made of cut materials from a local materials dealer, the legs are made from extra parts gleaned from a metal dealer, and the facades are made from leftover materials from a house that was built.

But before you start imagining some hobby project built by amateurs, imagine instead a clever design based on an interesting design draft by Ariane Grimm herself. Add in the professional guidance of her neighbour, the carpenter Wolfgang Bereuter, and the result is an attention-grabbing, elegant design situated in a public space.Built upon a metal tripod, the main body is cube-shaped with slats of various widths and a Plexiglas door. The combination lends the construction the friendly appearance of a square-shaped UFO, or perhaps a small, flying library. The facade of this UFO was painted to withstand the elements in contrast to many other constructions more typical of the region. “The bookcase stands should be visible from afar and be attractive to kids,” says Ariane Grimm. “That’s why we chose to use rich signal colours like yellow and orange as opposed to typical girl or boy colours. Blue was then chosen as a neutral tone and turquoise because it’s my daughter’s favourite colour.”

Since opening in summer 2015, the bookshelf stands have become quite popular with kids. Their popularity in turn has inspired volunteer coordinator Christiane Eberle to expand the project to the entire region. So it was that in spring of 2017 with the help of volunteers and the support of the Werkraum Bregenzerwald, 51 book cases were set up in 15 towns throughout Bregenzerwald from Thal to Schnepfau. These special public station ensure that kids always have access to “adventures in their minds.”

Author: Isabella Natter- Spets