London's Most Beautiful Bookstore by

Issue 56 · In the Library · January 24, 2013

London's Most Beautiful Bookstore

Issue 56 · In the Library · January 24, 2013

In 2009, literary agents Sarah Lutyens and Felicity Rubinstein opened their Notting Hill bookshop (named after their eponymous literary agency, Lutyens & Rubinstein) on a simple premise: to recreate the magic they remembered from the bookshops of their childhoods.

With more than 4,000 hand-picked titles, a visit to Luytens & Rubinstein is like popping into your favorite boutique where you feel a kindred spirit with the owner; implicitly trusting their judgment and knowing with full confidence that you’ll be going home with that perfect something you went in for. With an intent to replicate this experience with books, the pair worked with young architecture firm De Rosee Sa to convert a 1,100-square-foot, two-story space into a bookworm’s paradise; using intelligent design to maximize space on a modest budget.

Unless otherwise noted, photography by Dennis Gilbert/View.

Lutyens & Rubenstein, London bookshop, shop front in Notting Hill

Above: Lutyens & Rubinstein is on Kensington Park Road in London's Notting Hill. Reams of text flying out of an old fashioned typewriter designed by Container Plus is an example of the witty spirit to be found within.

Lutyens & Rubenstein, London bookshop in Notting Hill, book sculptures hanging from ceiling, black book shelves, modern globe pendants, staircase with white railings, Sarah Lutyens, Felicity Rubinstein

Above: "The design of the shop reflects the characters of its owners, Sarah Lutyens and Felicity Rubinstein," say the architects De Rosee Sa. Photograph on right by Tif Loehnis.

Lutyens & Rubenstein, London bookshop in Notting Hill, book sculptures hanging from ceiling, black book shelves, modern globe pendants

Above: Sculptures by Container Plus, made from the pages of old books, decorate the ceiling.

Lutyens & Rubenstein, London bookshop in Notting Hill, book sculptures hanging from ceiling, black book shelves, detail of modern globe pendants

Above: The architects designed innovative custom lighting that was less expensive than off-the-shelf lighting.

Lutyens & Rubenstein, London bookshop in Notting Hill, book sculptures hanging from ceiling, black book shelves, modern globe pendants, staircase with white railings

Above: "The bookshop has been designed for complete flexibility; joinery cubes on castors allow for the rearrangement of the counter, while shelving modules have the ability to be transformed from seating alcoves to three different book display arrangements," say the architects. Photograph by Container Plus.

Lutyens & Rubenstein, London bookshop in Notting Hill, book sculptures hanging from ceiling, black book shelves, modern globe pendants, staircase with white railings

Above: A high level steel rail supports the modular globe lighting.

Lutyens & Rubenstein, London bookshop in Notting Hill, canvas bags by Re-wrap, Westbourne Honey jars

Above: Lutyens & Rubinstein also stock "other necessities," such as Lutyens & Rubinstein canvas tote bags produced by Re-wrap and local honey made by Rubinstein's husband. Photograph by Tif Loehnis.

Lutyens & Rubenstein, London bookshop in Notting Hill, book sculptures hanging from ceiling, black book shelves, modern globe pendants, staircase with white railings

Above: The book sculptures and bespoke globe lights draw the eye upwards from below.

Lutyens & Rubenstein, London bookshop in Notting Hill, sliding black bookshelves reveal offices behind

Above: Downstairs, sliding bookshelves conceal the office of the literary agency, Lutyens & Rubinstein. When the sliding bookshelves are open, the entire space downstairs can also be used for film screenings or book signings.

Lutyens & Rubenstein, London bookshop in Notting Hill, book sculptures hanging from ceiling, detail of black book shelves with Container Plus book sculpture

Above: A book sculpture made from an old book by Container Plus shares shelf space with new books. Photograph by Tif Loehnis.

Above: The architects discuss the design challenges and their solutions with their client Felicity Rubinstein while displaying the engineering behind the sliding bookshelf in this video via The Architect's Journal.

N.B. Lutyens & Rubinstein also stock CB Perfume inspired by novels, poems and libraries from the Brooklyn-based, award-winning former cab driver Christopher Brosius, who hated the synthetic lingering perfumes left by passengers in his cab so much that he was compelled to develop one of the most unusual ranges of scent in the world. For other perfumes inspired by literature, see 5 Favorites: Literary Inspired Fragrances.



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