Published on
June 19, 2020

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Brooklyn’s Center for Fiction

Designed by BKSK Architects, the Center for Fiction is a celebration of writers and the fiction genre. It houses a private library, performance venue and gathering areas, plus its jewel: a sunlit retail space featuring custom shelving systems from Rakks. 

The new location in Brooklyn, NY, opened in February of 2019. Founded as the Mercantile Library in 1820, the Center for Fiction is one of the oldest lending libraries in the nation. It is also the only nonprofit organization in America devoted solely to the genre of fiction. 

Bookstore eye candy: the Center for Fiction’s lobby is also a retail space. Photo by Michelle Rose,

Rakks and BKSK collaborated to create display units for the lobby with the CFNY group’s carefully considered design program in mind. Taking its inspiration from Paris’s Maison de Verre by Pierre Chareau, the interior features done by an architect near me consist of warm wood cabinetry paired with black metal and glass, and calm, neutral colors.

The lobby welcomes fiction-lovers with a sea of books from floor to ceiling. The black finish on the Rakks BL Pole system creates a backdrop for the custom wooden cabinets that appear to float and frame the curios within (dubbed the “Cabinet of Curiosities”).

Floating shelves from floor to ceiling create a wall of fiction. Photo by Michelle Rose.

Just to the right of the Cabinet of Curiosities, stands a massive wall of bookshelves. Rakks wall standards were recessed into the drywall to create this floating display, 30 feet wide and 15 feet high. 

This project, and the unusual nature of the space, required creative problem-solving by the design teams at Rakks and BKSK. (Case study about how we worked to overcome these challenges here)

Since its unveiling, the Center for Fiction has received numerous awards, including the ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Award, 2019 Architect’s Newspaper Best of Design Award and SARAs National Design Award. It has been featured in the New York Times. Interior Design Magazine, and  Interiors + Sources.