Our philosophy at PACKLAB is anchored around three pivotal points: challenge, reduce, add. We believe that our upmost responsibility as a partner to our clients is to challenge stagnant preconceptions, reduce the excess and the clutter, and add value. Any concept, product or experience can be greatly improved and differentiated if conceptualised through the prism of these three anchor points.
An excellent case in point is a new Japanese bookstore which opened its doors recently in Tokyo. Morioka Shoten is a tiny bookstore of “a Single Room with a Single Book”. It sells only one book; more precisely, multiple copies of one title that changes weekly, with a small book-inspired art exhibition on the walls. Its challenging, minimalistic philosophy and well-curated shows attract numerous visitors from all over the world.
The proprietor, Yoshiyuki Morioka, had joined forces with the design engineering firm takram who helped bring Morioka’s vision to life. A former bookstore clerk, Morioka believed that a single book will offer deeper understanding, closer relationship with the reader and essential pleasure of book reading. When pitching his idea at a serial event run by takram, Morioka elaborated with reserve – his only presentation material was a single piece of paper on which he had written “Regeneration of Bookseller Atom → A bookstore with a single book”. No more needed to be said.
Morioka's featured book changes weekly and is occasionally accompanied by art works, photographs or other related items; an exhibition of ceramic jewellery and objects by Mayumi Kogoma inspired by one of Kenji Miyazawa’s novels (1934's Porano no hiroba) is currently on show. Sometimes the shop appears more like a gallery than an actual bookstore – but it’s always the book that takes centre stage.
"This is an attempt to make the two-dimensional book into three-dimensional ambience and experience. I believe that the customers, or readers, should feel as though they are entering ‘inside a book’."
To call the space minimal would be an overstatement; the raw concrete walls and ceiling have been given a coat of white paint and the concrete floor left as is. The only furniture is a vintage chest of drawers that now doubles as a counter, Morioka’s personal work desk and a flimsy table displaying the single book.
Books that have been displayed so far include Finnish author Tove Jansson’s The True Deceiver, Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales, and works from well-known Japanese writers like Mimei Ogawa and Akito Akagi. Each title is displayed for six days in a row—Tuesday to Sunday—and then swapped out for a new book.
The logo for the brand was inspired by Morioka’s drawing which he brought to the first meeting with takram. The geometric shape embodies two meanings: “an open single book,” and “a single small room.”
In an interview with the Guardian, Morioka elaborates:
“This bookstore that sells only one book could also be described as ‘a bookstore that organises an exhibition derived from a single book’. For instance, when selling a book on flowers, in the store could be exhibited a flower that actually appears in the book. Also, I ask the authors and editors to be at the bookstore for as much time as possible. This is an attempt to make the two-dimensional book into three-dimensional ambience and experience. I believe that the customers, or readers, should feel as though they are entering ‘inside a book’.”
The branding statement crafted for this unusual entity reflects its uniqueness:
Morioka Shoten is a bookstore with a single book
vailable at a time, for six days.
Morioka Shoten is a bookstore with a single room
with an event to gather every night.
a single room with a single book
Stripped from all the clutter, challenging what we know a bookstore to be, adding emotional and tangible value to the purchasing and reading process, Morioka Shoten is talk worthy. It is also successful: customers flock to the location from all around the world, as sales numbers pass over 2000 titles since early 2015.
Hat tip to both tangram and Yoshiyuki Morioka for the good work.
Photography in this article is courtesy of Takram/Miyuki Kaneko
More information about this project: http://www.takram.com/projects/a-single-room-with-a-single-book-morioka-shoten/