Trend: Organizing Books by Colour

Chris Cobb

Chris Cobb
It is possible this trend had it's origins earlier than 2004 but that was the year that artist Chris Cobb did an on-site art installation involving organizing one book shop's twenty thousand books by colour. The exhibition, titled There is nothing wrong with the whole wide world was completed by Cobb and a group of volunteers in one night. The effect (seen at left) was truly magical.

I've noticed that this organizational technique has become a decor trend and it pops up a lot lately in magazines and on blogs. The lovely thing about this is that it creates a sense of order in a room full of books. Have you ever looked closely at an Ikea catalogue, and noticed that the shelves full of books always have white spines? This is because a bookshelf filled with a normal array of books looks messy at best and junky at worst.

But what to do about that little messy shelf filled to the brim with books you love and just can't part with?

This solution is one that creates order in the chaos, is easy, affordable and makes for a really pretty display.Especially if you have colourful books. On that note, I don't advise going out and buying books just because of their colour. That would defeat the purpose of this. Anyhow, I'm seriously considering undertaking this approach with my own library. It creates a sense of peace in me when I look at the books organized this way, I think that's why so many designers are borrowing this idea. I also think I'll be able to find my books faster, because as a visual thinker I tend to remember the cover of a book very easily.

Here are some lovely examples. As always, click to see images at full size.

image source: apartment therapy
image source: design*sponge

source: Better Homes & Gardens

Could you also organize other things by colour to make them look prettier? How about CDs or your Vinyl collection?

I think it would be a great way to organize a collection of kitchen goods, and of course, the classic would be your sock or underwear drawers (if you are the colourful underpinnings type like me.)

Further reading:
Here's an article in the March 2011 Print Edition of Toronto Life Magazine featuring this technique.
An in-depth article on organizing books by colour from Design Observer.
Chris Cobb is also a writer who blogs for the San Francisco MOMA. Here's his page.
The Rainbow of Books flickr photo pool.

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