“The Paradise is a great library”, said once Jorge Luis Borges, quoted by the founders of Carturesti bookshops themselves. And probably it is, as we can see every time we walk in one of the Carturesti’s bookshops. There is something magic – a world of books and ideas to find yourself. But how is this possible?
By Oana Vasiliu
First, it was a very small bookshop in Bucharest’s city center and the great year of 2000. Asked by OZB Magazine what do you do better than any other bookstore, Nicoleta Iordan, co-founder of Carturesti Bookshops, explained that “There is one thing that we take pride in doing at Carturesti and it’s something that we’ve been doing since 2000, when we opened our first bookshop, a tiny room covered in bookshelves on Edgar Quinet Street: we give our readers enough space to discover wonderful books, music, ideas and all sorts of objects with a twist. We strive to create the perfect setting for every journey of discovery that takes place in our bookstores. There are many readers who come here not only to find a gift for somebody or a book for their holiday but to find themselves. This, we believe, is the power of bibliotherapy and we do our best to help every reader meet the books that can enrich their life.”
Then, they continued to develop, from incredible beautiful architectural gems like Carturesti Carusel, known back in times as the Chrissoveloni bank and launched in 2015, to generous spaces in malls all over Romania and now in a concept store redefining the relationship between the bookshop and the city, MODUL Carturesti. For this particular project, together with Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, they opened a meeting place for students, teachers, visual culture enthusiasts and readers looking for inspiration. For this particular project, launched in mid-November, the design was signed by architects Constantin Goagea, Justin Baroncea Anastasia David Limona and Alex Condrea from Zeppelin group, while the visual identity was created by the designer Radu Manelici.
“Just like Stendhal we believe that beauty is the promise of happiness and this is probably obvious to anyone who visits our bookstores. We have paid a great deal of attention to architecture, interior design, lighting and visual identity, so that each Carturesti has a unique design concept behind it, created by renowned Romanian architects and designers, or by young emerging artists. This is how we managed to create a physical and mental space for lifelong learners and explorers,” added Nicoleta Iordan.
The Modul Carturesti has 180sqm and offers a bookshop and a coffeeshop, as well as an interior garden which wasn’t previously used by the public, transforming the entire place in a visual cultural bookshop, a campus bookshop, a greenery bookshop and also a city-lung bookshop. A true poetry for what’s happening on 18-20 Academiei Street, at Architecture’s University ground floor.
Will it be a challenge? Of course. But this is the business all about. “There are many surprises that come with running and working in a bookstore. The first myth we should bust is the idyllic view of us reading and talking about books all day long. There is a lot of physical work that goes into keeping a bookstore alive, from dusting the shelves to meetings upon meetings with providers and publishers. One other thing that came up in building this business was the paramount importance of the people in our team and the hard work that goes into recruiting them as we grow larger. But the biggest and most wonderful surprise we’ve had are the relationships we built with our readers and the constant feedback and ideas we got from them. We had people come to the bookstore with mix tapes and CD compilations of music that would sound good in Carturesti, we had readers bring us chocolates or send us postcards from their holidays, we even hosted quite a few marriage proposals”, sums up the co-founder of Carturesti Bookshops.
Credit photo – Catalin Georgescu