Dry Wall

Shannon Mattern’s “Before Billy” reminded me of one particular afternoon, I was 16 or 17, spent on Vitsoe’s online configurator, imagining my own 606 Universal Shelving System. I would save for one shelf, take it to college, then expand throughout my life — so the plan.

“You will not spend 150€ on one shelf!”, my dad said, “and besides, you’ll have to plaster the drill holes every time you move.” I bought a Billy instead.

Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t get the 606. Mattern writes, “shelves have evolved along with the walls that have supported them.” Since I moved to the US I have lived only in rooms clad in dry-wall, cheap construction making it hard to hang anything, let alone a heavy bookshelf. In New York’s tiny apartments, there isn’t much space for books elsewhere either. So I own fewer books. Perhaps it is dry wall that ‘killed print’?

One Reply

  • Thanks, Philipp! Just as iron construction made possible the grand bookstack — like those we see in Labrouste’s libraries, the NYPL and BPL, perhaps the cheapening of our building materials necessitates a new form of shelving that’s less dependent upon architectural support.

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