Yan bookstore

Tomoko Ikegai / ikg inc. as Architects

Tomoko Ikegai creates space based on the concept of Eastern life based on the whole Chinese philosophy at Shenshen

Over the past thirty years, the population of Shenzhen has exploded from 300,000 to 1,400,000 people. It is unique among Chinese cities in that sixty-five percent of these residents are in their twenties and thirties, giving it a powerful new energy. The MIXC(Shenzhen Bay) commercial complex is located in a development area facing Shenzhen Bay where hotels, residences, sports facilities, and office buildings are clustered. We designed the 2,475 m2 bookstore on the third floor of this complex, called Yan.


The store’s Chinese name is 前檐, pronounced “quianyan.” “Yan” is the word for the decorative outer edges of eves on traditional Chinese buildings, which symbolize the East’s extension into the broader world. The owners of the bookstore chose this name because it represents their forward-looking vision of being at the leading edge of culture. The second part of the name, “Think Borderless, Discover Yourself” expresses the shop’s identity as a place for endless self-discovery.

  • Space ConceptEastern life based on the whole Chinese philosophy

For many thousands of years, China has been making outstanding cultural contributions to Japan and the rest of the world. Recently, bookstores have been opening all over China which on a surface level are beautifully and strikingly designed. However, we felt that especially in this forward-facing city, it was important to value China’s originality and individuality, exploring mystical images of the East in the context of globalization.


Taking as our theme the concept of “life in the East” from Zen Buddhism, which lies at the base of Chinese culture, we aimed to design a space in which visitors could engage in deep self-reflection and create their own unique stories. To achieve this, we closed off the façade with a rammed-earth wall that evokes underground geological strata, turning the interior into a hidden world of deep emotional and mental experience in contrast to the flashy hustle and bustle outside. 

  • Material &Design Concept

The rammed-earth wall incorporates soils that vary in color from amber to milky white. These shades form the base for the color scheme inside the store, which was selected entirely from natural earth tones. Tile in a mock Italian travertine pattern covers the floor, expressing the idea of accumulation through marble’s visual representation of earth hardening over many long years. The gold color of the bookshelves derives from the image of minerals within the earth, while the slender, delicate metal shelves express spirituality. By nearly erasing the presence of these exceedingly thin shelves, the design conveys the concept of immersing oneself in a sea of books.    


This is space to encounter the fountain of wisdom and search for oneself, a space that feels like part of the warm earth itself. It is our hope that in coming here, visitors will look quietly inward and experience a new world within.

Project Credits
Lighting Design
Visual Identity, Signage
Product Spec Sheet

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