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ORDINARY or EXTRAORDINARY a few words about BOOKCASES we all know and like

The history of a bookcase is fascinating. Although a bookcase may at first seem quite ordinary and plain, we need to realise that its beginnings go many generations back – bookcases were used in palaces, in manors owned by aristocracy and in tenement houses of wealthy townsfolk.
The future of a bookcase could also be interesting because of very many ideas of how to use it. Contemporary bookcases manage to combine functionality and top-class design. And, what’s more, they can be easily adjusted to fit any space.




Everyone can tell it’s a bookcase…


…but not everyone can fully understand the idea behind it. This is so because a bookcase, unlike any other pieces of furniture, doesn’t have just one prescribed function. Its function depends on its user.
To some people it’s just a bookstand. Some may admit it’s a place where they store tableware for special occasions. Others may use their bookcase to display the souvenirs they’ve brought back from their journeys or pictures of their family. And finally, there are some people who use the bottom shelves as a storage place for the cardboard boxes with their kids’ old toys or with some important documents.
To sum up – the best bookcase is the one that will meet your needs.

From a cupboard to a wall unit


The phenomenon of a bookcase was discovered a long time ago. The old, beautifully carved cupboards, which may be treated as direct line predecessors of modern bookcases, were manufactured to serve as functional household equipment (obviously, the way they looked depended on the financial standing of their owners); at present, they have remained a true rarity among antique furniture collectors.

Antique wooden cupboard with decorative carving from the mid 19th. century, source: Pinterest


Let’s not, however, get carried away – a bookcase started its career quite modestly. It was in the United States in the 1940s when the Eames, while looking for some practical solutions which could be applied in tiny flats, suggested using the so-called “storage unit,” i.e. a multifunctional piece of furniture that would help to organise the life within a limited space of a flat. The Eames’ storage unit consisted of a steel frame and a few shelves, made of plywood, which could be assembled to form any desired configurations. That breakthrough invention had its followers, who suggested some modifications. For instance, some designers from Brazil and Sweden used that solution as a source of inspiration and they created their own varieties of practical and lightweight wall units.
That highly practical approach was also prevailing in Poland. In the 1960s the limited space of flats and imperative multi-functionality of different rooms seemed to be much of a challenge back then. However, designers managed to deal with it simply by constructing a rectangular frame. The frame could hold everything – either cabinets, shelves or desks (and sometimes even beds). Such wall units enjoyed enormous popularity for a long time.



Polish legendary wall unit by Bogusława and Czesław Kowalski - architects from Poznań, designed in the early 1960s, photo: Pinterest


The old symbol for the new times

Nowadays, bookcases are no longer confined to flats or libraries. They appear all over the world. We can see them everywhere: in workplaces, cafés, or fashion houses - in all those places where luxury and beauty intertwine with the need for functionality.
A bookcase is perhaps the most individualised piece of furniture. To paraphrase the old saying, we could say: ”Show me your bookcase and I’ll tell you who you are.” There is much truth to it. A bookcase is meant to help us to organise our lives and to limit the chaos around us. Therefore, it is so important to have a possibility to design it your way....  
The place doesn’t actually matter. It can either be in your family house, in your office or in a public space. A bookcase can be used in all of these places.



Balma STEPPS shelving  units, designed by Piotr Kuchciński


Balma STEPPS shelving unit, designed by Piotr Kuchciński


Unlimited ways to arrange your space


It’s time to ask a vital question. What can the market offer us in terms of storage units/bookcases? Let’s focus on the shelving units from Balma STEPPS collection as an example.
With Balma STEPPS designing a positive and user-friendly space is as easy as ABC. Users can choose metal ladders connected by means of shelves, cabinets, boxes, and sliding doors and they can make a decision how they wish to arrange the particular elements. It is the users who can decide if they want their shelving unit to be a wall unit or if they want it to stand in a corner of the room or whether they will need to access that shelving unit from both sides. Free-standing units having a safe and stable construction allow to separate work stations in a natural way and to improve the comfort at work.
Just imagine - no more stacks of papers sitting all over your desk, no more photos accidentally stuck in your drawers, and no more books piling up on the floor.
What would you like to display?  Would that be the tableware, or maybe your grandpa’s collection of cigars or perhaps your “indoor garden” of potted plants? Once you name your needs you can design your own shelving units.