Online second-hand bookstore Duozhuayu opened a brick-and-mortar store in Sanlitun, Beijing, in 2021. The store was named Duozhuayu Recycle Bin. When second-hand and recycling bin are put together in one phrase, people are often reminded of the unpleasant state of our community recycling sites. However, that didn’t bother Duozhuayu. Not only did it name the venue a Recycle Bin, but it also called coming to the marketplace “wandering in the wilderness”. Here at Duozhuayu, concepts such as recycling, loitering, second-hand, and marketplace all became something retro and hip.
The Recycle Bin in Beijing got a grand upgrade in 2022 and makes it the brand’s first store that’s over 1000 m2. In the near future, the company will host market events and all kinds of exhibits in this venue. The venue itself is not cluttered with too many decorations or design elements. The Duozhuayu team adopted the philosophy of “less is more” made use of lighting, product arrangement, and other minimalistic display items as well as wall calligraphy.
Unexpectedly, the most difficult hoop the design team had to jump through was the design for the store front. Since the store was located in a strictly regulated commercial area, even a conservative design had to be approved by multiple authorities. The front wall was covered in a mess of wires that nobody knew whether they could be removed or not. As the temperature dropped, the team decided not to waste any more time. That’s why the new store front doesn’t have a sign or a spacious lobby. With wires hanging from the ceiling and holes in the walls covered, Duozhuayu went ahead and opened the store for business. Just let it grow, they decided. First impression doesn’t matter that much since the customers will know the difference as soon as they walk into the store.
A pair of symmetrical staircase leads up to the second floor. Climbing up the stairs make one feel like going down the rabbit hole—only to be amazed by the open space at the end of it. Sun light brightens up the entire space through two walls of windows. Standing in the middle of the room, you’ll get to see the Guomao Towers to the south and Sanlitun Taikoo Li to the north.
The venue was originally divided into 4 floors, making the 5-meter-tall space seem a bit suffocating. After lengthy negotiations with the proprietor, the team finally got approval to remove the steel structures that were dividing up space. Once the space was returned to a barren state, the designers used 8 sets of weathering steel to create new structures. The rusty-colored steel gives the space a touch of warmth. The windows and the skylight let in enough natural light to meet the lighting demand during the day. Only a few more spotlights are needed for different areas. At night, light strips from OUI’s LOGIC Series and LUMI Series’ square ceiling lights provide basic lighting for the venue and help control the venue’s color temperature at 3500K. The PRISM Series and MTA Series rail lights installed at different sections, controllable via Bluetooth, provide sufficient flexibility in lighting for different shows and seasonal arrangements.
The floor is paved with bricks commonly seen in public squares in Northern China. It wasn’t easy to find the right shade of green. The team spent a month searching for the right bricks. Now that it’s done, the design team is happy that familiar bricks will turn customers into friends. Also, nobody has to worry about dirtying the floor, because it makes indoor feels like outdoor. It’s the team’s wish to turn the store into a cozy marketplace that encourages people to gather and organize.
Started as a bookstore, Duozhuayu has never forgotten their exploration of “the essence of books”. The founding members had hope to expand revolving around books and make further exploratory efforts related to books. They want to meet the relevant demands. Yet, moving forward, maybe the team will advance around recycling instead of just books. OUI started in light fixture, but deep down, we’ve never stopped wondering the “essence of light”. Light fixture is only a media for light, while light is what truly matters to people.
Pay attention to the use of space, be proficient in lighting to create an indoor atmosphere, and integrate modern techniques and fitting elements into each design space.