Staring down an expanse of vast and powerful ocean in late summer is guaranteed to make you question two things: your own sense of self-worth, and that of your e-reader. Nothing like the glare, the saltwater, the sunscreened fingers, the sand to recommend a hard-copy book. But the closest thing to literature on pages you can see is the bulk of September Vogue.
Now imagine, dear beach reader, that you’re lying underneath a soft, fabric-covered alcove on a breezy stretch of South of France coastline, the sound of Mediterranean waters lapping at the shore. Behind you is a library with up to 350 books–real-life, paperback books–at your curious disposal.
This is the precisely the dreamy vacation scenario that French industrial designer Matali Crasset fulfilled by creating a mobile library (yes, it actually exists) for the town of Istres. Located on the beach of Romaniquette, the freestanding steel literary haven is open to readers through September. “This project interested me for its relationship with real life,” Crasset tells Co.Design. “It is a dynamic object. I was able to develop a project that meets, in terms of usage scenarios, a logic and a demand that is very present, human, and alive.”
The Bibliotheque de Plage is stocked with titles ranging from classic Jane Austen to works chosen by the designer herself, those that provided inspiration through the course of the project’s execution. It was also essential to Crasset that the temporary beach library was a tribute to the importance of maintaining physical, personally curated collections of books. She collaborated with the town’s municipal library to establish “a comprehensive cultural policy of access to the books.” Her summer structure, she says, “brings books to the population to encourage the practice of not only reading, but of lending.”