“Perfect people, perfect store, perfect brief,” says architect Cecile Bonnifait of Wellington’s newest bookstore Good Books.
Given less of a brief and more of a mission to provide space for as many books as possible, Bonnifait, of Bonnifait + Giesen, had a shell of a space to work with and a blank shopfront. The ‘brief’ came from Catherine Robertson, who had worked with Bonnifait on her own home, and business partner Jane Arthur.
Since meeting in 2015 while completing their masters in creative writing at the International Institute for Modern Letters, Robertson and Arthur had been working up a plan to promote New Zealand authors. Their ideas eventually evolved into opening a bookshop and the timing was right post-lockdown, as people retreated to their homes and found solace in the written word. “We know that books and independent book stores are having a resurgence,” says Robertson. “With the worst-case scenario already on us, we are here for the long haul and incredibly committed to making this work.” (Commendably, Good Books is New Zealand’s first living-wage bookshop.)
The shop isn’t large but it is tall and luminous. The design intent was to elongate the space, create circulation with a central island, and enable customers to instantly locate the section they needed. Plywood cupboards and shelving rise from the concrete floors. The combined smell of ply and paper is as enticing as the clarity of the design.
“Frankly, it’s such a bold move,” says Bonnifait, of the city’s newest literary destination.
2/16 Jessie Street, Te Aro, Te-Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington