Little Free Library Design Competition Announces International Winners

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Some whimsical, some outlandish, more than 300 concepts arrived when Chronicle Books and the Little Free Library organization opened a competition for designs.

The winning design in the Little Free Library competition is from London, stands four feet tall, and has plexiglass doors to use in accessing its books. Image: Little Free Library

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Take a Book, Leave a Book’
According to the Little Free Library organization, more than 50,000 neighborhoods in 70 countries have the public-area free exchanges that operate on a “take a book, leave a book” program.

Chronicle Books has partnered with the nonprofit association—based in Hudson, Wisconsin—on a competition for eye-catching designs for these diminutive installations, asking international designers to submit their best ideas for book-serving boxes “that would be durable in all weather, usable at night, accommodate the height difference between adult and child readers, and suit the communities” where they’re situated.

A report from Chronicle Books says that 300 submissions from 40 countries were received, and you can see many of the winners and near-winners here.

A London designer, Bartosz Bochynski of Futumata, created the winning entry, which is called Owlie. The wooden owl is some four feet tall. From the news release about the design:

The winning ‘Owlie’ design at night.

“Books are accessed through plexiglass doors in the back and are visible though its eyes. A metal roof finish protects it from the elements.

“As Bochynski explains, Owlie “is made from affordable and ecological materials, and it can accommodate around 40 books which are visible in her eyes. There’s a shelf for kids’ books, a shelf for adult books, and a shelf for a notebook for visitors’ comments.

“All shelves are highlighted with LED lighting.”

Competition judge Renée Elaine Sazcı is quoted in the prepared statement, saying, “I love that in the evening, with the help of the LED lights, the owl’s eyes light up as a feature. This not only attracts people, but creates safety for the tiny library.”

Lea Randebrock’s design for Little Free Library, from Lahti, Finland

Little Free Library Honored Designs

Anders Hellsten Nissen’s design for Little Free Library, from Berlin

Judges Choice Award

  • Owlie by Bartosz Bochynski, FUTUMATA / London, England

Judges Choice Runner-Up

  • Seth Thompson / San Francisco, USA

Chronicle Books Choice

This award was chosen by the Chronicle Books creative team with a focus on production potential. This category had the additional requirement of being able to ship in a flat pack.

  • Rachel Murdaugh, Clark Nexsen / Asheville, USA

Chronicle Books Choice Runner-up

  • Lea Randebrock / Lahti, Finland

Stewards Choice

  • Tree of Knowledge by CIRCLE (Ryo Otsuka, Lin Zihao) / Tokyo, Japan

Stewards Choice Runner-Up

  • 4th Street Farms Little Free Library / Columbus, USA

Honorable Mention

  • Anders Hellsten Nissen / Berlin, Germany
  • Book Cheese by Xi Tan, Qian Sun, Yan Li, Xiaojing Zhang / Guangzhou City, China
  • Tree of Knowledge by CIRCLE (Ryo Otsuka, Lin Zihao) / Tokyo, Japan
  • Nicola Urban / Tolmezzo, Italy
  • Aiofe Marnane / Limerick, Ireland
  • Liminal Wall by Robert Cannavino and Myung Jae Lee (ASMAR), New York, NY
  • Anna Bijak, Jan Christian Hinrichs / Frankfurt (Oder) / Słubice
  • The Book Pinwheel by Naseem Alizadeh / Oxford, UK + Detroit, MI
  • Between the Folds by Ronnie Kataki, Jia Li Song, Edward Wang / New York City, USA
  • Tadah! Beach Day by Peter Salim + Yoona Ahn / Philadelphia, PA

Nicola Urban’s design for Little Free Library from Tomezzo, Italy

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. Prior to that he was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, a channel at The Bookseller focused on digital publishing. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.

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