Spine-tingling

A “library artist” creates bespoke book jackets that transform shelves into art galleries

Thatcher Wine, founder of Juniper Books and a man considered by many to be a “library artist”, creates book displays for designers, architects and private clients from Miami to Marrakech. His speciality is jacketing entire collections – a cooking series or the complete works of Jane Austen, for example – with a single visual theme, so that when the tomes are placed together they create a unified artwork that transforms a bookshelf (such as using Rembrandt’s Lion Resting, second picture).

Based in bucolic Boulder, Colorado, Wine first gains a clear sense of a client’s requirements, whether purely aesthetic – involving the colour, size and binding wanted – or whether the books are to be arranged by subject matter and author. Wine’s range of services is vast, including curating collections of supersized art and design books, sourcing first editions and rare vellum books from England, and restoring leather-bound antique editions.

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Many of Wine’s clients – from Philippe Starck, whose hotel interiors feature thousands of Juniper’s monochromatic book jackets, to yacht owners, literary scholars and classic-car fans (first picture) – opt for the lightweight, waterproof paper and fabric covers that he has made a name for himself creating. Once the theme has been chosen, Wine either commissions an artist to draw what will become a mural spread across the book spines, or sources an existing image. Past commissions have included binding the collected works of Leonardo da Vinci, Agatha Christie and Jack London in a variety of coverings from simple silver paper to white vellum.

In the case of custom jacket art, projects are priced by the number of volumes and typically cost between $350 and $750 per square foot of shelf space, with sheepskin covers, rich fabrics and rare editions priced higher. Personalised literary collections – an owner’s favourite 100 books of all time, say ($3,500) – offer something for bibliophiles and art lovers alike. Commissions (including installation) typically take between four and six weeks, with larger libraries ($10,000-$100,000) and more complex requests taking up to two months.

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“Books are things of knowledge and exploration, and tell people something about who you are,” says Wine. A custom collection by Juniper Books certainly speaks volumes.

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