A Powerful Bookshelf

Juxtaposed bookshelfWinter blahs got you down? Always complaining there's never anything worth watching on television? Why not treat yourself to a collection of books on some of the world's most interesting battles for power, presented in an eye-pleasing symmetrical bookshelf by San Francisco design team Mike & Maaike.
"Juxtaposed: Power," is the second installment of curated book collections fashioned on reclaimed wooden shelves the designers organize around a theme. Plato's "The Republic," "Leviathan" by Thomas Hobbes, and "Social Justice in Islam" by Islamist poet Sayyid Qutb are included in the latest texts selected by Athmeya Jayaram, a political philosopher and Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley.

The ideas contained in the books can be applied both to the power struggles of the past and present, says Jayaram. He says many of the world's conflicts start at basic questions such as "What should we value most – freedom or security, merit or equality? And who should decide – the few or the many, individuals or groups, man or God?" The books are a good place to start, he says.

Mike & MaaikeIndeed, 2,451 pages, 2,390 years, 2,251 wars, 432 revolutions, 90 empires covered in the seven books is a lot to take in. And the collection of different and sometimes opposing views of power and how it correlates to society is precisely why the designers created the Juxtaposed series.

For their part, they wanted to depart from just thinking about form and function to also create something with deeper meaning. Designer Mike Simonian says, "A lot of times these books aren't normally subscribed to or followed by the same person or household. And it's not about saying everyone's ideas are equal. The series is more about acknowledging there are other people in the world to find some way to not think of things in absolute. And to respect other people's beliefs."

The shelves measure 36"w x 8"d x 5"h at a price of $3,000. They're produced and sold by the design company blankblank. But there's only 50 being made. If you decide to spring for one of these, you'll be in good company. Brad Pitt bought the designers' first bookshelf collection, "Juxtaposed: Religion," for Angelina Jolie.
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