Monalisa Bookstore opens the door to imagination

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By NG PAU LING

In an age of mass production and fast-paced online purchasing, often a delightful local bookstore filled with an extensive collection of curated books is an oasis to find. Luckily, there is one such store, Monalisa which it offers a unique experience for bookworms.

Located in Bukit Jalil, the Monalisa Bookstore is an individual bookstore with an adventurous atmosphere. Reading shoppers will experience a mixture of East and West, old and new in the bookstore as seen from its design — from floor planning to the selection of books — it is a bookstore that evokes the imagination with endless possibilities.

 

(From left) The Monalisa creative director Liew, bookstore designer Ooi and operation director Chiew.

The naming of the bookstore — Mona Lisa, represents the Western world’s best-known artwork; whereas “御书阁” in Chinese means the “Emperor’s Library”.

“Our vision is to build the most beautiful bookstore in Malaysia,” said Monalisa Bookstore operation director Chiew Wei Ping,  “A space for knowledge that is attractive and interesting to cultivate the reading culture.”

Although it is true that eBooks and online bookstores can provide fast and cheap “solutions” compared to a conventional bookstore; banking on the “experience” of visiting a bookstore is what Monalisa wants to offer.

“You will never get to know what kind of book or people you will meet in a bookstore. And this eye-opening experience might be the key to change your life,” said creative director Liew Wei Chyan.

 

 

The three floors bookstore combined the elegance and simplicity of modern interior design with the ancient practice of Feng Shui.

“Every element comes naturally and well-blends with the contemporary taste,” said the designer of the bookstore, Ooi Design & Associates CEO Ooi Boon Seong.

“The shoppers won't even notice that is a Feng Shui setting when walking through the space.”

West meets East: the dark-wood tone French Library-themed bookshelf contrasts with the red Oriental-style floor screen on the third floor.

West meets East: the dark-wood tone French Library-themed bookshelf contrasts with the red Oriental-style floor screen on the third floor.

Feng Shui is the ancient art of space planning that emphasis on the flow of energy (Chi). It ensures the interior nourished with fresh, bright and free-flowing of energy, where shoppers will feel comfortable when visiting the place.

“For example, one of the requirements by the Feng Shui master is the jointless glass and marble without grout lines for the entrance area,” said Ooi.

It leads to a natural and spontaneous state, for people to stay in harmony and calm.

In the ground floor, a light-tone wooden staircase is situated in the middle, seamlessly connecting the two shoplots without affecting the structural stability.

The wooden finishes and warm undertone lights set the tone for the space, which evokes an understated aesthetic for the bookstore.

 

Read to be content but not complacent.

The “Blank Squared Paper”-inspired wallpaper (九宫格) is another thoughtful design element that can appear on every floor.

“This is a blank sheet. It is a natural process to learn from zero, read and fill your page with the knowledge you gained from books,” explained Ooi.

Also, the blank page is a reminder to always stay humble in front of knowledge. Read to be content but not complacent.

 

The “Light of Knowledge” designed by Ooi.

A book holds a house of gold

The brass gold pendant light on the ground floor is made up of three books joined together to form a roof shape.

Ooi called it “the Light of Knowledge”. The design idea is derived from the Chinese proverb — a book holds a house of gold (书中自有黄金屋). “Be diligent in your studies, and the success and glory will follow,” he added.

Also, “Three” is understood metaphorically as the number which represents More and Everything in the Chinese culture.

“From the timeless wisdom of Laozi, Dao begets One (nothingness or reason of being), One begets Two (yin and yang), Two begets Three (Heaven, Earth and Man; or yin, yang and breath qi), Three begets all things,” said Liew.  (一生二,二生三,三生万物)

 

Bookstore-cum-cafe

There is a themed-cafe in each floor which include Modern Tropicana, Japanese styles and the kid-friendly corner; for guests to take a rest after experiencing the immersive bookstore collections.

On the ground floor is the Modern Tropical-style cafe: with geometric tiles, Bunga Raya (hibiscus) paintings, Mengkuang weaving artwork. Ooi attributed traditional Malaysian elements into a trendy design.

 

At the back is the Mengkuang weaving panels captures the local spirit. Besides, could you imagine the setting of the long table in front has incorporated the balancing of the Feng Shui’s five elements -- Gold, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth?

 

Besides the Japanese style resting area, the “Stone maze” on the second floor is another focal point.

According to Liew, the seven stone panels unveils the seven pillars that make up the rules of the world — the Chinese culture, the ancient civilisation, politics, economy, science, astronomy and music.

 

Sitting on the third floor is the colourful “Future” zone — the children's book area. Unlike the subtle wood tones being used in others areas, Ooi designed this zone with vivid colours and tiers of seats rising gradually.

In front of this section is a giant Tree of Life. “Reading is planting the seed of knowledge. We hope kids can explore the fun of reading freely in this zone, letting their imaginations fly and grow into a big tree,” Ooi explained.

Note: The third-floor area is only open on Fridays and weekends.

 

御书阁 Monalisa Bookstore

Address: F-8-1 PUSAT PERDAGANGAN, Jalan Persiaran Jalil 1, Bukit Jalil, 57000 Kuala Lumpur

Business Hour: 10:30am to 8:30pm (closed on Monday)

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