Bookstore offers more than reading
By Alan Fong,The China PostGrace Wang (汪麗琴) runs a small bookshop in Taipei. Her 40-square-meter business is a quaint charming bookstore selling books on design and architecture and other accessories such as notebooks and envelopes.
February 20, 2012, 12:06 am TWN
Until earlier this month, Wang's shop goes only by the name VVG Something (好樣本事). Now it is probably better known as one of the world's 20 most beautiful bookstores.
In early February the bookshop was given that honor by a U.S. entertainment website Flavorwire.com, which described it as “almost utilitarian but filled with simple old-world grace” that resembles “what we might imagine our ideal ship's main cabin to look like.”
The beauty of the bookstore is not the fruit of precise calculation by a designer team or high-cost decoration but the result of Wang's taste. “The place where the bookstore sits now was actually a warehouse of our restaurant. The warehouse is too small to properly decorate and we didn't have a lot to spend on that so we pretty much left it as it were and brought in furniture I collected in the past,” Wang told The China Post.
“The red front doors of the bookstore was originally the old doors at a female dormitory of National Taiwan University. I bought them earlier when the university was renovating the dorm. When we decided to open VVG Something in 2009, those doors immediately came to my mind. It was as if they were meant to be in my bookshop.” Wang said.
In addition to a bookshop, VVG Something is more precisely a museum of Wang's travels and an extension of Wang's attitude toward life. Wang invested in the VVG (short for very, very good) restaurant group started by her friends about decade ago when she left Kuan's Living (寬庭), a Taiwanese lifestyle brand selling high-end furniture, bringing her expertise to the business.
At VVG, Wang is responsible for design, management and market development. Soon she made an uncommon move for most restaurant owners: in addition to expanding its core business, Wang reinvented VVG from a restaurant brand into a lifestyle brand.
“I developed VVG based on my experience in design and my attitude toward how living should be like. VVG started with a bistro, a cozy place described by one customer as 'a place like my old granny's home.' Then I decided to get into the outside catering business for fashion parties. Later we added fine dining to our portfolio,” she explained.
The breakthrough came with Wang opened VVG B&B, a boutique hostel with only three rooms but each with different theme. “I designed the B&B business according to what I experienced in my own travels and what I expect a good room to be like. It is quite popular despite having only three rooms.” Wang said.