OHWOW Book Club
227 Waverly Place

New York, New York
Tel: 646-370-5847
Designer: Rafael de Cárdenas/Architecture at Large

Below street level in a West Village brownstone is OHWOW, a pocket-sized bookstore whose design was inspired by a 1988 Swatch watch. Streamlined graphics and angular mylar shapes were chosen to create a mood of “disorientation and melancholy” that focuses visitors on the space, said designer Rafael de Cárdenas. “It makes them forget where they are coming from, and sucks them into this world.” Drawing on his vintage Swatch collection, along with the geometric patterns of Navajo blankets and prewar New York City bathrooms, Cárdenas transformed what once was a Laundromat into a sleekly styled lair for the creative collective OHWOW, which specializes in downtown art offerings. Serving both as boutique and reading room, the 150-square-foot space includes a black-and-white tiled floor, as well as a floating shelving system illuminated by raw bulbs on porcelain bases, and fluorescent light fixtures in the ceiling. In a few bold moves, Cárdenas offers a strong identity for the collaborative, which aims to make artist-produced goods more accessible to the public. “Generally, bookstores tend to be under-designed,” he said. “But I think it’s better to be a flash in the pan.”