BRAC bookstore

A few steps from Piazza Signoria and the Uffizi Gallery, hidden amongst a plethora of courtyards of the historic center of Florence, the BRAC bookstore unveils itself as a space belonging to the Florentine society, both secretive as well as fascinating where one can read, eat, drink or simply pass the time in an embracing and hospitable environment.

The project of its interior spaces is made with minimal yet accurate and immersive interventions which are the work of architects Javier Deferrari and Lavinia Modesti.

The architecture studio DEFERRARI+MODESTI, already the author of various interventions in which a call for an original experimentation in material and constructive solutions emerges, have designed and given an identity to the interior of the BRAC bookstore of Florence, characterized by ingenious ideas which are extremely simple and capable of creating a comforting and immersive atmosphere. The BRAC bookstore can be found in Via de’ Vagellai number 18, a few steps away from the Uffizi Gallery. The multifunctional space of 75 square meters offers a reinterpretation of the idea of the classical café littéraire and is comprised of a contemporary art bookstore, a cafe and a kitchen where vegetarian and vegan dishes are prepared. The rich cultural programming offered in the last years has accompanied a variety of encounters and of relations. It is in this context that Javier Deferrari’s and Lavinia Modesti’s interventions are born. First, with a temporary installation (created alongside architects Valentina Muscedra and Sergio Leone), and with a tuning of a more integral solution to the acoustic problem and finally the restyling that brings the place to its current configuration. The capability of building relations is part of the success of the surprising space, which offers the Florentine public a lively interaction with the contemporary.

In the renewed form of the locale, the spaces, although not expansive, have been rendered even more functional and comfortable through some punctual solutions such as the transformation of the entrance which has gained a showcase space. Furthermore, the existing bookshelves have been replaced so as to offer more visibility to the extensive book collection. Durmast wood is used for the new shelves as well as for the table tops -which rest on old iron bases of garden tables- and serves as a counterpoint to the monochromatic creme white of the walls. The old ceramictile floor of the two rooms has been substituted with a bamboo parquet flooring which regulates the space.

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Here’s how architects Lavina Modesti and Javier Deferrari, who have chosen to leave some signs of previous architects’ interventions (such as Arabella Bettazzi and Giorgio Ferone) still in site, describe the renewed BRAC bookstore, reopened to the public last summer after the last restyling.

“With our project we wanted to renew the atmosphere without distorting it and leaving the stratigraphy of previous interventions visible. The selection of the contemporary art books is very accurate and deserved, in our opinion, more visibility. The courtyard, the true heart of this place, is where we were able to express our creativity to the fullest.”

The shop window, that constantly changes by presenting the latest book and photography acquisitions, is characterized by a series of interchangeable mobile elements which the owner Melisa, who has a true passion for books and is interested in all things contemporary in all of their expressive forms (such as art, theatre, dance, cinema and photography), can easily use and rearrange. In the kitchen, the co-owner Sacha, who is a creative chef specialized in vegetarian and vegan cuisine, gives free expression to his culinary inspirations.

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