In an environment to furnish, at home as well as in an office or a shop, if there is a need to organize, display or store objects or books and you have a wall completely empty, we can think of inserting a shelf or a bookcase. But if we don't have other free walls to exploit or, on the contrary, we have a wall only partially furnished and we want to take advantage of to complete it with other elements, surely a shelf or a composition of multiple shelves and shelves is what suits us!
The shelf in furniture originates from the architectural elements of the same name, which can be outlined in a horizontal shelf that protrudes from a vertical wall in order to support the loads also protruding, with a function, just like in architecture, both of transmissions of loads and decorative. The system is also simplified and slimmed down in the furniture, resulting in the lowest loads, and the weights are directly supported by a shelf and then transferred to the wall thanks to the connection elements called shelf supports.
And as in architecture, where the shelf has been known since the Neolithic as a fundamental element for the construction of arches, balconies or battlements, for example, the current furnishing shelf can permanently connect the shelf and its contents to a solid wall, either by using the visible shelf supports or by using invisible fittings, such as screws and plugs, to be fixed discreetly to the wall.
The shelf: a creative line that supports, organizes and furnishes
Thanks to the freedom of composition that distinguishes them, the shelves make perfect use of the walls, adding precious extra surface for the organization of the space and adding creativity to the surfaces themselves that, in the presence of shelves and wall shelves, are like real white sheets on which to design new and creative furniture.
Over the centuries, following the fundamental need to support loads, the shelf has taken on the most varied shapes and sizes and has investigated the resistance of many materials, characterizing various styles or adapting in a discreet and versatile way to them. Indeed, for the simplicity of the concept behind its operation, the shelf is one of the furniture elements most used in every environment, from the home to those of work, from commercial spaces to archives, warehouses to the most technical environments, becoming among the most popular objects also do-it-yourself, where both the custom-made shelves from DIY as well as the most defined design shelves proposed by the different brands of furniture can be fundamental material to add a personal and creative touch to the finished work.
Forms and materials of the shelves for all functions and combinations of furniture
Through the combination of the various elements, the load-bearing function of shelves and shelving also finds its final form, responding at the same time to a structural, organizational and aesthetic need like few other elements of modern furniture. For this reason, shelves are essential furnishing solutions in any environment: in fact, they allow you to store and permanently display various objects, to easily organize them in a modular perspective, optimizing the space available, both winking at the most extreme design and moving undisturbed and adapting with balance, sometimes even in a camouflage, to stylistically defined situations.
Straight, curved or flexible shelves, cube, cylindrical or rectangular shelves, long or short shelves, light or solid shelves, rigid or resistant shelves, the shelves are perhaps the simplest and at the same time most versatile furnishing element available to companies, architects and final consumers to furnish, in which simple forms or the combination of the same can be declined in every possible style to create the desired design. In fact, the material, along with shape, style and color, is a fundamental creative ingredient in the recipe of a shelf of furniture. Just as over the centuries it has known the most varied shapes and sizes, the shelf has also investigated the resistance of many materials.
And so, from the most traditional shelves in wood, stone and metal, today we have arrived at the increasingly imaginative and refined design of lightness, embodied in the metal shelves, also obtained by bending the sheet metal and therefore with an optimized production process. They range from the simple, modular design of simple shelves or wall cubes and shelves in plywood, MDF and chipboard, to the warmth and reassuring, massive impact of natural, multi-layer and solid wood shelves, to preserving only the wooden aesthetic in veneered or laminated wood shelves.
Daughters of transparency and, once again, of lightness are the crystal and glass shelves, which everywhere make it possible not to lose continuity to the walls and surfaces, so that the gaze crosses them vertically and horizontally to go further, in nearby or more distant environments, to ideally suspend objects and books outward.
Fantasy and new creativity then emerge in the new ceramic shelves, in the Solid Surface and natural stone tops, and above all in the contemporary and minimal design marble shelves, often in continuity with other furnishings and complements, or in the infinite shapes of the plastic shelves, including those in recycled plastic or in the many extremely resistant and light composite materials, or of the shelves in cement, plaster and plasterboard materials, up to the sinuousness of the shelves suspended from the fabric and the leather shelves.
The material and the sturdiness of the shelf support the load that the shelf supports. The type of installation of the shelves, on the other hand, adapts to the specific wall available: for example, the built-in shelves make perfect use of the niches in the walls, while the protruding shelves go almost everywhere, or, finally, in load-bearing walls or in any case sufficiently resistant, you can opt for shelves with concealed fixing, where the brackets of the shelves are not visible and the final design of the furniture is cleaner and more minimal. An extreme example of this is when you use a cantilevered staircase from the wall to use a portion of it as a shelf or bookcase. Finally, in addition to the simple open shelves, there are more and more often combined drawers, which turn the shelf into an object complete with furniture.
Styles and icons: the design hidden between shelves, bookcases and shelves
Among the styles that have created the most real standards in the design of the modern shelf, we can certainly find the Scandinavian style, with the classic Swedish bookshelves with multiple shelf uprights to be fixed to the wall or to the ground and on which to rest or fit more shelves, distancing them as you want. Swedish-style modular shelf-mounted bookcases have created an iconic system practically developed by almost all manufacturers of living room furniture and wall systems thanks to their lightness, essentiality, modularity and ease of assembly.
A simplified and even easier version is the marine style shelf, in which the shelf supports are made with ropes or ribbons of resistant fabric hung from the wall or ceiling, and in which the shelves, leaning between a knot or a spacer and the other, tension the structure thanks to their own weight and the loads supported.
The most contemporary icon, which embodies the very essence of 'flexibility'; of the design shelf, is the Bookworm by Kartell, where the creativity of the famous Israeli designer and artist Ron Arad, combined with the technology of industrial extrusion of plastic, gives life to a very revolutionary shelf project as it is a real bookcase made of a single long shelf flexible and adaptable to different shapes so as to obtain many figures dictated exclusively by personal creativity. Bookworm is in fact a sinuous bookcase, which, designed between its fixing points, takes on the desired shape, ensuring at the same time resistance and functionality.
Shelf and office: the perfect couple!
The shelf, a simple unit of infinite more complex systems, is capable of adapting to indoor and outdoor spaces, but is at ease at home and in the office, as well as in the new hybrid environments that are dedicated to homeworking at home and that experience an increasingly welcoming aspect of the work environment, even in its most technical and functional declinations.
And in the office, shelves are the main extensions of shelving and document systems as well as operating tables and work islands, often already integrated into furnishing systems, even in the most technical, thus integrating more discreetly, from lighting systems to the passage of cables, up to wireless charging surfaces, to take advantage of the lines designed on the walls to hide technical compartments, as a result of perfect harmony and order. The brackets, shelf supports and shelf supports, which in their most essential form are triangular or 'L' shaped, together with the screws and dowels necessary for assembly, are indispensable complements and accessories for this piece of furniture. They are combined or integrated with the shelves to fix them to the wall and make them able to support and transfer to the wall even large loads of books and various objects.
Where to install a shelf? One basic object for all environments
The classic shelves as well as the modern and design shelves and shelves are now available in an almost infinite variety of shapes, materials, styles and colours, perfect for every area of the house, from the living room to the study, from the bedroom to the children's bedroom, from the kitchen to the bathroom, up to the service areas and outdoor spaces. The same versatility, then, multiplies the infinite possibilities in terms of environment in each of the destinations of use of the same environment, from private to public space, from work to business. In fact, if in a living room or studio wall shelves or wall shelves very often become home to books, collections and ornaments, thus supporting relaxation or homeworking, in a more specific and equipped space such as a home theater or a corner for listening to music, the book shelves can easily place and organize the various functions of projection, acoustic diffusion and support of various devices, in a simple and discreet way, exactly where they are needed.
In a bedroom the shelves offer shelter for books and point reading lamps, sometimes becoming one with the light thanks to the integration of the lighting inside, in continuity with the bed, to be more and more often a valid alternative to the classic bedside tables, which can also become a complementary solution. The shelf also becomes an essential element, in a bedroom but also in an entrance hall, to create an essential wardrobe corner as well as a complete walk-in closet. In a children's room, the shelves will house mainly toys and boxes of all sizes to introduce from an early age the sense of order through shelves themselves part of the 'game'. The shelves of the children's bedrooms will then gradually satisfy the needs of the school, the studio as well as hobbies and all the passions that will grow with them. On the other hand, kitchen shelves and shelves are primarily used for 'extras', such as small appliances, which in a kitchen inevitably add up over time to support daily food preparation activities, but the shelves can also be fitted with crockery, containers for dry food, baskets for vegetables and fruit, containers for spices, condiments, cookbooks or, for the more 'digital' cooks, a shelf will be the perfect place to place a smartphone or tablet on which to follow a recipe step by step or on which to distract oneself with a music compilation or a film during a preparation and waiting between the oven and the stove. Shelves with integrated lighting are very frequent, even in the kitchen, but there are also folding wall shelves, which come to the aid of those who need an extra worktop, which can be pulled out or folded down if necessary.
If we think of more traditional kitchen shelves, especially for houses in classic style, rustic or with the presence of antiques, we can not forget the shelves traditionally made to store and show the dishes: the plates.
Bathroom shelves, in an environment generally lacking in free space on the ground, given the presence of sanitary facilities and the necessary space for movement, sometimes become, along with hooks, open wall units and hanging cabinets, essential to provide a bathroom with the necessary surfaces to store the many containers and bottles needed for personal cleaning, body care and make-up. You can therefore differentiate between shelves for small bathroom appliances, such as hair dryers and electric toothbrushes, preferably with an electrical outlet close by or integrated into it; shelves for storing brushes; shelves for make-up, almost as if to reinterpret the classic toilet-piece; shelves for personal fragrances and deodorants for the environment; waterproof shelves for showers or supporting bathtubs, washbasins and bidets, up to the indispensable shelves for towels, soap shelves and toothbrush holders, without missing even here the shelves for books, for when in the bathroom you want to spend a few minutes of relaxation.
As in the bathroom, even in a laundry or service room, the shelf is essential to add functions and consequent functionality to the essence of the spaces. For example, on the washing machine or on the washtub, a shelf allows the use of detergents and additives for washing without unnecessary movement of bottles by wet hands along the room.
In a corridor or in an entrance hall, bridge shelves between opposite walls or corner shelves between adjacent walls can be useful allies of false ceilings and connections of shelves at high altitudes, building interesting aesthetic solutions, even hidden. The wardrobe shelf, with its hooks under the shelf and in its infinite variations, is one of the most usual furnishing elements to be found in an entryway or hallway where the economy of space does not allow you to easily close in a closet jackets, bags and shoes for change, once back home, or where the existing wardrobes are not enough to accommodate new guests.
Creating shelves on an external wall or on the wall of a veranda can then be a viable alternative to create a greenhouse wall or to support the hobby of gardening with a support surface of the equipment. Likewise, in a warehouse, workshop or garage, tool and glove racks are the only way sometimes to take advantage of the walls that on the ground see the presence of boxes, work tables or the same parked vehicles. On the shelves, everywhere, really everything finds its place and above all it does it with style!