Founder Juan Naranjo draws an analogy between the significance of bookstores and that of galleries and museums. A tale of wood, windows, and the dynamism of light
Librería KBr in Barcelona,
The brainchild of Juan Naranjo, Librería KBr is a bookstore specializing in photography. Set up in October 2020, is located in the KBr Fundación Mapfre Barcelona Photo Center; in the South side of Barcelona, near the Parc del Port Olímpic. Naranjo draws an analogy between the significance of bookstores and that of galleries and museums. «Books and magazines are a way of coming into contact with theories of innovation. Creating a bookstore has been an expansion of my activity, and my artistic-conception. For instance, books, the printed medium, have been one of the spaces of avant-garde art and have been present in my projects».
Naranjo manifested a passion for photography and his education has revolved around this medium. He began to realize that he was «inclined towards research than taking photographs. The history of photography became one of my research topics. My professional activity has been divided into the organization of exhibitions and the art market». The design of Librería KBr bookstore was commissioned to Jorge Vidal. The architect who designed the interior of KBr Fundación Mapfre Barcelona Photo Center.
Jorge Vidal designing Librería KBr bookstore
«Vidal has created a contemporary-space committed to values of aesthetics and sustainability. This has resorted to the use of materials like wood and the use of large-windows. The interior and exterior spaces merge, creating a dynamism where light has a presence. Likewise Librería KBr bookshop is organized in the way we want to present the product to our customers. We have one section on architecture, fashion, a specialized zone on Latin American photography; archival photography, new-books and a special-edition section, which consists of the rare and expensive-books».
«Part of our patrons are people who come to see the exhibitions. Among whom are architects, artists and people related to visual communication. We attract people who have no occupation or involvement within the art world; but have a fascination and passion for art. These people tend to visit the museum on Sundays, in their free time». The selection of books at Librería KBr is «based on our way of understanding artistic production. We tend to have books that are not available in the artistic-market. This is to say that the books are selected for their content and aesthetic value and we engage people with a rare-collection of books. We perceive the book as not only a source of information and knowledge, but as artistic-objects».
Designers works selection at Librería KBr
In Librería KBr bookstore, «we present the works of designers and artists that we have selected. We have been showcasing a series of objects and books by Martí Guixé. Our work with these artists is a piece of art that can be seen and purchased in our store». When it comes to promoting awareness of current-issues associated with climate change and sustainability; Naranjo acknowledges that photography is used in an artistic-manner, but these issues are addressed scientifically.
He says that, «photography can be a source to show environmental-destruction and prevent people from perpetuating climate change. It is one of the vehicles that our society will need in order to focus; as it can convey the urgency to be sustainable. In the age of social media, photography is no longer a material object but a living one. Therefore we can have access to photography every single moment of the day. Photography has evolved and in relation to this we have developed a project with Martí Guixé. In addition we wanted to show our commitment to sustainability. Making candles out of beeswax. Selling them with a text emphasizing the tasks bees carry out for the survival of the environment».
Content in the store that has attracted visitors
The rewarding moment for Naranjo whilst setting up Librería KB; was the opportunity to show the store’s stock to its visitors and customers. For instance It has been the content in the store that has attracted visitors. It was of importance to retake the lost-connotation associated with going to bookstores; and experiencing the joy of books and the space they are located in.
«Bookshops are a way of going back to the past». Naranjo underlines that opening a bookstore specialized in photography in the «Amazon era has been a challenge. Compounded by the inconveniences that have arisen with the pandemic, it seems like an odyssey. Public and the media favored the opening of the bookstore. Therefore the truth is that. Despite the complications of travel and the capacity limitations of Covid-19; the opening of KBr has generated an interest and people have passed through the center and the bookstore».
Regarding photography’s future as an art form
Naranjo affirms that photography has been «a medium with a changing-identity. It is one of the artistic materials that has visibility in the artistic sphere, and continues to have social functions. Photography has social implications and visibility, which makes it an artistic-matter to contemporary-creators».
Future developments will involve progress and efforts to produce an online space on their website where «we can create an experience for those who are unable to go to the bookstore during the pandemic. We are focusing on themes and genres such as art and sound. We are looking to define and develop the last-stages of the creation of the online space, as a way to communicate and interact with those seeking an interest in art».
Av. del Litoral, nº 30, Barcelona, Spain