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If you’ve ever browsed a museum gift shop and flipped the pages of a gorgeous coffee table book only to get sticker shock when you check the price, Resource Library is the fix. The temporary pop-up library at Union Market has over 500 books and magazines covering a range of art and design topics. The spot features plenty of comfy seating and wifi, and guests are encouraged to camp out for as long as they want. A small selection of prints, ceramics, jewelry, and other wares from local artists are for sale. The books are not for sale or check-out, but you can settle in to browse.
Designer Alison Beshai recently founded her own creative agency, Form Function, which works on both residential and community projects. Resource Library is the first big project for the more community-focused Form Function Studio arm. She drew inspiration for the pop-up from hangouts at her own home, where friends would enjoy her personal collection of design books and discuss them together. “I wanted to create that experience for people who weren’t going to come to my living room,” she says.
Beshai hand-picked the bulk of the books from DC Public Library storage facilities, and local art and design luminaries also selected stacks of books. Employees of architecture firm Gensler designed the library space pro bono, and they picked some of the books, too. “If there’s a book about architecture, and ceramics, and landscape, you see that person’s interests come together as a story,” Beshai says. “It’s been cool to see how people interact with ones they can tie back to a person.”
A design library might seem like a niche interest only appealing to creative types, but Beshai believes that Resource Library has books for everyone. “Some of the books in here talk about cities, parks, wayfinding, posters, and those are types of design that anyone can relate to. I wanted the content to be something that makes us think about design in our everyday lives,” she explains.
During its run, Resource Library is hosting events that are sure to make people think about all the design around them. Thus far, collaging workshops with Washington Studio School have involved exploring nearby areas for inspiration. ASL classes are available on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and neighboring Gallaudet University has used the space to hold classes and lectures. Coming up, there will be screen printing workshops and talks covering topics from political branding to how design can be more accessible. Interested organizers are also invited to submit their own event ideas.
Resource Library will be operating at Union Market until November 18th, open 1–6pm Wed-Thurs, 11am-6 pm Fri-Sun.