This Sistine Chapel Book Display Cabinet, made to commission, is a little more unusual than most. It has been specifically designed and made to display and store a truly extraordinary set of three books. These stunning ‘Sistine Chapel’ volumes have been published as a collector’s limited edition by Callaway, after a five-year collaboration with the Vatican Museums, and the Italian art publisher Scripta Maneant of Bologna, Italy. Each page is produced at 1:1 life-scale and shows every centimetre of the Sistine Chapel, containing the work of Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Perugino amongst others.
Each volume is large (61cm x 43cm), so our challenge was to design a cabinet that could elegantly display one book at a time, whilst also providing storage to protect them from dust and sunlight when not in use. The design of the cabinet needed to be robust, but simultaneously ‘light’ in aesthetics as not to overwhelm, with the true focus on the artwork.
The cabinet is made from European burr walnut, that has been book-matched to create the symmetrical pattern. This sits alongside American walnut used for the legs, stand and drawers. The cabinet houses three separate drawers that are flock lined and are ‘push to open’, so no need for any protruding handles.
One of the main aims was to make the cabinet as comfortable and ergonomic as possible for the user whilst viewing or turning the pages. The stand itself is very upright, enabling the pages to be displayed almost as a painting on the wall and visible from across the room: with the idea of displaying a new page every day.
The cabinet itself is wall mounted with two legs to the front, which, from the side, align through diagonally with the uprights of the stand: each beautifully curved as a mirror image. The cradle part of the book stand is made from kiln-formed glass with a bespoke pattern that is inspired by the windows of the Sistine Chapel. The stand has a built-in extension arm complete with magnet that is designed to hold the gatefold pages of the book when fully open. Restrained page holders are made from a combination of walnut and fibreglass, and the cabinet is completed with patinated brass detailing and fixings with a lacquered finish.