The best modular shelving systems will encourage individual expression and personal style. An investment in both design and practicality, they are something that we choose to live with (design is arguably always a choice). Famed industrial designer Dieter Rams once remarked: “I am convinced that a well-thought-out design is decisive to the quality of a product. A poorly-designed product is not only uglier than a well-designed one but it is of less value and use. Worst of all it might be intrusive.” This quote, from a speech on ‘Design by Vitsœ’ presented by Rams in New York, 1976, remains pertinent today.
The String shelf system was designed in 1949 by the swedish architect and designer Nils Strinning. Easy to assemble and reposition, this well-formed system, with its ingenious design, is stable and functional. String® is available in several formats: the classic system, plex (launched in 1953), pocket (2005) and works (2014). The SH05 Arie shelf was designed by Arik Levy in 2008 for E15. The clever design enables a multitude of seamless combinations, made possible without any obvious visual repetition. Arie functions well as a bookcase, room divider, sideboard or storage unit.
The Componibili Storage Unit was designed in 1968 by Anna Castelli Ferrieri for Kartell. A design classic, it is on show at New York’s MoMA and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Functional, adaptable and smart, this hard-wearing and versatile unit has many uses around the home. Componibili units are stackable, available in round and square versions, varied sizes and several colors.
Handmade, elegant and solid, the Dixon Modular Storage Unit from Dare Studio is a beautiful example of well-made British design. Designed by Patrick Frey for Richard Lampert, the sleek, modest and rather demure Stak Trolley system is suited to home and office environments. German-Based Richard Lampert follows the motto: ‘as little as possible, as much as necessary’.
With infinite combinations and practical applications, the Montana System is a late 20th century classic. Peter J. Lassen established Danish company Montana Møbler A/S in 1982 and designed its extremely efficient shelving system. Comprised of 36 basic modules in four depths, the system includes shelves, doors, drawers, trays and lighting. With infinite combinations and practical applications, the Montana System is a late 20th century classic. Peter J. Lassen established Danish company Montana Møbler A/S in 1982 and designed its extremely efficient shelving system. Comprised of 36 basic modules in four depths, the system includes shelves, doors, drawers, trays and lighting.
The examples of modular shelving systems in this article are carefully chosen with a focus on their utility, aesthetic and universality. Individuals purchasing any of these shelving options are likely to have made a conscientious and considered decision, assessing the possibilities for placement and their necessity. This writer postulates that the shelving systems featured below are designed with the intelligent user in mind. Such people typically value good design and think about its quality, usefulness, longevity, clarity and detail.