Talk to someone who has had to whittle down their possessions before downsizing into a smaller living space and they might tell you that the most difficult things to part with are the books: old, dust-collecting tomes there are infrequently — perhaps never — revisited but kept around strictly for sentimental and/or shelf-filling reasons. If forced to do the same, it’s best to save room on the bookshelf(ves) for the crème de la crème, the top 25 (or 50 or 100), the titles and authors that have had a profound and lasting impact on you — Jorge Luis Borges, Umberto Eco, Virginia Woolf, Christopher Pike, et al. But whatever you do, don’t forget to save room on that bookshelf for the footstool.

Yes, the footstool.

From Hong Kong, a cramped and overpriced city where there’s really no room for piles of extraneous paperbacks in most apartments, comes an ingenious new concept that’s essentially a coffee table book that unfolds into a single, versatile piece of furniture — the sturdy, stackable cylinder can be used as a stool, ottoman, nightstand, standing work desk and, yes, even a small coffee table.

When not in use, the compact multi-tasker — Bookniture, as Hong Kong-based designer Mike Mak has appropriately named it — folds back up into a slender volume that’s about the size of a standard art of photography book. (PSFK likens it to an oversized Moleskine). Just slide Bookniture next to your pared down selection of actual books for storage and when you need it again, you know right where your end table is: hiding out in between the Vincent Price cookbook and "Metal Cats."

bookniture folds up into a book that can be placed on the shelf

Bookniture folds out to become a coffee table, among other things

More on the inspiration behind Bookniture on Mak’s runaway success of a Kickstarter campaign:

As a designer based in one of the most densely populated city. Living and working space here is extremely limited. Everybody would love to (and have to) utilize their home and make good use of every inch of the space.

A few years ago attending a furniture fair, I was given a honeycomb board sample and was amazed by the strength and load capacity of this structure. This structure is widely used in the furniture industry composite boards for shelves and tables. I took this sample back as a decor on my bookcase...

I love having friends at my place, but have never had enough seats for everyone. My guests and I would always end up just sitting on the floor. I really wanted a kind of seat that doesn't take up any floor space when I don’t need it. Is that even possible? One day however, the empty space on my bookcase and the honeycomb sample caught my eyes. Then came the spark of a new idea: BOOKNITURE!

Despite the fact that you can sit on it, Bookniture is indeed bound much like an actual book in a “factory which specializes in traditional book assembly.” The “Super Honeycomb” used to create each piece is heavy-duty, USA-made kraft paper that can withstand 100 times its own weight of 1.6 kilograms (about 2-and-a-half pounds). When in folded-up book form, Bookniture measures 7-by-13 inches with a thickness of just over an inch-and-a-half. When expanded into a stool or what have you, it measures 14 inches in diameter and stands 13 inches tall.

it's also a side table for your reading nook

At the end of its useful lifespan, Bookniture can be hawked at Half Price Books fully recycled. And as evidenced in the below photos, Bookniture, like an actual book, travels well and is easy to bring along on picnics, park excursions and such.

bookniture folds up into a book

it makes a great mobile table for a picnic too

Much like Phillippe Malouin's Hanger Chairs, Bookniture is an elegant solution to the I need an extra table or chair for company but have nowhere to store in when not in use quandary.

And people are going gaga over it. With 33 days left to go in his Kickstarter campaign, Mak has already blown past his initial crowdfunding goal of $50,000.

Pre-orders start at $70 for the “Field Brown Edition” of Bookniture. For a few bucks more, you can get a handsome “Leather Black Edition.” Both editions come with round felted tops available in a handful of colors.

Although Bookniture does indeed sit pretty — and inconspicuously — on the bookshelf when not in use, I do wonder if in future versions Mak could knock the camouflaging aspect up a notch by releasing a limited-edition series that sport actual book titles instead of “Bookniture” on the spine. Because really, what better way to leave your houseguests speechless than by grabbing for an impressive — and impressively bulky — tome like “War and Peace” or "Infinite Jest" from the bookshelf and unfolding it into an end table? 

Via [GOOD], [PSFK]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.