This adorable little book shelf has to be one of the niftiest furniture designs of all time! And it’s got a fascinating history too…
Back in the 1930s, indie publishers Penguin stuck it to the establishment by producing high-quality paperback books that everyone could afford. Their principles struck a chord with Modernist furniture designers, Isokon, who decided that Penguin’s revolutionary books deserved to be stored in an equally revolutionary design. And so, in 1937, the Isokon Penguin Donkey was born.
Named the ‘Donkey’ because of its four legs and two ‘panniers’, its shelves were just the right size to fit a Penguin paperback. The central slot, meanwhile, made for a handy place to stash newspapers and magazines.
Sadly, the Second World War put an end to production – and to Isokon – after only a hundred or so of the original Donkeys had been made.
But 24 years later, Isokon was back, and with a brand new Donkey for the Space Age. Painted white, the new model was a lot more Minimalist in design and its flat top conveniently doubled up as a coffee table.
Both the 1930s and the 1960s models are back in production today, alongside an even newer version by Japanese designers Shin and Tomoko Azumi. You can buy all three models from Isokon Plus or Skandium.
But if you want to get your hands on one of the original hundred, you’ll need several thousand pounds burning a hole in your back pocket. That, or you can go and lust after the one in the V&A Museum.Read more →