High/Low: Modern Classic Isokon Bookcase

High/Low: Modern Classic Isokon Bookcase

We at Dwell are big fans of the vintage modern classic, the Penguin Donkey 2 book caddy produced by Isokon in the 1960s. Check out our latest discovery, a new shelf by Erik Heywood inspired by the original.

In one corner, British modernist classic, the Penguin Donkey 2 bookcase designed by Ernest Race for Isokon, a London-based firm run by Jack Pritchard. In the other, a spiffy new shelf called CSB-1, created by Erik Heywood as an exclusive to BOOK/SHOP in Oakland, California. 

CSB-1 bookcase by Erik Heywood for BOOK/SHOP ($450)

Penguin Donkey 2 book caddy by Ernest Race (1963) for Isokon (£570 at Skandium)

Hopefully, you know how we feel about knock-offs (we're not impressed), so it's crucial to point out that Heywood's new version ($450) merely takes cues from its famous predecessor. The upward orientation of the shelving units on Isokon's piece set it apart, and while the CSB-1 also sports two sides and a white/wood material palette, its legs are birch, not cherry, as in the Isokon version (£570). In other words, it's a solid alternative for multimedia storage should your budget not allow for an $1,000 unit. If you're seeking an investment piece representative of mid-century British design, however, you know where to go.

Read more about Isokon's history at Skandium—who holds the license for these pieces—and check out an earlier version of Penguin Donkey from 1939.


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