High/Low: Modern Classic Isokon Bookcase
By Kelsey Keith / Published by Dwell
Recommended by

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.

Kelsey Keith


Kelsey Keith has written about design, art, and architecture for a variety of print and online publications.

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