Shakespeare and Company, Paris

"I created this bookstore like a man would write a novel, building each room like a chapter, and I like people to open the door the way they open a book, a book that leads into a magic world in their imaginations."— George Whitman

The Place
Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookshop in the heart of Paris, on the banks of the Seine, opposite Notre-Dame. Since opening in 1951, it’s been a meeting place for anglophone writers and readers, becoming a Left Bank literary institution.
credit: ©Shakespeare and Company Paris
It quickly became a center for expat literary life in Paris. Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Anaïs Nin, Richard Wright, William Styron, Julio Cortázar, Henry Miller, William Saroyan, Lawrence Durrell, James Jones, and James Baldwin were among early visitors to the shop.

From the first day the store opened, writers, artists, and intellectuals were invited to sleep among the shop’s shelves and piles of books, on small beds that doubled as benches during the day.  These guests are called Tumbleweeds after the rolling thistles that “drift in and out with the winds of chance,” as George described. A sense of community and commune was very important to him—he referred to his shop as a “socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.”

My bed in the Library, back in 2015
Three things are asked of each Tumbleweed: read a book a day, help at the shop for a few hours a day, and produce a one-page autobiography. 

Tumbleweeding in 2015

The Book
One fine morning, I received a call from Shakespeare and Co. They wanted me to create a tunnel book dedicated to the bookstore. A miniature, a dollhouse that could capture the atmosphere you feel when entering.

The first thing I did was to conduct an inspection, as renovation work had been done in the meantime.
Now the bookstore is larger, and the spaces interact with each other differently than I remembered.

What to include and what to leave out?


I divided the rooms into levels, like theatrical backdrops. Each level of the ground floor with the bookstore corresponds to one on the upper floor with the library and the piano room.

In some cases, it was necessary to distort the proportions to ensure that the perspectives were aligned.

Storefront sketch
Interiors studies
Interiors sketch
Layers sketch
Final sketches


Offset printing

The printing phase required extensive work on the colors and was divided into two parts: for the outer sleeve, the case, I decided to print in letterpress, using 4 bright colors to convey the idea that the bookstore represents a reference point for many. 
Letterpress sleeve
The internal pages, on the other hand, were printed in offset to allow for more freedom with color gradients.

Printing layers

Interiors, detail
Interiors, detail
Hello there
For many years now, visitors have been able to leave a message on the bulletin board on the first floor.

Rather than reproducing the board, I created a small white space in the book, where one can leave a message or a dedication.

If you want, you can leave your own words on this wall.

Daniele Catalli
Shakespeare and Company Tunnel Book

6 pages + sleeve
Dimensions: 162 X 220 X 20 mm

Printed and cut by Archivio Tipografico on Fedrigoni Paper
Letterpress + Offset
Torino 2024

Tunnel Books