Librería Casa Bosques very well may be a reader’s dream come to true. It’s here in Mexico City that an outstanding selection of national and international books and magazines from the independent scene are carefully curated and for sale under one roof. Publications, printed art, architecture, photography, critical theory and art, fashion, and design – all obtained from independent publishers and alternative distribution channels by way of artist book fairs, trips abroad, or directly from their authors. Casa Bosques also acts as a platform, actively supporting and promoting projects and collaborations between creators of the local and international scenes: editors, artists, and photographers among others, who make everything from editorial projects to talks to performances and other endeavors. In other words, Casa Bosques is the scene. Below, we talk to creative director Rafael Prieto to learn more.
Why did you pick this city/neighborhood/storefront?
It was seven years ago, and we were looking for a new home in Mexico City for our studio Savvy. We were walking to colonia Roma, and at the very end I saw this beautiful Franco-Mexican house and fell for it. I made my way in and, of course, the space was too big for the studio and its things, so I decided to give a proper space to chocolates and the big passion I’ve always had for art books.
Where did you get the name for the store?
Casa Bosques translates as “House of the Wood.” I’ve always been very comfortable being in the woods, it gives me a sense of peace I can’t explain and that’s what I wanted people to feel in our shop – at home.
Has it changed much since it opened? How?
It has, we have been moving things around in the space to create different ways of interactions with the bookshop and the way the visitor can go around it. At the beginning it was a big living room with many places to sit and lay back, eventually we needed to have more space for publications so we took part of that seating area for a big table.
Then the classic aesthetics, we are a design studio and sometimes you get bored by looking at something over and over, so we changed the shelves on the wall among other pieces of furniture. The feeling is the same, it just looks different.
What’s one of the challenges you have with the business?
We don’t have many, it’s a pretty noble project, one would be to mainly stay truth to our selves , keep searching and selecting interesting publications, and giving a chance for a small independent projects to be share with bigger ones, and at the same time be able to succeed as business. It’s complicated when you bring small publications that people don’t know and you have to make a double effort for them to understand and feel it.
What other stores have you worked in before opening this one?
We worked on many stores, one about design and Mezcal in Berlín in the Mitte neighborhood, last year the Etudes Shop in The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, a pop up for Outdoor Voices, the sunglasses Retrosuperfuture shop in Los Angeles and Dubai.
What’s your favorite item in the store right now?
It’s hard for me to pick one specific item, every season I get excited about the selection of books. What’s new and how the shop will feel different just because of it, so let’s say I’m always into what’s new. Same thing every time I’m launching a new chocolate – I am all about it.
What is this season’s theme/inspiration/story?
We don’t go by season, we have always remained constantly changing through publishing pieces from all over the world. Things of course change through the art book fairs and what we can get our hands on, and the main idea is to keep things moving. We want you to feel the same, always getting to see new books and pieces.
Are you carrying any new products and/or undiscovered gems you’re particularly excited about?
Not particularly – a lot of special books and publications are around all year. I might sound boring, but I play fair to the publishing houses we work with because every one has its thing … we get special editions constantly and they are all good.
What’s been a consistent best seller?
Mujercitos, from Susana Vargas Cervantes and Body Found – poems and musings
What’s your process for selecting + curating the objects in your shop?
It’s a long ongoing process based on always checking for what’s out there, small projects, and artists publications. We have to balance in general the offers from Latin American to international, from small projects to bigger ones. We want people to be able to find something to feel related to, and we get to know more by traveling to the art book fairs to meet new people from artists and publishing.
Any special events/exhibits/pop ups/collaborations coming up?
We are re-taking and reshaping a project we put on pause two years ago, it’s an Art Book Fair called INDEX and it happens in Mexico City. It’s very exciting for the time being and seeing great reactions from both the participants and the city. More than 60 projects and publishers will join in and we can’t wait.
Do you have anything from the store in your own home?
Many books of course, from national to international. I, mainly because of my profession, get a lot of design and visual arts. My work is bases mainly in artists’ work and how they translate ideas into a piece. My latest acquisition is a Cy Twombly – I’m really into his drawings.
What’s been one of the most fulfilling aspects in opening your store?
After all these years, I would say the ability to create a community around something such as books, a passion project that I have have had for many years. Being able to evolve through time with friends, artists, and as much with people from Mexico City as other countries. The idea that something as cultural and specific as our book selection has been succeeding and evolving through the years makes me really happy to do what I do.
What’s one lesson you’ve learned since opening your store?
It never ends, so let’s enjoy the ride. You always have to keep an eye on things. We didn’t know at first how to run a bookshop business, especially the exercise of getting all of our books from everywhere, then solidly growing relationships with all of our suppliers, and from there how to keep a constant evolution for our costumers and artists. We want people to be surprised every time they come back – the lesson has been good because we are curious people already, so this part has been easier.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to follow a similar path to yours, what would it be?
Be clear on the message, product, and experience you want to create. Do things you personally like and enjoy, and from there you’ll be able to make something more special. Analyze business and see what works in order to be able to sustain and succeed. Choices and sacrifices have to be constantly made, it’s fine. Listen to all the parties involved and your instincts, something special will come out of it.