On Toronto’s Queen Street West, there is a nine-year-old independent bookstore that has taken the art of window displays to a whole new level. Kalpna Patel has been working at Type Books as a bookseller for several years, but it’s her work as an artist making elaborate, colorful window displays that captures the attention of customers and passersby. Using mostly inexpensive, versatile materials such as paper and fabric, Patel cuts, folds, and sews for several days at a time to put together a new window every six weeks. “It’s a lot of cutting up paper and turning it into 3-D forms or sewing it,” she said. Each display usually takes a full eight-hour day to install in the bookstore’s window.
The current display, a three-dimensional paper-and-cardboard cactus garden with shades of lime, olive, and teal, was inspired by Toronto’s Allan Gardens Conservatory, an enormous greenhouse that Patel visited often during the city’s harsh winter. Nestled within that display are over a dozen books that match the window’s garden theme.
Although she collaborates with the store’s owner and community manager for ideas on upcoming window themes, Patel is given creative license to follow her own interests. Displays vary from annual events, such as Valentine’s Day or going back to school, to the specific ones, often featuring new books by local authors. Type’s fall 2014 display, dedicated to the 35th anniversary of the Canadian children’s magazine Chickadee, helped the store earn Magazines Canada’s Retailer of the Year distinction earlier this month.
Serah-Marie McMahon, Type’s community manager, said customers love to share photos of the displays on social media, and the books in the window always see a sales boost. “It’s something we put a lot of time and thought and man hours and dedication and love into, but it definitely pays off,” McMahon said.