Evoking the fiery passions of literature’s greatest love stories, the candlelight dances on the gilt-titled book spines, illuminating the intimate conversation of seated lovers. The beating heart of the Six Senses Maxwell, newly opened in Singapore, the Cook and Tras Social Library is where love, good food and literature come together.

The Cook and Tras Social Library is the largest library ever curated by Ultimate Library, featuring over 4,000 books. Located in the heart of historic Singapore’s Chinatown, a row of heritage shopfronts has been transformed into a luxury destination, featuring interiors designed by Jacques Garcia. The main restaurant and bar of Six Senses Maxwell occupies the majority of the ground floor and in Jacques Garcia’s signature, opulent style, the room is lined with mahogany bookshelves, a mirrored ceiling and theatrical, tasselled upholstery.

Six Senses recognized the opportunity offered by this extensive joinery and envisioned a “social library”, where guests and the community can gather for delicious food and drinks along with intellectual nourishment from the finest world literature. Ultimate Library was brought on board to craft a fully curated, browsing library featuring subjects that told the story of Singapore, Six Senses and the hotel, all while complementing the old-world charm of the space.

Cook and Tras Library Singapore

Ultimate Library’s team of bibliophiles rose to the challenge, which included sourcing over 75 metres of books. Following a consultation with Six Senses, to ascertain the subjects which best reflect the brand ideals, guests at Six Senses Maxwell will find sections devoted to Singapore literature and history, wellness, fiction, history, biography, performing arts, sports, popular science, psychology, business and economics, natural history, botany, travel writing, art, architecture and food and drink.

Ultimate Library always strive to create libraries that look as if they have grown organically over time, the way our personal libraries are formed by changing tastes, and a discerning eye.  In order to achieve this look and feel, the team personally visited the best second-hand book dealers in London to hand pick quality used books that met exacting standards and categories. Antique books, some well over 200 years old, were incorporated into the relevant sections, to provide visual interest and variety as well as a feeling of a timeless library.

Alongside the shelves designed for the reading library, there were shallow shelves interspersed around the room. These faux shelves were design solutions to tricky architectural problems such as HVAC systems behind pillars. These “shelves”, some only 5mm deep, needed to blend seamlessly with the real bookshelves and continue the library look. Ultimate Library teamed up with Original Book Works to have custom book panels manufactured. Each panel is made of resin casts of real, antiquarian, leatherbound books. Each spine is then painstakingly hand painted, hand gilt and installed to fit the space exactly. The result is incredible verisimilitude, to the point where guests frequently reach out for a book only to realize the illusion!

Ultimate Library’s installation team of one, was on site in Singapore for five days to install the faux book panels, unpack, categorize and shelve over 4,000 books and arrange each shelf in a subtle tonal colour block. Over the course of the week, the site was transformed, as the books leant weight, warmth and playfulness to the space.

The Cook and Tras Social Library at the Six Senses Maxwell, has attracted those looking for heritage Straits cuisine in an intimate atmosphere, surrounded by the best books in the world. The perfect place to spend a romantic evening with your true love, whether that be your partner, or your favourite book!