An interesting idea captured in this shelving design is the aesthetic of a system. The initial concept was to build a set of shelves as efficiently as possible and find the aesthetic in the efficiency of the design.
After some study, the designer noticed the majority of the structure in a typical set of shelves was used to resist the lateral forces put on it by books (forces pushing and pulling the shelves from one side to the other, causing twists and tilts); the structure necessary to hold up the vertical load of the books up was minimal.
By connecting to the wall, the lateral forces could all be resisted and only the outer edge of the shelf would need to be supported. The ends of the cables that support the outer edge of the shelves are connected to the ceiling framing and the whole system becomes structurally very clear and fairly easy to build.
The initial design was built with MDF shelving and 3/16” metal cable- minimal cost ($35) and the MDF lent it a wonderful simplicity. The shelves in the photo are constructed with 5/4 maple.