Do you covet books?
Do ‘slip covers’ emit a siren’s call?
Do lavish titles lure you in?
Does a row of book spines induce mental Chinese whispers, always culminating in ‘take me home’?
Bals and Swans: in their slip covers above and revealed below.
If you have visited Assouline, the answer to any of the questions above is probably yes, the publishing house has elevated the picture book into a coveted luxury item, slip-covered with a stylish brand experience. Assouline is the 21st century tastemakers’ publisher of choice and an award winning cultural force.
Prosper Assouline combines technical brilliance (art director age 18) with passionate charm: ‘I am just upset to have to sleep 6 hours a night, there is so much to do’. He works in partnership with his supremely stylish wife Martine, the editorial eye, together they embody the brand which they have printed into existence.
They say: We began with an idea and a belief: the first, a notion that beauty, perfected, has meaning that is capable of transforming our lives, Second, that a book, artfully crafted and highly considered … can open our eyes and minds.
They put the uniquely French expression ‘savour vivre’ at the heart of their ethic, ‘knowing how to live…we put our resources into things that matter: knowledge, relationships, and experiences; into history, culture and travel. We value things that are rare and precious, not for their price, but because they enrich our lives. We are visual beings…our ethic is aesthetic.
She says: The more we live in this digital world, the more we need to have references to feel that you are still part of this world, with the book as an object, you have the past, the present, the memory and the creativity. People are still buying books; maybe they will just be more selective about what they buy.
Their store manager said: Of all the things in this world, don’t books deserve to be luxury items.
The impossible Collection: FASHION
L A Times: Other companies publish big, glossy, coffee-table books. But Assouline is not so much selling individual books as selling a cohesive statement.
Financial Times: Assouline produces some of the most exquisite books on the planet.
Time Out, NYC: What Cartier is to watches, Assouline is to books.
W Magagazine: Creating the glossiest coffee table books around has turned Assouline into a luxury brand.
Departures magazine: Assouline celebrates people who know how to enjoy the good life… ‘la dolce vita’ gleams in a maharaja’s diamond collection and resides in shimmering Venetian palazzi, but it can just as easily be found in a simple, sunny, lavender-filled hotel room in Provence.
dream into Assouline’s travel books
It’s nearly 20 years since the Assoulines’ published their fist book. Taking their annual break at the fabled Colombe d’Or: they thought why don’t we? He took the photos, she wrote the text, he laid it out, et voila, histoire.
Check your shelves, if you have an Assouline book or two, I bet they they are one of your favourite books. Prosper Assouline’s sublime art direction and Martine’s chic production will have ensured that.
The Assoulines passionately believe in culture, that books as a cultural record, deserve to be luxury items. Their New York office is emblazoned with the maxim:
CULTURE IS NOT A LUXURY BUT A NECESSITY
The Assouline’s cultural record has fashion and hi-society at its core: Fashion is their background, their stylish life. They have also studied the business of fashion, their brand connects you with a fashionable elite and the finer things in life through a series of collections: from ‘Memoires’ ($25) and ‘Lifetime’ ($45) up to Ultimate’ ($700) and possibly THE ultimate: a bespoke library designed by Prosper starting at $125,000.
Their stores are ‘culture lounges’ inspired by libraries a colour palette of rich red, cream and dark walnut with an Art Deco feel. Each store has signature elements which affirm their values, a ‘Mondrian’ style wall of books displays the ‘books as art’ and a Didot ‘Alphabet carpet’ laid underfoot. Layered into this scene are vintage books, one-off curio items and Assouline ‘lifestyle products’: book ends, scented candles and leather totes.
It seems fitting, as I am sure Prosper intended, that my relationship became more intense (read covetous) when staying at Claridges. Assouline now have a permanent shop-in-shop there (right next to the ballroom). The catalogue is left beside your bed, I read it from cover to cover, imagine my horror when Assouline was shut, aaagghhh, I peered and peered through the glass window into chic 1970’s YSL Paris. I was decor-hooked.
Forgive my mid-winter photo, have you ever seen a bookshop like it? I just wanted to be on THAT sofa, book in hand. Below is an interior photo Assouline kindly sent through, because I came home obsessed with questions buzzing round my mind …
Q: What inspired the design? What was your brief? I conceived of this boutique as a sort of private library, where the visitor would want to own each and every object.
Q: Who decorated the shop? Me. (Prosper) I have a vision and I am very lucky as our boutique staff always makes it happen with style.
Q: Is it an evolving space with new accessories arriving? In the months to come the Assouline boutiques will become more of a lifestyle destination where objets will become as present as books.
Q: Is the Assouline boutique within Claridge’s permanent or pop up? …Our Claridge’s store is a permanent location.
So from now on: first stop Assouline when I arrive in London. And for here and now – I have reading to do, don’t you?
Assouline’s website, the Assouline concession at the Plaza NYC and outside their store in London (pressed up against the glass, falling in).
See various library schemes on Pinterest,