Alex Assouline on designing private luxurious libraries: interview

  • Alex Assouline, 28, is a artistic library designer at his household’s luxurious publishing firm, Assouline. 
  • Founded in 1994, the publishing home has a specialty in creating extremely curated libraries for private residences and industrial companies.
  • It additionally releases thematic coffee-table books. Books in Assouline’s newest assortment vary in worth from $75 to $1,000.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Assouline explains how he creates a number of the most luxurious libraries on the planet and provides recommendation for these seeking to make their very own libraries at dwelling.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for extra tales.

The first step to making a quintessential Assouline library is, in fact, getting in contact with the Assouline publishing home.

Founded in 1994 by Martine and Prosper Assouline, the publishing home is thought for creating a number of the most luxurious — and costly — private libraries on the planet, along with publishing a number of the chicest coffee-table books. 

Assouline’s books, which vary from $75 to $1,000, are extremely researched and honor varied well-known folks, locations, and companies. The most up-to-date catalogue affords books on topics together with cigars, Rolex watches, feminism, and the Amalfi Coast. These books usually take years to supply and generally come certain in silk material and velvet. 

Assouline fall titles

Assouline fall 2020 releases.


“Now we’re launching a book on Marrakesh and Miami beach in the next few months,” Alex Assouline, the corporate’s 28-year-old inheritor and artistic library designer, instructed Business Insider. “Our book on Paris took us a year to do. It’s 300 pages, and it really brings you into the essence of Paris.”

Assouline talked to Business Insider about his artistic course of in constructing these high-end commissioned libraries and the way a lot it might value should you employed him.

“We’re selective in what we choose to incorporate in each curation and who we touch because we’re really hands on. So we cannot take every project,” Assouline mentioned. “Also, the minimum investment that we need to start a project is $25,000.”


An picture from the most recent Assouline e book, “Paris Chic.”

Oliver Pilcher / Assouline

Since he started working for his household’s firm full time, Assouline has helped design private and unique libraries within the Middle East and Mexico. In New York City, his current work will be seen in Hudson Yards, the 432 Park Ave. Condominiums, and the Tribeca Towers. At the identical time, he is helped produce the Assouline coffee-table books on St. Tropez, Versailles, Ibiza, and Mykonos.


An picture from “Paris Chic.”

Oliver Pilcher / Assouline

He was born in Paris, and his household moved to New York when he was 15 years outdated. He studied advertising and marketing, artwork historical past, and graphic design at Concordia University in Montreal and attended Columbia Business School for an govt program in digital advertising and marketing.

Alex Assouline seeks to make every of his libraries ‘considered one of a sort’

After a enterprise or an individual commissions a library, Assouline mentioned it takes him about two weeks to provide you with a design plan. First, he mentioned, he research the environment of the constructing the place the library will probably be housed. For companies, it is finding out the neighborhood; for folks, it is finding out the households. 

In each cases, the purpose is to grasp the individuals who will probably be interacting with the house probably the most. From there, he mentioned he may determine which books and objects would greatest seize the essence of who will probably be utilizing it. 


The completed product of a library design Alex Assouline labored on.


“The idea and concept is to create the most beautiful and sophisticated space that will enable people to unplug and enjoy the moment,” he mentioned. “It’s doing a deep dive to really understand what will inspire people, and it’s understanding the tonalities that people would enjoy, along with themes and subject matters.” 

He additionally spends time working with the inside designers who designed the institutions wherein he’s inserting a library. This is to make sure the libraries are harmonious with their inside environment and ambiance. 

“It’s again, understanding the tonality,” he mentioned.

An Assouline-designed library is most frequently full of Assouline-published books

Assouline mentioned he goals to fill at the very least 70% of Assouline-commissioned libraries with Assouline-published books. The most up-to-date releases from the Assouline publishing home embrace the 300-page “Paris Chic,” which pays homage to the City of Lights and took a yr to supply, and “Vital Voices: 100 Women Using Their Power to Empower,” which features a ahead by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman.

Assouline mentioned he additionally seeks to incorporate a wide range of genres and provides decorations to the library house, reminiscent of uncommon statues and sculptures — objects that assist take friends on “visual journeys” and add “conceptual depth” to the library. 

“It’s always interesting to have the eyes bounce back and forth,” he mentioned, including that he likes to work with loads of picket clamshells and blend in varied textures reminiscent of a velvet sofa.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg Assouline

An picture “Vital Voices: 100 Women Using Their Power to Empower,” which options Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


His signature contact is including a chunk that’s uncommon or first version and would in any other case be discovered solely at an public sale home or flea market. The purpose, for him, is to create private libraries which might be “one of a kind.”

“It’s also about the elements of engagement and maintaining class and sophistication,” he added. “We’ll pair that with a hint of playfulness, like a game, or an old wooden domino or something.”

‘A library tells rather a lot about you, and there is loads of individuality in them’

Assouline mentioned his requests for bodily libraries and hard-cover books have remained regular, even because the world continues to pivot to digital. His feedback aren’t shocking, nonetheless: As CNBC’s Lucy Handley reported final yr, bodily books nonetheless outsell e-books.

In 2018, print books within the US made up $22.6 billion in income, whereas e-books made $2.04 billion, based on the Association of American Publishers’ 2019 report. Even as digital continues to disrupt each different business, from tv to retail, Meryl Halls, the managing director of the Booksellers Association within the UK, instructed Handley bodily books nonetheless attraction to folks. 


The foyer of an Assouline retailer that includes the “Ultimate Books” assortment on the again cabinets.


“Publishers are producing incredibly gorgeous books, so the cover designs are often gorgeous, they’re beautiful objects,” she instructed the outlet. “The book lover loves to have a record of what they’ve read, and it’s about signaling to the rest of the world. It’s about decorating your home. It’s about collecting, I guess, because people are completists, aren’t they — they want to have that to indicate about themselves.”

And that is very true for coffee-table books, Assouline mentioned, including that books his household produces can’t essentially be in comparison with novels, which will be translated to a Kindle. 


The inside an Assouline e book.

Photo by Darren Gerrish/Getty Images)

“In terms of coffee-table books, it’s the whole experience of seeing your thematic interest,” he mentioned. “We spend so much time finding the right images and finding the right resolutions to actually print them on paper, and provide experiences to appeal to your emotions and intellect through the text. So it’s totally different.”

Advice for these seeking to create private libraries at dwelling

Assouline has some recommendation that broadly applies to library creation.

His first piece of recommendation: Be aware of how you employ your house. It’s probably not concerning the books that you simply purchase, he mentioned, however relatively the way you showcase every title.

“Take into account an excess of books and let each title breathe. A large quantity of books may take away from how special each book is,” he mentioned. “It’s a science of visuals.” 

It additionally does not damage to include small objects that showcase your character, he added, and there must be colour however not an excessive amount of. Everything ought to maintain aesthetic worth and be positioned with intention, he mentioned. 

“A library tells a lot about you, and there’s a lot of individuality in them,” he mentioned. “It’s really something you make for yourself.”

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