PaperCity Magazine

September 2016 - Houston

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Page 136 of 197

WILL ASSOULINE EVER BE DIGITAL? NO, NO, WE WILL ALWAYS BE PAPER. FOR ME, THE PAPER IS SO IMPORTANT. I LOVE TO TOUCH IT, I LOVE TO PRINT ON IT, I LOVE THE SMELL OF IT. WHEN A BOOK ARRIVES ON MY DESK, A NEW BOOK WE'VE JUST PRINTED, THE FIRST THING I DO IS SMELL THE BOOK BEFORE I OPEN IT. her. It is very esoteric, and mostly text, but very interesting. A dream book. My dream is to one day do a book about chocolate, but people have to taste the chocolate, not just look at pictures of chocolate. I haven't figured out how to do it yet. I dream to create something completely crazy new. I'm working on ideas to create a whole new kind of paper, using new technologies. Will Assouline ever be digital? No, no, we will always be paper. For me, the paper is so important. I love to touch it, I love to print on it, I love the smell of it. When a book arrives on my desk, a new book we've just printed, the first thing I do is smell the book before I open it. Smells are your Proust madeleine? One of our very first books 20 years ago was about a Baroque Italian church, Les Anges de Croatie. I wanted to have the smell of the church in the book, so we found a company in Japan to create a paper with this smell: the incense, the candles, the wood of the pews. I'd forgotten all about this book, but I found a copy two weeks ago when we moved our offices. I opened it, and, I swear, 20 years afterwards, you continue to smell the church in this book. In a library, you smell the leather, the wood from the bookcases and the paper. I had wanted to capture these smells for a long time. Our Library candles smell like the library. One smells of paper, one smells of wood, one smells of leather. It is the DNA of the library. To capture the true scents, we had to smell everything ourselves — the leather from the chairs, the wood from the bookcases, and the paper in the books. Martine and I smelled more than 1,000 books for two months. At the end, we chose only three books. Then we hired a top "nose," a guy who analyzes scent for perfumes, and we created a proprietary scent for the candles. I'm very proud of the line — we used the best ingredients you can find, and it's a very good price, very chic with new packaging and glass, coming out this month. Your obsession with libraries … Libraries are so peaceful. I like the look, the culture of libraries. I really love the New York Public Library. For years I went every Friday morning for three hours to be alone with paper and books. I had to stop doing that when we got so busy, but now our offices are not so far away, so maybe that will change. I am headed to Italy in a couple of weeks, and I always go to libraries there. You have hundreds of small libraries, many from the 18th century, all specializing in something specific like astronomy or architecture. There are too many to list. Your personal library. We have libraries everywhere — at our offices here and at our home in New York and our house and offices in Paris. The problem is, we're never sure where a book is when we look for it. But Martine and I have a huge collection, thousands and thousands. In our new offices we don't know where to put them; there are so many still in boxes. Books that you collect. I'm a huge collector of books and manuscripts from the 18th and 19th centuries. I just received a beautiful 19th-century manuscript bound in velvet with a crest in brass. I love books as objects. Any particular genre or topic? In my personal library, all of my vintage books are about style, but it's not one topic. It could be about cooking, travel, fashion, architecture. I have so many books on architecture, particularly 18th- and 19th- century architecture. These people were so crazy who made the books. There was no photography, so they drew everything by hand. I bought a book two years ago at an auction, on the architecture of Mussolini. It's really an object — it's just huge, with a cover made from silver. I love it because it's crazy. I love crazy people, because I am like them. Have your vintage books inspired an Assouline title? Yes, we have one that just came out in our Ultimate Editions limited collection called Venice Synagogues, to celebrate 500 years of the Jewish Venice ghetto. It was inspired by my books from the 18th century. The hand-bound limited edition is $4,500, in a velvet clamshell and hand embroidered. You've never seen anything like it. Do you personally create Assouline's custom libraries? I have done 50 by myself. To me, it's our most important service. It's not easy to customize a library, to buy 500 books, which all have something to say together. I love that. Recently we did a complete Assouline library for a new development in Tribeca — 1,000 square feet and 1,000 books. A few years ago for Neiman Marcus [Christmas Book], we offered a complete library for $120,000. It sold on the first day. [For the client], we did a library with huge Spanish antiques, two big portraits, and all our books. My favorite library is always the one I'm working on now. Your dream library. I never did one on a boat. This is our next target. Maison Assouline, London Bindery at Maison Assouline 133

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