Alex Assouline on designing private luxurious libraries: interview

  • Alex Assouline, 28, is a inventive 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 business companies.
  • They’re additionally a publishing home, releasing thematic espresso books. Books in Assouline’s newest assortment vary in worth from $75 to $1,000.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Alex explains how he creates a few of the most luxurious libraries on this 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, after all, getting in contact with the Assouline publishing home.

Founded in 1994 by Martine and Prosper Assouline, their eponymous publishing home is thought for creating a few of the most luxurious — and costly — private libraries on this planet, along with publishing a few of the chicest espresso desk books. 

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

Assouline fall titles

Assouline Fall 2020 title 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.”

Alex talked to Business Insider about his inventive course of in constructing these high-end, commissioned libraries, and the way a lot it will value in case 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,” he instructed Business Insider. “Also, the minimum investment that we need to start a project is 25,000.” 


A nonetheless from the most recent Assouline guide, “Paris Chic.”

Oliver Pilcher / Assouline

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


A nonetheless from the most recent Assouline guide, “Paris Chic.”

Oliver Pilcher / Assouline

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

Alex seeks to make every certainly one of his libraries “one of a kind” in order that no two are ever the identical

After a enterprise or a private particular person commissions an Assouline library, Alex 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 shall be housed. For companies, it is learning the neighborhood; for people, it is learning the households. 

In each situations, the objective is to know the people who shall be interacting with the area probably the most. From there, he mentioned he can determine which books and objects will finest seize the essence of who shall be utilizing it. 


The completed product of a library design Alex 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 preliminary inside designers that designed the institutions by which he’s putting a library. This is to make sure that the Assouline libraries are harmonious with its inside environment and ambiance. 

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

An Assouline-designed library is most frequently crammed with Assouline-published books 

Alex mentioned he goals to fill a minimum of 70% of Assouline commissioned libraries with Assouline-published books. The most up-to-date releases from the Assouline publishing home embody the 300-page “Paris Chic” guide that pays homage to the City of Lights and took a 12 months to supply, and “Vital Voices: 100 Women Using Their Power to Empower,” which features a ahead by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman. 

Alex mentioned he additionally seeks to incorporate quite a lot of guide genres, and provides decorations to the library area, equivalent to 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 a lot of wood clamshells and blend in different varied textures equivalent to, maybe, a velvet sofa. 

Ruth Bader Ginsberg Assouline

A nonetheless from a current Assouline guide, “Vital Voices: 100 Women Using Their Power to Empower” that includes Ruth Bader Ginsberg.


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

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

“A library tells a lot about you, and there’s a lot of individuality in them”

Alex mentioned his requests for bodily libraries and hard-covered books have remained regular, even because the world continues to pivot to digital. His feedback aren’t stunning, nonetheless, as CNBC’s Lucy Handley reported final 12 months, bodily books nonetheless very a lot outsell ebooks.

In 2018, print books within the US made up $22.6 billion in income, whereas e-books solely made $2.04 billion, in keeping with the Association of American Publishers’ 2019 report. Even as digital continues to disrupt each different business, from tv to retail, Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers’ Association within the UK, instructed Handley that bodily books nonetheless very a lot enchantment 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 espresso books, Alex mentioned, earlier than including that books his household produces can not essentially be in comparison with novels that may be translated to a Kindle Reader. 


The inside an Assouline guide.

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 their very own private libraries at dwelling

Alex has some recommendation that broadly applies about library creation.

His first piece of recommendation: be aware of how you utilize your area. It’s not likely concerning the books that you simply purchase, he mentioned, however relatively the way you exhibit every respective title. 

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

He additionally provides that it would not harm to include small objects that exhibit your persona, and there ought to be colour, however maybe not an excessive amount of; every thing ought to, he confused, maintain aesthetic worth and be positioned with intention. 

“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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