The Verve Magazine

Behind The Scenes of Assouline

The long, thick, card-stock-esque sheets are luxuriant, compact, and tightly fitted together into each binding.

by Madeleine Baughn |

Prosper and Martine Assouline, the power couple behind the publishing giant, Assouline books. Photo Courtesy of Assouline.

Rolling paints, melting hues, and monstrous photograph boards, followed by hand-creasing, folding, binding, The Ultimate Collection is a detailed objet d’art–made with true love. The monolith Techno Trans machines churn, and the Assouline production team busily hand binds and sows each book together. The long, thick, card-stock-esque sheets are luxuriant, compact, and tightly fitted together into each binding. Sheets of paper are hand-cut and white sealants lock everything in. Each book is swiftly executed with grace and precision like a symphony. Assouline's, “The Ultimate Collection”, short gives us a first-hand look at their careful process of cutting, gluing, and placing each photo onto each page. Husband and Wife, Prosper and Martine Assouline began their luxury publishing company in their basement in the early 90s, publishing La Colombe d’Or, a visual expose of their favorite hotel. Taking the world by storm, in 1995 they opened their first office on rue Danielle Casanova in Paris.

The Assouline Family at their home in Paris. Published in Vogue Brazil. Photograph by Emilia Brandão.

From the Four Seasons in NYC, Chez Dede in Rome, to Artefect in Cape Town South Africa, Assouline boutiques are on almost every continent. In 2014, the publishing giant opened it’s the first international flagship store, Maison Assouline London, “an oasis of culture” with cocktails and lunch at their Swans Bar. We grew up with the notion, that we should never judge a book by its cover. But the Assouline’s think differently. They have redefined how we see books: “Content is super-important. But 99 percent of the time, a book is closed in your apartment. So, if it’s ugly, it’s a problem. It has to be beautiful,” says Prosper in an interview with New York Magazine.

The Swans Bar at Maison Assouline Dubai. Photograph Courtesy of Assouline.

Rolling paints, melting hues. A close look at the creative process. Photograph Courtesy of Assouline, Assouline 20 Years montage.

Through some creative genius, Assouline can take a brand like Coca-Cola and make it expensive, vintage, and chic–emblematic of culture. On the other hand, they work with some of the most expensive brands in the world like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Rolex, Dior, Bentley, and Tiffany’s and make them accessible–through a book. Their books allow us to feel the lifestyle of the brands and places they represent.

Assouline publishes about 60 to 70 books per year on art, architecture, design, fashion, and more. With 1,700+ publications to date, they are masters at their craft. Known for “bringing luxury to the publishing industry”, every facet of their company is bespoke, sensual, and sumptuous, creating luxury connoisseurs among their readers. Through some creative genius, Assouline can take a brand like Coca-Cola and make it expensive, vintage, and chic–emblematic of culture. On the other hand, they work with some of the most expensive brands in the world like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Rolex, Dior, Bentley, and Tiffany’s and make them accessible–through a book. Their books allow us to feel the lifestyle of the brands and places they represent.

“SOMETIMES OUR CLIENTS DON'T HAVE THE BUDGET TO BUY A TRINITY RING OR A $2 MILLION CARTIER DIAMOND....BUT THEY HAVE TASTE TO BUY A BOOK.”

The Assouline Family. Prosper, Alex, Sébastien, Martine Assouline in their New York Apartment. Courtesy of The Cut, photographed by Jason Schmidt.

Through some creative genius, Assouline can take a brand like Coca-Cola and make it expensive, vintage, and chic–emblematic of culture. On the other hand, they work with some of the most expensive brands in the world like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Rolex, Dior, Bentley, and Tiffany’s and make them accessible–through a book. Their books allow us to feel the lifestyle of the brands and places they represent. “Sometimes our clients don’t have the budget to buy a Trinity ring or a $2 million Cartier diamond,” says Michel Aliaga, Cartier’s associate director of heritage information, in an interview with New York Magazine. “But they have the taste to buy a book.”

The Assouline's Home in Paris, filled with objets d'art, books, and sexy tones of red. Published in Vogue Brasil. Photograph by Emilia Brandão.

Maison Assouline. The Assouline Flagship store in Paris. Photograph by Felicia Tan.

ASSOULINE– A REFUGE FOR THOSE SEEKING STYLE, CULTURE, AND ART DE VIVRE”            

Matthew Schneier, features writer for NY Mag asks Prosper about how they went about business in the publishing industry. The Assouline's knew early on they would not do business with Borders or Barnes & Noble. Prosper explains: “I told him our business is not in the bookstores…we found our public at Bergdorf Goodman.”

They were not in the business of books, but the business of aesthetics–everything chic and expensive that is Bergdorf Goodman. Instead of quick printing print shops, the Assouline brand prides itself on craftsmanship and quality. From leathery accents to canvas bindings, the craft of bookbinding at Assouline is an art. With attention to detail, crispness, and intensity, their books are meant to be displayed, ogled at, touched, and read. It’s an understatement to say the world has fallen madly in love with these visual masterpieces.


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