Interview with Alex Assouline
ALEX ASSOULINE - BY THE BOOK
Since its inception, the Assouline brand has been synonymous with luxury, art and culture. For those unfamiliar with the book publisher, Assouline ‘has revolutionized the coffee table book’ (New York Observer), with its distinctive graphic identity and editorial savoir-faire. Arguably, Assouline’s most sought-after pieces include their ‘Impossible Collection’ which is an homage to the art of luxury bookmaking – hand-bound books using traditional techniques, with colour plates hand-tipped on art-quality paper. Treating a range of topics from design to art and fashion, the ‘Impossible Collection’ books are reflective of the Zeitgeist, both past and present - creating unique, collectible books: works of art in their own right.
Over its 25 year history, Assouline has published more than 1,500 titles – working with iconic brands including Chanel, Dior and Cartier. Now, as the recently appointed Vice President of his family-owned, global publishing powerhouse, Alex Assouline has been entrusted to continue the Assouline legacy and remain at the forefront of all aspects of design and culture. With the second generation of the family firmly ensconced at the helm, Alex has inherited his parents’ indefatigable work ethic and taste. Based in New York City, Alex is a man-about-town - boasting close friendships with iconic fashion figureheads Mr. Valentino and Azzedine Alaia (Assouline’s late godfather). Only in his mid 20s and with a penchant for style and sophistication, he has no plans to rest on his family’s laurels – with plans for global expansion and much more on the horizon. And while we know better than to judge a book by its cover, here is our interview with Alex Assouline – by the book.
Could you give us an introduction to the Assouline brand. How did your family create this iconic publishing house?
It all began in 1993 when my parents, Prosper and Martine Assouline, decided to combine their love for books with their innate curiosity. In just one year, they were able to launch Assouline’s first book titled, La Colombe D’Or. The idea behind the brand was to elevate the design of traditional books with a mix of emotion, intellect and their unique style—we strive to not only make beautiful books, but to create true works of art. Almost 25 years later, we have published over 1,500 books, and have no plans to slow down.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is conceiving and creating beautiful, meaningful objects of culture that are to be enjoyed by others, and ultimately, inspire them.
You have an impeccable dress sense, how would you describe your personal style?
You will almost always find me wearing a suit, but occasionally I’ll wear jeans with a black T-shirt. To me, it’s all about looking polished and put-together. I see it as a sign of respect for others.
Tell us about your passion for designing libraries?
I started designing and curating libraries to address the specific needs of hotels, residences, private offices, and other special spaces. I personally and carefully select books and objects that capture the essence of the neighborhood, the building, and the people who will enjoy it. I always want to create beautiful and sophisticated spaces that allow people to unplug and simply enjoy the moment.
What is your favourite travel destination?
When I have time, I love to visit the Turkish coast and Mexico City.
Who is your current up and coming Artist to follow?
Right now, I’m inspired by Victoria Villasana— her threading on street-style is incredible.
How does Assouline choose who to collaborate with?
We are very involved and carefully select each topic based on their interests. When we decide to produce a book, we truly do everything possible to ensure the concept reaches its full potential. We work exclusively with the best collaborators in the field to help us explore the subject. For us at Assouline, an in-depth familiarity with the subject is a must.
What exciting projects is Assouline currently working on?
We are currently working on growing Assouline into more of a lifestyle brand with libraries, books, objects, candles, digital media projects, and even experiences—essentially brining the pages of an Assouline book to real life. Trust me when I say that there are very exciting things coming soon…
You’ve been described as a “True New Yorker”, what is your go-to spot in NYC?
My favorite spot is the veranda in the back of the Bowery Hotel. It’s quiet during the day and has spectacular light. It’s the perfect place to go and read a book.
From the current Assouline range, what are your top picks?
Here is a small selection.