Assouline, the first luxury publisher, has opened a limited time pop-up at Bal Harbour Shops. Elevating books beyond words and pictures to exquisite objets d’art, the vibrantly colored boutique welcomes its legions of fans to immerse themselves in the Assouline universe, located on Level One. We sat down with founder Prosper Assouline to talk about the brand’s latest venture, newest titles and the nuances of working in a family-run business.
Tell us about the beginning of your book publishing journey.
Our creation of Assouline was led by the desire to propose a new style in publishing. This concept was ambitious—we wanted to elevate the style and design of books and push the boundaries of the very classical interpretation of culture at that time. Bookstores in the early 90s were filled with volumes that were a bit too conventional for us book lovers. Martine and I decided to combine our different yet complementary skills with the same taste and values. In doing so, we develop books in the same sense movies are created by our creative storytelling through images, meaningful themes and lasting impacts we have on our readers. We began by creating books categorized per collections—the first book being La Colombe D’or, in 1994, and it is still one of our most coveted titles. Just as we were then, we continue to be inspired by life and its beautiful surroundings, today.
What was the inspiration for the new Bal Harbour Shops pop-up?
Designed as a salon for the Ultimate Collection, this new boutique stands out from the classic Assouline boutiques. It is inspired by Miami’s lively and colorful appeal; this brand-new space embodies a radiant and vibrant spirit.
Reflecting on the past 25 years, what do you believe are some of the most unique characteristics of the Assouline brand, and what have you learned along the way?
For Assouline, culture is an essential element of true and unparalleled style—this sets us apart from others. For our titles to truly capture the essence of culture, we recognize the need to create an environment for it. Just like light, color, fragrance, and music harmonize in an effort to create the perfect ambience, we strive to do the same when creating our books with thoughtful design, text and eye-catching imagery. Because of this process, our books are able to awaken a person’s emotions connected to special moments, and more importantly, they are able to feel something when turning the pages of our books.
As a company, we are so proud of our progression and growth. We’ve learned to build on every one of our channels in which we see potential…whether it be via digital, editorial, production or future partnerships, it’s truly rewarding to see how as a team, we’ll be able to drive into new realms and continue to innovate globally.
Of all the fashion brands you’ve partnered with, is there one that stands out?
As part of the Gucci Places initiative in designing pieces that would encourage people to explore locations around the world, the brand collaborated with us on designing selection of products, based on those in Gucci’s Courrier collection, exclusively sold at Maison Assouline.
Another brand partnership that stands out is with Goyard, since our very first collaborative efforts with our initial trunk design over ten years ago.
How do you strike the balance between fashion, luxury and literature?
For us, it’s the same story.
Any new favorite books that are a must for our Bal Harbour shoppers?
I’m so excited by our new Ultimate title, The Impossible Collection of Whiskey: The 100 Most Exceptional and Collectible Bottles, as it is uniquely presented in a wrought-iron trimmed wood box modeled after an authentic whiskey barrel. It’s truly a collector’s dream.
Describe what it’s like to have a family-run business? Any bits of advice from personal experience?
Fortunately, we work very well together because we each have our own area of specialization within the company. When we fuse all of our components together, it makes for a perfect composition in terms of creating. A great piece of advice from our experience, is to ensure you maintain a business and home life balance; for instance, by making an effort not to talk about work during lunch, dinner, or any other outside activities.
Why do you believe it is so important to continue the legacy of print in a “digital world”?
Although the digital world continues to evolve, we would never create a digital book, but we understand other publishers that do.
Is there a book that is emblematic of Assouline?
La Colombe d’Or because it is the first book we ever created, as well as French Riviera In The 1920’s which we have recently republished.
What is the driving force behind your desire for publishing a new book?
We are constantly inspired by the opportunities of life. Whether it be travels, exhibits, books, articles, people or countries, we find something that stimulates us to create new books. We’re also often approached by outside projects and ideas that are also very much appealing to us, and in which case we move forward with exploring and creating.
What are some of your favorite memories from visiting Bal Harbour Shops?
I’ve always dreamt of having a home in Bal Harbour. It is a vibrant place, full of life, energy, cocktails and great shopping—which is such a major part of the experience when visiting. I absolutely love the curation of brands that are available at the Shops.