The National - News - Luxury - - CONTENTS -­

Mai­son As­souline at The Dubai Mall; Laura Laine’s pow­er­ful il­lus­tra­tions; Bvl­gari’s Fior­ever jew­ellery col­lec­tion; and The Gift of Kings by Loro Piana

Not only will Mai­son As­souline fill your li­brary with ex­quis­ite, in­sight­ful books, it will re­design the space for you, too. Step in­side the lux­ury brand’s new store at The Dubai Mall, and you’ll dis­cover just what its take on a mod­ern li­brary is.

The books are de­signed to be dis­played and mar­velled at, and each cover is a work of art in it­self. Be­tween all the books, you’ll find hand-picked an­tiques – in­trigu­ing ob­jects strate­gi­cally placed to spark your cu­rios­ity. Of course, ev­ery­thing in the store is for sale, but walk­ing into Mai­son As­souline feels like en­ter­ing a lit­er­ary sanc­tu­ary, and you can leave the bus­tle of the mall at the door.

At the back of the store, past the gold Swans Bar, you’ll find a pri­vate of­fice for those who want to make the ul­ti­mate pur­chase – a li­brary it­self. Pros­per and Mar­tine As­souline are the Parisian founders of the lux­ury pub­lish­ing pow­er­house, and they, to­gether with the As­souline team, will de­sign ev­ery­thing for you, from start to fin­ish.

“The spe­cial thing about the store is this room,” Pros­per says as we take a seat on a green vel­vet sofa. The space is filled with hand-drawn pic­tures of beau­ti­ful homes. He points to a draw­ing of a New York town­house, with brick walls and high arched win­dows, books fill­ing the shelves, which ex­tend from floor-to­ceil­ing. “In this room, you can come to us and say: ‘I would like As­souline to de­sign for us’, and we can cre­ate your com­plete li­brary. We bring the fur­ni­ture, the books, ev­ery­thing. It’s re­ally some­thing unique.”

As­souline-cu­rated li­braries are state­ments of lux­ury, the brand says, pulling to­gether the best ti­tles, art, fur­ni­ture and an­tiques to cre­ate an em­bassy of cul­ture. The brand will even take care of the smell, with a cus­tom-made aroma de­signed to trans­port you into a lit­er­ary abyss. “We cre­ate can­dles with scents that come from the books,” Pros­per says. “We an­a­lyse the DNA of a li­brary; we smell the pa­per, the wood, the leather. It’s a mix of ev­ery­thing and it is just beau­ti­ful,” he adds.

The Dubai store is nes­tled be­tween some of the big­gest fash­ion houses in the world, neigh­bour­ing Chanel, Ver­sace and Dior in the mall’s Fash­ion Av­enue. It is only the sec­ond ever con­cept store for the pub­lish­ers, who will be cu­rat­ing a col­lec­tion of ti­tles cen­tred around the Mid­dle East.

Founded in the early 1990s, Mai­son As­souline has suc­ceeded in shap­ing books into sta­tus sym­bols, pub­lish­ing ti­tles on fash­ion, travel and cul­ture. Its Ul­ti­mate col­lec­tion is hand-bound using tra­di­tional tech­niques, with colour plates hand-tipped on art-qual­ity pa­per. “You can find 1,000 books here,” Pros­per says. “But you can also find many ob­jects that you can­not find any­where in the world be­cause they are an­tiques, they are unique, and they are the per­fect as­set for your li­brary.”

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