To commemorate the fourth printing of “Art House”, co-author Gary Hutton sat down to share the book’s recent history. It is not often a book captures the design world’s imagination like “Art House” has done. The authors didn’t hire a publicist but, to date, the book has appeared in media 52 times….and counting. Read the backstory, from conception to now.
Gary’s “Art House” Experience
In 2014 the great photographer, Matthew Millman, approached me to help with a book about the important collection of passionate patron, Chara Schreyer. Matthew suggested the title: Art House.
Chara was my first private client, and later, friend of the 40 years I have worked for her. (Shout out to my 40th anniversary in the business!). For many of those years she was my first call every morning. Matthew is a frequent collaborator and I wanted to facilitate what I felt was worthy effort.
Chara was willing to listen. So, the small team of Matthew, writer/editor Alissa Carrol and I got into details. To publish a design book the right agent matters. A lot. Top agents know what the public wants to read and they know about the competition of who is doing what. Working with the right agent is also a quality signal to publishers of better books.
Enter Jill Cohen, who led the Conde Nast book division for 20 years. Jill packaged many of the most interesting, best-selling design books of the last decade. Titles include Orlando Diaz-Azcuy, Jay Jeffers, Madeline Stuart and Stephen Sills….to name just a few. She met the team and listened to our pitch.
Art history books are not best sellers, in general. Jill took some time for research and to think through the project. A month later, Jill advised that she saw a book about the collection alone as a hard sell, because it would have to be an academic look at a great collection. Her observations were invaluable…..like there being lots of books out there about rich people’s fancy art that don’t sell many copies. However, Jill saw great potential in two unexplored areas; the story of my 40-year creative partnership with Chara on each of her 5 houses and how to design around fine art. Jill’s idea won the day. Over the next two years, the team created “Art House”.
Jill Cohen’s Advice on How to Create and Sell a Design Book
We documented Chara’s houses with good photography, previously. It is typical for designers to photograph projects for promotional use and pitching for publication. All of Chara’s houses appeared in magazines previously. However, Jill advised that book photography is very different than the requirements for architecture and design books. This makes sense in that magazines only have a few pages to tell a design story. This means the page allotment only has space for photos of the major rooms. Book photography, especially for a book about an art collection with over 600 artworks, (where major artworks may not be located in the major rooms), needs details. Consequently, Matthew rephotographed Chara’s houses and collections off and on for almost six months.
Gateways. Ramps. Hurdles. Other Artists.
A book that depicts fine art images has additional hurdles. Artists sell the physical artwork, but almost always keep the copyright. This means whenever an image of the artwork appears in media, the artist or the artist’s estate needs to grant permission for publication.
For example, we contacted Frank Stella about the book’s incredible cover image, where one of his great early 60s geometrics hangs pride of place. Originally, the book’s title was typeset in a way that obscured a small part of Stella’s painting. The artist wouldn’t grant permission to use an image of his painting (even for an Assouline cover), unless the book was redesigned so type did not touch his work.
Fun-to-know: The grant of rights usually comes with a $300 payment. Most of the artists and estates offered to forego the payment if we would send them a book. The artist Jeff Koons stood out for preferring cash.
Jill shared that there are two publication vectors. One way is that you do everything yourself including the book layout. This gives maximum creative control, but requires more in-house expertise. The other is that you trust the publisher’s creative department to generate the layout and cover, which the client’s creative team approves. We realized that we needed the book design expertise, which made Assouline the right fit overall. After we turned over the words and pictures to Assouline, we got to refine details of the book’s design layout and cover. Next came launch, signings and afterglow.
I don’t think I was prepared for the book’s reception and longevity. I also didn’t expect what the book would do for the perception of my work, which sparked conversations about designing interiors around collections. It also made other collectors (and their designers) regard what I know how to do.
One of the first promotional activities was a book signing at Assouline’s flagship in Paris. Oh La La. Definitely a career high point.
The book ended up serving several purposes. Important art has a life beyond that of one collector. By documenting an artwork’s ownership, display, dimensions of conservation and the collector’s personal stories about why she bought this or that….anchors both individual artworks and the collection overall in a first person record. Additionally, it documents the provenance, condition and conservation of these objects. The book might even have a positive effect on the collection’s value.
Below is a partial list of the international publications, mentions and applause. I remain grateful for the whole experience.
2016 Fall C magazine (USA) Art House.pdf/ 2016 or 17 Unknown location of Assouline store.pdf 2016.07.27 SFMOMA Board Release mentioning book.docx 2016.08 Art Travel (France) Art House.pdf/ 2016.08 Art Hou se Vogue (Mexico).docx 2016.08 Vogue (Mexico) Art House in Spanish from Assouline 2016.08.26 Art Travel (France)Art House.pdf/ 2016.08.26 Art Travel (France) Art House in French from Assouline 2016.09 Culturedmag.com (USA) Art House.pdf/ 2016.09 C magazine (California Style USA)Art House from Assouline.... 2016.09 C Magazine (California Style) Art House.pdf/ 2016.09 C magazine.pdf/ 2016.09 Culturedmag.com (USA)Art House from Assouline.pdf 2016.09 Luxe. interiors•Design (USA) Art House.pdf/ 2016.09 Luxe. interiors•Design (USA)Art House from Assouline.pdf 2016.09 Tabulous Design.docx 2016.09 Vogue (France) Art House from Assouline.pdf 2016.09 Vogue (France) Art House.pdf/ 2016.09.19 Citibook Houston (USA) Art House.pdf/ 2016.09.19 Citybook Houston (USA) Art House from Assouline.pdf 2016.09.28 The Ark Art House.pdf/ 2016.09.29 Emails to all about Art House in C Magazine.docx 2016.10.03 Cultured Magazine Article Art House.docx 2016.10.03 WWD.com (USA) Art House.pdf/ 2016.10.03 WWD.com (USA)Art House from Assouline.pdf 2016.10.04 WWD-Womens Wear Daily on Art House.docx 2016.10.06lnterviewmagazine.com (USA)Art House from Assouline.... 2016.10.06 lnterviewmagazine.com (USA)Art House.pdf/ 2016.10.14 Figaro (France) Art House.pdf/ 2016.10.14 Madame Figaro (France)Art House from Assouline.pdf 2016.10.14 Madame Figaro (France)Art House.pdf/ 2016.10.28 SFChronicle -SF Fall Art & Antiques.pdf 2016.10.2 8 SF Fall Art & Antiques Show Catalogue Art Boo k Discussion... 2016.11 Assouline's eblast all about Art & Design.docx 2016.11Bask Magazine (USA)Art House from Assouline.pdf 2016.11 Bask Magazine (USA)Art House.pdf/ 2016.11 Dwell.docx 2016.11 ELLIMAN Art Issue Winter 2016ArtHouse.pdf 2016.11.10 SFC&G-SF Cottages & Gardens.pdf 2016.11.11 Architectural Digest.com (USA) Art House from Assouline.... 2016.11.11 Architectural Digest.com (USA) Art House.pdf/ 20 16.11.22 #1 New Release in Residential Architecture.docx 2016.12 Boston Magazine Art House.docx 2016.12 Boston Magazinel1 Book sand Exhibits for Your Winter 2017... 2016.12 Genlux Art House.docx 2016.12 Home Decor Ideas-Best Home Decor Ideas With ArtWork.docx 2016.12 Vogue Paris Gift guide - 30 Coffee table books 15 pages.docx 2016.12 Vogue Paris Gift guide - 30 Coffee table books for Christmas.... 2016.12 Wallpaper.com Art House.docx 2016.12.06 Apartment 34-Gift Guide for the Art Lover-Art House.docx 2017 Jewish Journal LA &.docx 2017.01 SFMOMA BOTannouncing Art House Party.docx 2017.01 Spaces Winter Spring 2017.docx 2017.01.14 LA Art Show - The Modern Eye- Cultivating a 21st-Century... 2017.01.21 Assouline Paris Gary & Alisa.docx 2017.01.21 Assouline Paris Gary & Alisa-Editor At Large.docx 2017.02 Sales Pitchby Nat.docx 2017.02 Vogue Living Art House.docx 2017.02.13 Editor at Large Art House.docx 2017.03 Citrine Home Art House.docx 2017.03 Design LA supplement to LA Times.docx 20 17.03 Jeanne Store Paris Art House.docx 2017.03 Vogue Living Australia.pdf 2017.05.10 Christopher Farr Panel in LA with Chara GaryAlisa.docx 2017.06 London Presentation Maison Assouline-see travel.pdf 2017.09.25 Front & Center at MACO, Mexico City .docx 2017.10 AD Book on table of Scandal star Katie Lowes.docx 20 17.10 Le Bon Marche window in Paris.docx 2017.10 PDC for Assouline by Nat.pdf 2017.10.28 People Magazine on Katie Lowes-Art House on table.pdf 2017.11 Assouline Fall Catalogue.docx 2018.02 REALSIMPLE Magazine.pdf 2018.03 REALSIMPLE Magazine article has pie of Art Boo k.docx 2018.06 Lucier Sotheby's International Realty.docx 2018.07 Instagram by Angela Free Design.docx 20 18.10 Restoration Hardware catalog ue.docx 2018.12 Grandin Road catalogue.docx 2019.02 Assouline advert.docx 2019.02 Grandin road-page 24.pdf 2019.02 Hauser& Wirth Link.docx 2019.02 Pottery Barn.pdf 2019.03 Bellib Library-In the Stacks.pdf 2019.03 Ventana .docx 20 19.04 Assouline in Bon Marche, Paris.docx 2019.04.29 Architectural Digest-Screen Shot.docx 2019.05 Interests of the greatest rooms of Century- by Phaidon.docx 2019.05 INTERIORS Greatest Rooms of the Century-Phaidon.docx 20 19.05 Interiors of the greatest rooms of the Century-Phaidon.docx 2019.05 Just One Eye selling book.docx 20 19.05 Showhouse at San Francisco .docx 2019.05.28 Le Bon Marche-Paris.docx 2019.06.18 NY Times.docx 20 19.06.22 Alisa found Vogue-Paris magazine in cafe .docx 2019.07 CB2- Crate & Barrel.docx 2019.07 Marriott Porte de Monaco Hotel.docx 2019.07.08 RealReal-Pop-up NY.docx 2019.08.27 CB2 July 2019 catalogue.docx 2019.10 Fall Antiques Show.docx 2019.11.27 Jill Cohn found in magazine that I can't read.docx 2019.11.27 Photos from Ads that include Art House by Chara Schreyer... 20 19.12 France-Jiva Hills Resort, foothills of Jura mountains.docx 2019.12.15 Bon Marche, Paris.docx 2020.01.28 Kelly Hohla designer, Jackson, Wyoming.docx 2020.02 28 Tech Lighting ad..docx 2020.02 Architectural Digest on front cover with Aaron Paul's house .... 2020.02 Kravet for Palm Springs Modernism Week.docx 2020.02.11 Brad Krefman-designer.docx 2020.04.09 Heather Hilliard used book for staging.docx 2020.05.01 Designer-Lindsey Brier.docx 2020.07 Marin Magazine Summer of Change.docx 2020.07.23 SF Decorator Showcase by Kelly Hohla.docx