Since its inception, New York’s Dashwood Books has been the premier venue for art book launches and book signings and, of course, a go-to for bibliophiles seeking the rarest and latest finds in photography. In 2005, photographer David Strettel wanted to create the unique space to offer a selection of rare titles ranging from contemporary photography to fashion and lifestyle. “I opened the doors when many independent bookstores closed because of Amazon’s dominance and came to retail with no previous experience and any naivete,” he says of the 33 Bond Street store, “but I felt that a specialty bookstore in a city like New York still had some value, especially when the books I celebrated were often unavailable elsewhere and had physical qualities that really had to be handled to be appreciated.Dashwood has since nurtured longtime customers and friends who are close to the store. have developed.
Fostering such close ties has led to the creation of private collections for individual customers who trust the store and Strettel themselves, to create personalized reference libraries to suit their tastes. Strettel has worked with luxury brands such as Gucci – where he created a library of more than 1,500 titles in his SoHo flagship – and captured the attention of equally artsy venues.
This year, just three blocks from the Bowery store, Dashwood Books operated its first hotel library at The Mercer, where customers can browse the stacks carefully chosen by Strettel himself. Located in the heart of SoHo, The Mercer is a 74-room boutique hotel built in 1890 and designed by the late French interior designer Christian Liaigre. Now, upon entering the lobby, guests are greeted by a mahogany bookshelf stocked with specialty tomes from the adjacent independent shop.
In compiling this reference library, Strettel wanted it to complement the overall feel of the hotel and for the lobby to be “a private space where one can be left alone to really engage with the books”. In addition, his goal was “to complement their existing collection so that there is a wide range of reference works on the visual arts, yet contain enough surprises that even an informal browser is rewarded with inspiration,” he says of the collaboration.
Visitors to the Mercer hotel can enjoy a martini from the bar and browse Strettel’s exclusive literary picks. He is convinced that there is a book for every guest. The recorded titles range from The Kinsmen of the Kibbo Kift: Intellectual Barbarians by Annebella Pollen to Susan Meiselas’ Carnival Strippers – Revisited† After all, when assembling the hotel’s personal collection, he says, he took into account “the nature of their clientele: knowledgeable about the arts, with a discerning taste, and looking for something out of the ordinary.”
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