Welcome to Librairie Semaine–the one-stop pop-up bookstore of your dreams. Created to celebrate the launch of our own, How to be a Tastemaker published by Gestalten in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris. Come by and discover everything your favourite Semaine Tastemakers from How to be a Tastemaker read, shop, and love. But first things first, what is a Tastemaker anyway? And what is taste? We traverse the streets of Paris with a girl on a journey (played by Prune Pauchet) to understand all things Taste. Will she finally understand where her taste comes from, or continue to be sheep choking on her own P’tit Basque (hint, it’s a French sheep’s cheese) with beret and baguette in tow?
Read on to discover the opening essay in How to be a Tastemaker written by Jonathan Mahon-Heap to guide you along the way. See you on the other side.
“Who makes taste? How to Be a Tastemaker gathers the characters of Semaine into one volume. To the extent that we can speak of a future, this is the future of taste—those who have crowbarred into movements and stepped through them with us, those who have opened doors and left them for us to walk through, those who cross-pollinate crafts with joy and curiosity. Taste for these characters is a way of living—a thread that they follow from waking moment to distant travel, whether by mind or body.
Our hyperconnected society today mocks conventional notions of taste. It is not by coincidence that you find Claudia Schiffer among the same pages as Hans Ulrich Obrist, that Kengo Kuma is a few turns away from Susan Miller. Our journey with these tastemakers reveals much, but mainly the intensity of their convictions; the way their worlds of work and leisure are shaped by taste. What is good taste, after all, but having the honesty to announce your ways of thinking and feeling? Some will reframe your palette, others will affirm it, and others may have you shrieking in horror. None of our tastemakers are perfect; they, like all human beings, harbor contradictions.
For writer Susan Sontag, “Rules of taste enforce structures of power”; that is, the lines of taste we toe are inherited—the way we break them or abide by them is, in some way, a subtle nod in the direction of society’s power players. This book has no fixed point of taste, no single reference point, no workings. Some covetable oddities will spark joy; others may prompt you to close its pages. Finance, age, geography do not dictate good taste. After all, it can, as Dolly Parton attests, cost a lot to look cheap. We take taste for granted. The brain, with its infini- ties, does not evolve to a decision on beauty by the reaction of the senses alone. The spectrum of cultural movements, of politics, of inheritance, are the engines of our thoughts; our brains are subject to something more ephemeral than beauty, are anchored to the treadmill of another pathology. They obey the logic, lessons, and luxury of what we have learned as good taste.
Images by Josephine Schulte
Researching for this foreword, finding the usual glut of information—articles both scholarly and non-scholarly on the subject—one of the more apt for the purpose was a piece by a neurologist examining the brain and its capacity for beauty. We know a lot about the structure of the human brain—where marvelousness lies in the organ, as well as the capacity for despair and hope. But one study was careful to conclude: “Whilst the optimist might wish for a complete understanding of human nature and experience from such studies, others may insist that a map of the brain can tell us no more about the mind than a terrestrial globe speaks of heaven and hell.” Allow, then, Semaine to help you chart this terrain instead. The joy is in finding the object, parsing apart the beauty from the ugliness. Taste is the trapdoor we uncover in a castle to a basement of riches. If you ever find yourself at a loss, in need of a source of taste—good, bad, and all the domains in between— our hope is that you turn to these pages. Taste is, as the saying goes, a little like pornography—you know it when you see it. We hope you see it in this book.”
By Jonathan Mahon-Heap for Semaine.
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At Librairie Semaine in Paris, France, and discover everything your favourite Semaine Tastemakers from How to be a Tastemaker read, shop, and love. There's a little bit of each in all of us. Oh, and pick up a copy of our book and the perfect reading outift while you're at it.
Kilt-Style Checked Pleated Skirt
Tartan-style Crop Top
Ride with Vélib'
Embroidered Openwork Poplin Shirt
Librairie Book Bag
Semaine x Bourgine
How to Be a Tastemaker
Gestalten x Semaine
Histoire(s) du cinéma
Black Leather "Babies" Shoes
Let us take you for a walk around the block.
13 Rue Mazarine
Stop by Librairie Semaine in Paris, France, and discover everything your favourite Semaine Tastemakers from How to be a Tastemaker read, shop, and love.
15 Rue Mazarine
Grab a book and sit for a coffee next door. Two birds with one stone.
Le Jardin du Luxembourg
Nothing better to sit in the sun of the Jardin du Luxembourg with the perfect book.
Shakespeare and Co.
37 Rue de la Bûcherie
Maybe we shouldn’t be recommending another bookstore, but how can we resist this iconic English language bookshop founded in 1919 by Silvia Beach.
A favourite book can change, shape, inspire, amuse and much more. Scroll down for some of our Tastemakers favourite ones, and visit the Librairie Semaine for a complete collection of Tastemaker favourites.
“It demystifies the allure of strong, beautiful, nasty women, which had always kept me a bit uncomfortable around them before. I discovered there was nothing to be afraid of, only to admire.” – Christiaan Houtenbos
“I’ve read it 500 times. I love the French romanticization of summer and this book is just that.” – Sabine Getty
“I adore its host of obscure, frantic characters (impossible to get out of one’s head, I fell in love with several of them), and the autumnal Vermont setting. The book is dark, mythic, and intense. A perfect slice of storytelling.” – Luke Edward Hall
Crime and Punishment
“I love stories that focus on moral dilemmas, where the protagonist is acted upon by opposite forces, makes a decision, but then has to live with the consequences.” – Susan Miller
“This book introduced me to doomed romance and outsider energy. I grew up by the sea in Devon and the local town is very preppy-the U.K.’s answer to the O.C. I was all blue shaven hair and Grateful Dead T-shirts and did not fit in at all. So I really lost myself in books and this one helped me become proud of being a misfit.” – Fee Greening
A Season in Hell
“This was my first Rimbaud, and I it gave me a desire to discover Africa. Later I had an occasion to visit there and it became the origin of my architecture.” – Kengo Kuma.
We Should All Be Feminists
“I have read this book three or four times now-it is so powerful. It opened my eyes and changed my way of thinking.” – Yinka Ilori
“Is being tall a social currency? Am I the contents of my fridge? Does yoga matter if you’re not filthy rich? Is a bagel four slices of bread? Are three cigarettes a meal? Raven Smith’s tale on the importance we place in the least important things and our frivolous attempts to accomplish and attain, is guaranteed to make you lol, and not just once.” – Raven Smith
10 Questions for 10 Tastemakers
What does the word “taste” mean to you?
Luke Edward Hall:
It’s utterly personal. Its how you chose to live your life, its the things you’re interested in, the things you collect and surround yourself with.
Do you have a life motto that you live by?
Well-behaved women rarely make history – being disruptive creates transformation.
What was the last thing that made you laugh?
Getting yelled at by my assistant.
What are your favourite qualities in a human being?
Who is your hero?
What is your biggest flaw?
I cannot be patient in long meetings.
What is your best quality?
My quality of sleep is good.
What would your last meal on earth be?
I just wrote “anchois” but it spell-checked to “nachos”. Coincidence? I think not…
What does success mean to you?
That I love myself and have the freedom to do what I am passionate about.
If you had the power to change anything you wanted in the world, what would you change?