‘TheArsenale’ is a luxurious Alcantara-covered coffee-table book about independently-designed ‘motion products’ such as personal fighter jets, stealth boats, cars that turn into helicopters, and crocodile skin skateboards.
Imagine a catalogue for James Bond! Simon Wittenberg met up with the author and publisher to find out more.
LM: What are your backgrounds and career highlights?
Adam Hay-Nicholls (author): I’ve been a Formula One journalist for 12 years, and I have transitioned into writing about high-end cars and luxury lifestyle. Actually, that’s really where I first started, at Intersection, back when the car culture magazine was first launched in the UK. I then joined Red Bull as the staff writer on the Red Bulletin and was off covering all the Grands Prix. I went on to found Lotus Magazine, which was an award-winning men’s lifestyle mag, for the Lotus car company. I suppose a definite highlight was making a 34-page F1 fashion cover story for Vogue.
Patrice Meignan (publisher): For 40 years I’ve been passionate about machines, engines, design, motion, travel and movement. And for 20 years I have been a media activist and disrupter, publishing Intersection for 15 years and managing L’Ecurie, the communications agency I founded a decade ago.
I have been responsible for cutting down a lot of trees, so I wanted to turn to the digital business. With TheArsenale, I wanted to create the first online marketplace dedicated to independent designers and brands across mobility. The challenge is huge as no one has tried this before. We have published this book as a way of showcasing our vision.
LM: What inspired you to write this impressive coffee table book, and to wrap it in suede?
Patrice: I believe books are still the best and most authoritative way to transmit cultural ideas, and so even though TheArsenale store is a digital project, we wanted a printed book to anchor it.
Adam has been contributing to Intersection for a very long time; he’s one of the world’s top car and lifestyle writers. I really love his turn of phrase, and I knew he had the perfect style for this book; he’s punchy, concise, witty and elegant. So, I commissioned him to write it while I and my team at L’Ecurie curated all the products featured. It took just four months to produce this book as we knew from the outset exactly what we wanted.
TheArsenale talks about motion, innovation and independence. Everyone knows Mercedes, Ducati, Bombardier, but they don’t know Lazareth, Glider and Colbalt. We wanted to be the authority on cool design and incredible machines, and a federation for young independent designers around the world.
It’s wrapped not exactly in suede but in Alcantara, an incredible high-performance material. It’s found in the interiors of the coolest sports cars, speedboats and jets, so that’s why we chose it for the exterior of this book.
LM: How did you come up with the name ‘TheArsenale’?
Patrice: The Arsenale di Venezia, in Venice, was home to the most innovative shipbuilding in the world, back in the 14th and 15th centuries. It was literally Marco Polo’s garage, and he used it to conquer the world. We made a creative trip to Venice two years ago and the name was literally right in front of us. It’s strong, international and unusual.
Adam: So, it has nothing to do with football! Obviously, the word ‘arsenal’ refers to where weapons are manufactured and stored. TheArsenale is the home of, I suppose you could say, lifestyle weaponry.
LM: Who is your target audience for the book, and what brought you both together to create it?
Adam: It’s for people who aren’t afraid to be different, who want to be unique. People who value strong design, performance and innovation. People who don’t buy off the rack; they like their stuff tailored. These are products with personality designed for customers with personality. It’s a catalogue for aspiring James Bonds. They’re either maverick aesthetes or cowboy-astronaut-millionaires.
I lived in Paris for over a decade, which is how I got to know Pat, and I’d long contributed to Intersection magazine on both sides of the English Channel. When Pat suggested the concept for TheArsenale, I knew it was totally my kind of book.