A pair of protective white cotton gloves lies atop the cover of the boutique’s showcase volume.
The tome takes pride of place midpoint in a narrow slice of a loft in the Fairmont Pacific Rim, its long wall lined with floor-to-ceiling walnut shelving, on which stand a variety of strikingly attractive coffee-table books. For size alone, this volume is special enough to warrant its own table.
Opened to a well-known portrait of Whoopi Goldberg, this thick, glossy archive of Annie Leibovitz photographs measures more than three feet across. It weighs almost 60 pounds. The monumentality itself is striking, but the care evident in the book’s production catches the eye as well.
I’m wandering through one of only two bookshops in Canada exclusively dedicated to Taschen, the renowned Cologne-based art book publisher founded by Benedikt Taschen 40 years ago. Bundled in winter layers and carrying a very full backpack, I’m conscious of my girth as I browse the nearly 300 books on display here. Surely, like the proverbial china shop bull, my ruining something has to be a matter of time? Happily, I’m less clumsy than I believed.
Since January the library has overlooked the hotel’s equally attractive multilevel lobby. Spare ottoman seating and marble tables complement the bookcases, while a menu lists concoctions made with small-batch liquors and unexpected ingredients. It’s an inviting message: Please indulge while you indulge.
The Leibovitz tome represents only one facet of Taschen’s wide-ranging aesthetic. Collectively, the books lining these shelves are lovely, but the portfolio of titles also suggests truly democratic taste. For every high-brow subject—Tadao Ando, Ai Weiwei, or Japanese woodblock prints—there’s a pop cultural counterpart: books, big and small, devoted to NASA, muscle cars, Mickey Mouse.
Taken together, the books dazzle the eye as they inform the mind. Add a glass of something exotic, and a morning, afternoon, or evening will pass by in a blink.
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