An LA Treasure: Book Stand

We count ourselves big fans of the print medium here at Madewell, so when we discovered the wonder that is Book Stand, an online shop devoted to offering a thoughtful curation of the most exquisite, and often very hard-to-find, books and magazines, we were immediately smitten. The curator responsible for all this amazingness? LA-based art and film director Claire Cottrell. Read all about her:
Claire Cottrell in her LA home. Photo by Jessica Comingore.

Can you tell us a little about your background?
I studied architecture but was seduced by advertising when I was finishing up grad school. I worked my way up as a producer and then, after feeling like I’d lost my way creatively, switched gears and started working as an art director, and then as a film director. I’ve always been obsessed with art books.

What inspired you to start Book Stand?
In between jobs I was making a living creating mood boards for ad campaigns, film and television. It was kind of crazy, but big production companies would pay me to research and present inspiring images to help clients visualize a project. The more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with the idea of a place where you can literally shop for inspiration.

How do you find the books and magazines you feature?
I start with a subject that’s of interest to me (plants, a specific color, a philosophy) and then start looking around, which involves everything from poking around the internet to scouring second-hand stores, friends’ personal libraries, etc. And lately, I’ve had some really interesting submissions.

What are your top five favorite titles you are currently carrying?
Are Plants People, by Mark Borthwick
Blossom, by Hermine Van Dijck and Eefje Coninck
Plants and Mammals, by Carol Bove
Natural History, by Jordan Sullivan
Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry, by Leanne Shapton

Do you have any favorite bookstores or literary landmarks that you’ve visited?
0fr. in Paris and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts.

What are the first books you remember falling in love with?
Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome
The Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton
Take Care of Yourself, by Sophie Calle

What are your thoughts on the Kindle culture?
I think it’s great if you’re an avid reader, but personally, I can’t do it. I spend enough time looking at a screen; the printed page is my escape from digital everything. Add to that, I think tablets work for literature, but the art book is (and always will be) best as a beautiful object that you can hold and cherish.