When entering into LO/A, the Library of Arts, you can catch a slight scent of newness. Is this because of the fresh and refined furniture, made of transparent polished resin combined with blond wood? Or is this because of the concept of the bookstore? LO/A is,above all, an idea, a philosophy, a vision. A two persons new experiment place created by Jeanne Holsteyn and Maxime Dubois.
You previously worked in the fashion business. What has this industry taught you in order to better manage a bookstore?
Maxime: Having worked in such a demanding area, artistically and physically, taught us to ask ourselves the right questions. We have no desire to be just one more bookstore, we deeply wish to participate in the exchange of artistic content. In the fashion industry as well as in many other industries, if you don't have inspiration you can't create much. This is why we wanted to create a hybrid place of inspiring sources, offering exhibitions as well as saling books.
Jeanne: Fashion gave us the chance of traveling a lot together. These trips showed us how the essence of cultures was poorly shared around the world, books have been for us an answer in our personal lives, it was quite natural to put them forward in our work.
As a creative duo, how do you share work?
We have two different ways, one is more operational and the other one more creative, we share work very easily. We choose together all the thematics, programs, books, exhibited artists. Each with our skills, Maxime on the AD, layout, identity and Jeanne on the sourcing, contact with the artists, set up of the exhibits, management and follow up with the development.
The furniture of the bookstore has been made by The Creative Sweatshop and Bien Des Choses. How does design inspire you?
Design is also a tool, it helps us realize and magnify our ideas. It has a really important role, the first thing you feel when entering a place lays the foundation, either you feel good and you come back, or the reverse... We had a clear idea of the location, Le Creative Sweatshop led us to a reflection on the shelves material, and introduced us to PEF (formerly BDC) for the carpentry part. The rest was built through meetings, reflections and everyone’s great creativity.
What do you like the most about running a bookstore?
Searching for books and meeting exciting people during the sourcing, but also the interaction and the sharing with the customers who continue making us discover new things about the proposed thematics.
How do you decide what projects you want to feature in the bookstore?
We trust our instincts. It's quite complicated to express, we are used to being open minded, analyzing and understanding the world around us. Thus, we are forced to anticipate these underlying trends. But it can also happen through some coincidence: a meeting, a book, an article on a particular topic...
Why do you think people have such an interest today in books and prints?
Maxime: Paper is the most important material in our existence, humans have a historical and special relationship with it. For me, the interest has never stopped.
Jeanne: Books are sometimes the last witnesses of stories and visuals not listed on the internet, they are essential to the global mapping of knowledge. Books provide a framework to what they contain, a reading. Personally, I think that the physical approach to the object creates complicity with what books share with us.
Many people describe your bookstore as an “anti-Tumblr” place. What are your thoughts regarding this multiplication of images and internet in general?
Internet is a good thing, it allows us to be all equal when it comes to art and creation. Not everyone can afford a multitude of books or have libraries next door, so we are in favour of information passing through it. What bothers us is how we manage and digest this information. We've all found inspiration on the internet sometime but how can we go back to the image in question? The website? It's pretty hard, one ends up with loads of folders with lots of images without copyright. Who owns this work? Which has been the artist 's approach when producing it? Taken out of context, there is no story. Internet is a real problem regarding the works' identity and their interpretation.
You have worked with Guillaume Delaperriere and Studio Périphérique. Who would you like to work with in 2014?
This year is already very busy for us, we are going to publish photographer Mathieu Caesar's first book, the re-release of Yoshi Omori and Jay One Wood Pigeon's book Movement, an exhibition about Italian graffiti in collaboration with Le Grand Jeu, the release of a book about Palestine rap music by Pierre Mérimée... and other things which are yet to come. 2014 is already full!
LO/A has also a creative studio and a publishing house. What's next?
We would like to develop an editorial section offering, during our thematics, round tables, documentary or film screenings, performances. All this is under study, we are actively looking for a place that could accommodate all these different contents.
LO/A’s new thematic The faith of street, Chroniques du Hip Hop will take place until August 30, 2014.
LO/A - 17 rue Notre Dame de Nazareth 75003 Paris

Open Tuesday – Saterday, 2pm – 7 pm