“Little Nelly got a hot reception. Four big shots made improper advances toward her, but she defended her honour with great success.” Bond, You Only Live Twice.
I un-pouched TheArsenale from it’s bubble wrap cocoon. It had some weight, coated in black tactile alcantara. As I flipped through the pages, notes of linseed oil, maybe a dusting of teak hit my register. I stopped on a page about a DS designed UFO. I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with the thought of being abducted by a Citroen. But then, how narcissistic to think anyone would want to abduct little old me. I could only imagine the sweet sigh of disappointment when presented to the king bee on the alien mothership. Not handsome enough of a specimen for the super galactic keep-net. Plaintively he would wave me off with his long green fingers. Dismissively, I’d be disgorged and thrown back to the Oxmoor estate where I’d spend the rest of days telling tales to the locals of The Lord Protector how I was ‘taken’ … by a Citroen.
Sorry what the fuck was I talking about?
Ah yes, The Arsenale. The almanac on independently designed motion products. Described in relative terms to me as an Argos catalogue for 007. Available to buy here. I caught a word with the books godfather, Patrice Meignan. Imagery by Ricky Thomasson.
How long did it take to bring this book from concept to market?
TheArsenale is a book I have had in mind for a really long time. I have always been in the motion industry, and my passion for cars, bikes, boats and planes goes back to childhood. The oldest pictures of me, from the late 1970s, show me in an aeroplane hangar holding a screwdriver while my dad fitted a VW Beetle engine to a custom prop plane. I started publishing magazines at 25, and the best known of them is Intersection, which is a car culture mag produced in Paris. I also have a marketing agency called l’Ecurie which specializes in motion products and brands. TheArsenale is the sum of our passion. It took just four months to produce this book as we knew from the outset exactly what we wanted.
How did you vet what motion vehicles made the cut, what was the criteria?
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. We already have a network of these people through my other businesses. You can find thousands of interesting things on Pinterest but we wanted to create a dedicated space for real world cutting-edge products. We are also a marketplace, and therefore as well as curating these cool products we are representing the manufacturers and collaborating with them in business.
Who is this book 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 toy catalogue for aspiring James Bonds.
What is your favourite excerpt/vehicle?
It’s hard to pick one. I’ll pick three: The ATV Sherp is a blast, an Arsenale-style micro tank. I wish I had one for the streets of Paris. The Cobalt Valkyrie, to take my daughter flying. I love its metallic colour. And the Ortega submersible to visit the sea bed like a super spy.
Did you source all the imagery yourself? Did you take them yourself how did that work?
Half the images have been produced by us and half by the manufacturers. We’re actually working on a film with BASF’s paint brand R-M that will present them all. Our next challenge is to produce content with these men and their machines.
Finally, tangential question, what is your favourite motion vehicle from the Bond Franchise?
Obviously, the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me. That’s the most Arsenale vehicle of them all. In fact, Rinspeed have produced a submersible based on the Lotus Elise, called the sQuba, which could find its way into TheArsenale Vol.2. Yes, we’re working on a second volume which will appear before the end of this year. There are just so many cool motion products to talk about.