February Shop of the Month
With its generous view of Lake Geneva and the sprawling vineyards that surround Chexbres, Switzerland, the village has always been a traveler’s dream retreat. It is here that Céline Debray set up sérendipité, an independent book and magazine shop with an international scope and focus. We spoke with the founder to learn more about why she opened her bookstore.
When did all start?
sérendipité started in January, 2013, but for the first two years, it was originally limited to an online shop with mobile outlets—booths at design fairs and night markets, for example, across Switzerland.
Why did you open the store?
Because I have loved the printed word since I was five-years-old, and because it was so difficult to find creative and inspirational books and magazines in Switzerland. We live in a small country, but people adore inspiration from around the world. Though we have four national languages, we are generally good English readers and we love design and the arts. It was an obvious decision to do something like sérendipité.
Could you describe the neighborhood in which the store is located?
The store is nested in a charming village called Chexbres, which is very well known among tourists and expats as it is part of the Lavaux region—an area full of vineyards that is just above Lake Geneva, which is a UNESCO protected site.
What products do you offer your customers?
La superette by sérendipité offers three different services: a bookstore with a full selection of magazines and books to inspire creativity; a small épicerie fine with select fine foods made by local producers; a space dedicated to men and women working on handcrafts—makers and artists. Each quarter, I select six of them to sell their products: ceramics, illustrations, clothes, games, bags, accessories, foods and beverages.
What are your favorite Gestalten books?
I don’t know how to answer that question! Honestly, I shed a tear every time I sell a book from Gestalten because I really love them, and I want to keep them all for myself. If I could really just take one on a flight, it would probably be a Monocle Guide because I admire Tyler Brûlé and his amazing career. A few years ago, when i used to work at Ecole Hôteliére de Lausanne, the Design Hotel book was my bible.
What are your customers' favorite Gestalten books?
Who might be seen visiting the store? What kinds of people shop there?
I love a diverse mix of people, and our customers range from Asian tourists to Lausanne hipsters, as well as both expats and locals looking to discover new things and support a small, independent shop.
Do you do anything at your store besides sell books? Do you, for example, have any events or exhibitions there?
In addition to the small épicerie fine and the creative marketplace, I will organize creative workshops starting this autumn with a class on garlands. Each quarter, I will organize a vernissage to launch the new selection of work by creatives in la superette, as well as tastings.