With a renowned reputation for the highest standards and quality, Merrell Publishers is an award-winning international publishers that specialise in exquisite illustrative books and exhibition catalogues. Since founding the publishing house in 1993, Hugh Merrell has adorned our coffee tables and decorated our shelves with books on architecture, art, interiors, design, fashion, art, photography and gardens. From Basquiat to Hells Angels, we talked to Hugh about publishing, telexes and our shared love for the White Isle.
You’ve worked with some of the most successful designers and creatives in the world from authors and photographers, to museums and private collectors. What do all of your books have in common?
Each project has given me the chance to learn something new about a subject I’ve been interested in. The one common thread that runs through all the books I publish is the determination to match the best possible images with the best possible texts, so that we can give the reader the best possible experience. I can only achieve this through working closely with my team of designers and editors. Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do.
You founded Merrell Publishers almost 30 years ago and now have offices in both London and New York. How has the publishing industry evolved since you first started?
When I got my first job in publishing it was routine to send telexes (does anyone remember those?!). Then in 1987, I used a fax machine for the first time. It was only a very few years later that we started using emails and mobile phones. Now, it is routine to discuss and agree a publishing contract, edit, design, print and publish a book without ever having met the author or photographer! Using Skype or Zoom has improved effective communication hugely and they enable me to hold meetings with my teams in London and New York and our publishing partners around the world. All of this makes working from Ibiza perfectly possible (even during Covid-19!).
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
One of the great delights of having been publishing books for nearly 30 years is the people I have met; from directors of major museums and galleries to brilliant photographers, and leading architects and garden designers to Hells Angels!
Ibiza has always been a magnet for creatives, designers and sundowners who visit for holiday and don’t leave. What captivated you about the White Isle?
I bought land just outside San Carlos in 2015 because I fell in love with the north of Ibiza and the Atzaró Valley in particular. The freshness of the air, the light, the people and the beauty of the Morna Hills. What makes Ibiza the best to place to be is its essential spirit of creativity. Whether it’s my neighbour growing his organic sandías in the Atzaró valley, Espacio Micus holding an exhibition in its stunningly beautiful space, La Nave presenting an artist’s work in its unique building, MACE staging an important retrospective or Ibiza Preservation working to bring people together to improve the island’s environment.
Please can you share your favourite local places to visit on the island?
I love to walk through the Morna Hills where one can see Formentera at the beginning of the walk and Mallorca at the end. It’s a part of the island where it seems that time stopped many years ago. Another favourite is the Torre de Campanitx and the cove at Pou d’es Lleo and midnight swims at Aguas Blancas. Bar Anita in San Carlos remains one of those places where Ibicencans and foreigners mix happily and where the camareros[waiters] seem to have infinite patience!
Thank you Hugh for an intriguing insight into the world of publishing and for sharing your journey with us. We are now off to re-stock our book shelves! Explore more of Hugh’s publications on www.merrellpublishers.com