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Michelle Lu, Semaine
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Michelle Lu, Semaine

Semaine began life in 2015 as a digital platform featuring Tastemakers; the team have produced over 100 films telling the stories of environmentalists, musicians, chefs, writers, mycologists, and activists.

In 2021, Semaine published its first book, ‘How to be a Tastemaker’, with Gestalten, which highlights some of these profiles. And last year it added a print newspaper to its channels. Co-founder Michelle Lu tells us about her concept of Tastemakers, and where the newspaper fits into the project.


What are you up to this Monday morning?
I always loved Mondays as a kid in school and I still do! It’s the start of the week so anything can happen which excites me.

The alarm goes off at 7pm with one of those light lamps—no phone. I meditate and then do a bit of yoga and pilates. I take my dog Tuck out, turn some music on in the kitchen, and make my coffee and breakfast. I try not to have checked my phone by then, sometimes I’ll read something over breakfast.


Michelle holds a recent copy of Semaine magazine


Then I’ll take a long walk with my dog, either around the immediate neighborhood or up to Montmartre. Nothing better than an early walk there for a view of Paris when no one is around. Mornings I try to keep my diary open and leave for brain intensive things—I learned this from a friend, to only ever take meetings in the afternoon, and it’s really been a game changer. I try to keep my phone away from me for the first few hours, to have what I like to call monk time (the concept of monk time stuck with me from a podcast I listened to!).


Detail of desk, pencil sharpener, stationery

Where are you?
I’m at home, at my office. I moved my office into my guest room during the pandemic and never moved out. Jury is still out on whether this is for the long or short term. It has its pros and cons, trying to enjoy the pros for now :)


Cover of Reader’s Digest, baby laughing

Which magazine do you first remember?
Oddly, Reader’s Digest (I grew up in the US).

Front cover of French magazine  Regain, split vertically between flouro green panel and image of cut, dried flowers

Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
Regain. It’s my guilty pleasure. I dream of a country life, and this represents everything I crave right now.


Front cover of Semaine issue six, a woman stand next to a man holding a deflated globe.

Describe Semaine in three words.
Joyful. Bold. Bright.

Why the name Semaine?
Semaine means week in French. I co-founded the company in London in 2015 (I was living there at the time). When we launched, we wanted to have weekly features. It was a naive and noble ambition—we quickly realised producing a weekly film and feature was going to kill us all.

But I still loved the name. Typographically, it looks friendly, with the roundness of the letters. We’ve had some pronunciation issues, especially in the States where people often say, well, semen…


Spread from Semaine nespaper featuring Erchen Chang

It’s a fascinating format, almost a monthly email newsletter but in print. What does the print magazine add to the project?
When we launched in 2015, Semaine was really at the forefront of digital media. We were an online magazine meets concept store, and we were known for our tongue and cheek videos that put our Tastemakers front and center. We’ve now produced well over 100 films and features and while this is very much still our wheelhouse, and each feature still launches with a film we produce, I really wanted our audience to be able to slow down and engage with our Tastemakers and their areas of expertise in a deeper way.

You might watch our feature on Paul Stamets and have your interest piqued by the world of fungi, but what if you want to experiment with functional mushrooms in your everyday life?

We hope our newspaper can actually touch your lives and become a resource you return to over and over again. We’re obsessed with this idea of educational content packaged in a digestible and approachable way. I’m a very IRL type person too (I know that sounds weird) and I believe that positive change happens in our real life experiences. During covid, children participated in studies to measure their retention in courses and it was shown that online learning does not foster the same kind of retention. Newsprint is a precious format and we hope that our newspaper breathes new life into it.


Cover of Semaine issue five, with Erchen Chang

How does the newspaper fit into the broader context of the Semaine platform?
Each Tastemaker that launches on is also on the cover of our newspaper and inspires the direction of the issue. I guess it’s like butter and toast. On their own they’re fine, but together, well, you can imagine.

We like to think of Semaine as the perfect marriage between a newspaper and magazine. It’s the size of a traditional broadsheet, and we love the fact that we’re able to play with this format that was in need of revival. It still blows my mind that, for some of our (much) younger audience, this may be the first time they are reading a newspaper! Inside the 24-page broadsheet, we’ve brought back some of our Tastemakers as columnists (Rohan Silva and Orsola de Castro for instance) we have longer form Think Pieces, a cartoon, and much more!


Each issue is built around a single ‘tastemaker’. How do you select these people?
Our most asked question! And, in fact, we published our first book ‘How To Be A Tastemaker,’ with Gestalten in 2021 to hopefully answer exactly this.

In 2015, the word Tastemaker wasn’t being used at all. At the time, we really wanted to avoid the word Influencer. We believe our Tastemakers are changemakers, pioneers, and trailblazers in their spheres of cultural influence. We believe Taste is conviction.

Yes, many of our Tastemakers have gorgeously tasteful aesthetics, but for us, it’s more about believing in your mission and what you have to share with the world. We try to ramp that up in our features. We try to choose our Tastemakers according to what we call our life cycles. We try to imagine what people are feeling right now. Do they need a message of renewal? Of hope? Of play? Then we look for a Tastemaker who embodies this mission.


What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
I’ve been traveling these past few weeks (I did a long trip to California and then London for the launch of our last issue) so I’m looking forward to having a quiet weekend in Paris!


Editor-in-chief Michelle Lu
Art direction Vie Studios


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