Haute Bohemians: Greece: Interiors, Architecture, and Landscapes

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Haute Bohemians: Greece: Interiors, Architecture, and Landscapes

Haute Bohemians: Greece: Interiors, Architecture, and Landscapes

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I’m not a portrait photographer because I am quite shy, and the relationship that you have to establish with a subject when you photograph a person is very intimate, even if it lasts two minutes. But I think I develop something like that with the rooms that I photograph. In a way I try to fall in love with them, because if I do then I will be able to portray them in their best light. So especially when I do a book, I end up falling in love with every single house, every single room. They all have a story. Miguel Flores-Vianna, why did you fall in love with London? Is it because London is a very important place for houses? A land immortalized by poets for its otherworldly beauty, Greece is the birthplace of iconic monuments that are known the world over. Yet, at the same time, it is also home to an organic architectural language, the product of centuries of rural and island lifestyles—it is the heir both to the timelessness of classical architecture and the simplicity of rustic living.

In Jasper Conran and Oisin Byrne’s Lindos home, the Sala—formerly the hub of the house—is never used. “This is where the magic lives,” explains Conran—the magic being the spirit, the genie in the bottle, that blesses the house and imbues it with a peace that allows for the comforting rhythm of a Mediterranean life, where friends, food, and beauty are always center stage. Conran and Byrne’s house is, in reality, two 500-year-old houses that were put together last century; the Sala is the grandest of the rooms, surrounded by a cluster of smaller ones and gardens. I felt that a book that showed just the summer side of Greece would be a disservice to the country so I tried to show different homes that belong both to living people and historical figures. I went more or less as far as I could go in the Greek geography, so there are island homes in Hydra, Lesbos, Paros, Patmos. A glorious, intimate homage to the magical country of Greece, from bestselling photographer and writer Miguel Flores-Vianna. I’m quite shy, so it’s easier to photograph a room than to photograph a person. When you stand in front of the person you’re going to photograph it’s quite an intimate act, and there are many more people who handle that much better than I do. The rooms that I photograph are extensions of the people who live in there. Rooms are part of your personality, of your culture, of who you are. If you let that room become you and furnish it with the things that you love, that you’re passionate about, that you have collected on trips, whether they’re expensive or very cheap, those kinds of rooms really fascinate me because they tell me a lot about the people who live there. Every photographer who photographs interiors tries to photograph the mood of the place. I try to catch it at a time when perhaps the room is not as well-lit as when the sun is pouring in, because I try to capture the mood. That mood can vary according to the mood of the photographer and also the mood of the people who are letting you in. If you were to send me to photograph a house today and then you were going to send someone else to photograph it tomorrow, not only the images will be composed differently, but also the mood and the light will keep a patina in every frame. One room can be seen in different ways by different people.

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The homes of an extraordinary range of individuals are featured, from artists and interior designers to royalty and philanthropists. Among them: This stunning volume chronicles Miguel Flores-Vianna’s photographic odyssey through the beautiful Greek landscape, showcasing historical houses alongside contemporary homes, united by the colorful characters who either live or have lived in these places—the “haute bohemians.”

My first book, Haute Bohemians, features houses that belong to architects, fashion designers, art historians, collectors, artists, ceramists, and writers from all over the world. I was interested in tracing their personal taste, the small universe they create using artworks, furniture, and objects, their lived spaces. I decided to dedicate my second book, Haute Bohemians Greece, to Greece itself. Every year I spend a month and a half at Hydra, where I find time to reflect and decompress. The publication is a tribute to your homeland. This one is focused on Greece. I have been a lover of Greece for many years, not only because I visit it every summer, but also because my parents were fervent Greek admirers and my mother studied classical civilizations at university, so it was very present at home. As a kid, I kept on saying goodbye to them every time that they went to Greece on holidays. They wouldn’t take me then, but as soon as I was a teenager I started going. I like the geography and the weather in the summer, but I also like the people very much. In many ways, the Greeks are similar to the Argentines, so I feel very at home there. You write that you have a guiding question of ‘what would Min have done?’, referring to Min Hogg, founding editor of Interiors magazine. You say that she knew how to mix the grand, the humble, the new, and the old, and I wondered if you could say a bit about whether that mix is completely inherent to your concept of the ‘Haute Bohemian’? Would you avoid something only grand and old or humble and new?I love the way you go beyond the archetypal blue and white of Greece, and show that the palette of Greek colour is actually much wider. There are some bright greens and pinks, and terracotta red, which you bring out so well. One of my favourite pictures is of those rust-red sails on the loveliest old wooden boat, set against the blue sea. And you bring out this distinct colour in other places as well: in a house in Thessaly in its wall paintings and roof tiles, a kind of Knossos red that people don’t usually associate with Greece but that is absolutely Greek. Yes, the English know how to make their homes very comfortable and have a sense of humour that translates into their houses. There’s a certain irreverence but, at the same time, respect for many different things that live in a room together. The English are very good at putting rooms together with things that come from different places. Stepping out of the busy medieval alleyways in the bustling harbor town of Lindos, one enters the main courtyard of this sixteenth-century house. It touched me to hear Conran speak about the house, as it was clear how much he and Byrne are aware of the building’s long life and know that, under their care, it must be preserved and treated with the respect that it deserves. The house is certainly in safe hands. Yes. If a house is authentic, your financial station in the world doesn’t matter. In this book I tell a story of when I was in in the Canary Islands with Min Hogg, who started the World of Interiors. I went there to photograph her house and then Min said to me, why don’t you stay one or two days more and I’ll show you the island. We spent a whole day driving around and seeing different places and at the end of that first day, she said to me, tomorrow I want to show you some houses. I was prepared to see grand Manor Houses, and the first house she took me to see was the house of her housekeeper. When we walked into the house, I realised why. It was a very humble house but it was done with an immense care of the aesthetics within the means of this person, and with a great sense of respect for whatever object this woman kept and for the few very simple things that she hung on the wall. The whole thing was absolutely beautiful. It was poetic and it reflected the woman. Authenticity gives rooms and spaces a sense of authority and poetry which moves me.

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