With a strong sense of design, strengthened through the years of styling and producing interior stories for Elle Décor,
see his June 2010 cover story,
House Beautiful, World of Interiors and as former Editor-at-Large for Veranda magazine,
continues to lead the viewer into a world of selected and diverse stories through his photography.
Miguel’s shots are alive with grace and mystery, the natural colors flow.
The interiors read both unassuming and refined. His editorial eye for detail and stylistic vision makes him one of our design industry’s original edens.
After returning from a trip to Mani, reputedly Greece’s wildest West, sleeping with doors and windows open onto a fig orchard and the sea beyond, Miguel took time to answer the questions below.
Enjoy the Good Company of Miguel Flores-Vianna.
D: Best Lunch Spot?
MF-V: Last year I received an invitation to a birthday party in Sicily. The day before the big night my friends Lisa Fine and Nathan Turner and I were looking for a place for lunch. We came across a hole in the wall in Ortigia, the island part of the city of Siracusa. Lisa and Nathan are foodies, and although the place did not look so promising, we had to try it. The waiter suggested the house specialty: spaghetti with a sauce made of sardines and stale breadcrumbs. It was heaven, the best meal I have had in a few years. My friends set aside whatever they had ordered and we all ate from my plate and ordered more of the same. Lisa, who travels the world with a Ziploc full of crushed chili peppers in her handbag, sprinkled a few on the portions as they kept on coming. Perfection. I cannot remember the restaurant’s name, I do not even think it had one, but to anyone interested: it is on a small piazza just off the end of a street called Castello Manicace, on the island of Ortigia, Siracusa, Sicily.
D: Best Working Tools?
MF-V: The eyes.
D: Favorite Museum?
MF-V: It has to be the Prado in Madrid. There is nothing mediocre there. All those Velázquez’s and Goyas!
D: Favorite Color Combination?
MF-V: I like all colors and most color combinations, so in my case I would say that rather than a favorite color combination I have a combination “du jour”. My combination du jour is the one of a ceramic I bought a few weeks ago at Peter Dunham’s shop in LA. It is a 19th Century Syrian plate the colour of tea with milk, decorated with light sky blue colored flowers.
D: Something you would like others to know about you.
MF-V: A Swedish friend of mine taught me how to decapitate the top of soft-boiled eggs (I love to eat them late at night) with the swing of a knife, he says this is the way people opened them in the 18th Century. Inspired by a Russian custom I sweeten my tea with fruit preserves. I love Russian and I love the 18th Century.
D: Who or what are your current design icons?
MF-V: I do not have icons. Having said that, I must add that painters have created some of the best interiors I have seen. Artists have the ability to edit, to build up drama with a single word or just one stroke of a brush, which is the genius gene in them. Some painters have been able to use that talent when putting rooms together, and, in my opinion, the rooms created by people like Cy Twombly or Balthus are unsurpassed in the history of 20th Century interiors. Of course, there are some decorators who have that touch of poetry that, in my eyes, elevate their work. I love the work of the Spanish decorator Jaime Parlade, of Francois Joseph Graff in Paris and, although I have not been there in years, I still remember how in a trance I would feel every time I visited the house that Stephen Sills and James Huniford created for themselves in Bedford. Like Marian McEvoy, I think that if a room has no poetry, if it is devoid of that “artist” touch, it is a room full of stuff. I am not terribly interested in “stuff”.
D: What is your idea of a perfect weekend?
MF-V: The people I love, my dogs, a great book, food, wine, and an exotic adventure here and there.
D: What makes you belly laugh?
MF-V: I am an only child, but I have great cousins. When all of us get together, I usually end up laughing on the floor.
D: Current obsessions?
MF-V: Antique Mediterranean ceramics and tiles have been an obsession for a while. I am particularly interested in the history, the cultures and the characters of the Levant. I try to get there as often as I can. The life and letters of the writer Patrick Leigh Fermor fascinate me and since I saw an antler that once belonged to Elizabeth of Bohemia, also known as the Winter Queen; I have been a bit obsessed by her.
D: Favorite Charity?
MF-V: SOS Elephants Chad. It is a small organization helping elephants in that small central African republic.
Photographs used by permission, copyright © Miguel Flores-Vianna.