Monday, December 6, 2010

A Passion to Inspire: Miguel Flores-Vianna

There are some people who just have a genetic flair for the art of living well.
Miguel Flores-Vianna is one of them.

A former editor-turned-photographer (not to mention artist/global nomad/bon viveur), Miguel embraces life with an ardor that spills over into every corner of his existence.
(Photograph courtesy of Miguel Flores-Vianna)

Trust me, you know Miguel's work -- it's been featured everywhere from World of Interiors, Elle Decor, C, Domino, House & Garden and countless others. His warm, vibrant photographs exude the kind of seductive beauty that makes you wish you could crawl inside them.

(Above two photos via Miguel's website)

Take the one below, for example. Deceptively simple at first, gaze at it for a moment and the emotional tension created by all those contrasting motifs practically explodes: Ephemerality versus permanence. Man versus nature. Remembrance of times past versus the fathomlessness of the universe. It almost makes me weepy.
("Kardamily" photograph, 24" x 24", $699)

Recently, Miguel alerted me to the fact that he's having a One Kings Lane Tastemaker's Tag Sale on Tuesday, December 7th at 6pm PST. (Lucky, lucky us.)

As he told me, "It's a very personal sale of my photographs, art, furniture, fabrics, china and travel mementoes. All of the items were at some point part of my homes or were bought with a specific project or place in mind. I always welcome certain changes in my life; therefore, when OKL asked me to participate, it felt right to put some things up for sale."

Despite his hectic schedule (he was en route to the airport), Miguel was kind enough to answer a few questions I put to him. I've interspersed them with some of the items that will be available to purchase on Tuesday. Enjoy.

What inspires you?
People and travel inspire me the most.

(Vintage Greek royal flag, $199)

(Louis XVI style chair upholstered in brown and white stripe, $629)

What color palette are you continually drawn to?
Color preferences tend to depend on my mood and yet there are certain colors which have stayed with me forever. I always and only wear orange socks. My favorite shirts (of which I have countless) are in blue-and-white striped fabrics. I marvel at the beauty of faded red velvets and of course I love "l'heure bleue", that magic moment at the end of the day when the light is almost gone and night is around the corner.

("Piamonte" photograph, 24" x 24", $699)

Who are your style icons?
I don't have style icons and yet I am so inspired by the life of the writer Patrick Leigh Fermor, traveller, war hero, sportsman, architect and erudite - and of course amazing - writer.

("Siracusa" photograph, 24" x 24", $699)

Where is your favorite vacation spot on earth?
Although I have been to all the oceans and continents of the world, it is the Middle Sea, the Mediterranean, that represents for me the ideal summer vacation. That mixture of azure waters and dry rocky coasts enhanced by gnarled vegetation, the fragrance of honey and pine and the amazing presence of rich cultures and old histories is my idea of paradise. The sounds of cicadas by the sea, whether in Greece, Italy, Spain or Turkey, is the most beautiful music I could ever expect to hear.

("Alessandro, Lulu and I/Home" photograph, 24" x 24", $699)

How do you relax at the end of the day?
I like baroque music a lot - Ignaz von Biber, for example - and ideally it is snowing outside and there is that gentle quietness of snow, soft and crunchy and mysterious, and maybe it is past midnight, the perfect time to have some tea sweetened with fruit preserves, to give it the scent of past summers. This is the time to remember the color of someone's eyes, to hear the gentle snores of the dogs one loves and to dream about the next mountain to conquer.

("Bed/Home" photograph, 24" x 24", $699)

What do you serve when friends are coming to dinner?
I grew up in Argentina - so much red meat, I rebelled against it! To this day, in these complex times, I still think that roast chicken is heaven.

("Lars Table" photograph, 24" x 24", $699)

Is there a novel that changed your life?

I am not totally convinced that a book could change my life. But the sum of a few have given me a sense of direction...

As a child, my mother read a lot of Hans Christian Anderson and The Brothers Grimm to me.

My adolescence was peopled by the romantic visions of Alexandre Dumas and the wild Norse myths.

In my twenties, there was only "The Sheltering Sky" by Paul Bowles.

My thirties were consumed by the Russia I saw in "Anna Karenina" - it made me appreciate anything that was produced by that amazing country in the 19th century and introduced me to Napoleon who, through further reading, became so much more real and human and interesting.

Now, in my forties, I have finally given in to biography and Patrick Leigh Fermor has become my blazing star.

(Turkish dervish dancers, set of two, $159)

(Pair of marbleized plates handmade by Miguel Flores-Vianna, $89)

(Watercolor by Yuri Suzuki, $769)

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
These days I am at my happiest when I am with Daisy and Nacho, the two - to me - most lovable Labradors in the world.

Last question. An easy way to make life more glamorous is...?
Humility is the sign of true glamour.

("Mama" photograph, 12 x 12, $399)


Unknown said...

What an inspiring post! His style is exquisite and I love his answer about glamour! His story reads already like a fairy tale. Such a charmed life!
And now I want to know all about Patrick Leigh Fermor.

Julie Anne Rhodes said...

As I delve a little deeper into the world of food photography, I have so much more respect for photographers than I ever did when I was in front of the camera - being the vain person I am, all I cared about was if they made me look pretty or not in those days.

Inanimate objects are infinitely more difficult to photograph and make come to life - Miguel succeeds and surpasses. He's so adept at making the dimensions jump off the page, and his use of color provokes a surprisingly strong emotional reaction from me.

Love them all, but the picture of the flowers with the tomatoes in the background is mine, so hands off! (Just kidding - I get to but a new sewage drain for Christmas instead - so very unsexy).

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

VIctoria Art: I want to know all about PLF too...have just put four books of his into my Amazon cart. So glad you liked the post!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Julie Anne Rhodes: I am 100% with you on the photography front. My favorite lensmen (and women) manage to imbue each frame with emotion, something that I have increased respect for every time I lift my Nikon D40. Miguel's work is enchanting, and I agree - his play with color could bring a shaft of happiness to the heart of the most inveterate gloomster!

Virginia ("Ginn") said...

It pleases me to see Miguel's happy face smiling back at me from your blog. I enjoyed getting acquainted with him during an adventure in Spain back in mid-2009. His photographs speak to me and his comments ring true. Thank you for this window into his world.
In Sunny SC

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Virgini ("Ginn"): Lucky you -- so far, Miguel and I are "friends who haven't met yet"...!

DM said...

He once sent me a lovely email (I think he found my blog from yours) and was so humbled after seeing his absolutely stunning work. Such a beautiful post, Lisa!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Daniel-Halifax: We need to all get together in 2011 -- I'll let you know when I'm NYC-bound. xx

quintessence said...

Wonderful post! I adore his work and loved learning more a bit about this very talented artist. Like you and Victoria Art, I'm now so curious about PLF - my next mini research project. I'll be sure to stop by OKL tomorrow evening!

Emily said...

I only knew him as Ina's friend on the Barefoot Contessa. I had no idea he was such a prolific photographer which such a huge talent! How nice of him to take the time to answer your questions too. Interesting to read!

Anonymous said...

A lovely post with a "man of heart" - thank you.

Laura Casey Interiors said...

What a wonderful interview. I hope you were able to scoop up something from his tag sale!

Angie Muresan said...

Thanks for the great introduction, Lisa. What an amazing artist!

Peace Love & All Things Creative said...

love your blog! i'm your newest follower :)
check me out at

Benetz said...

I have a great time reading it. Thank you for sharing.


I worked with Miguel once for ELLE decor when I photographed Lisa Fine's place in Paris, and he is indeed a very nice guy. If you ever read this Miguel, I send you my warmest regards and keep the best memories of you.


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