Take a look at the homes of the modern avant-garde through the lens of acclaimed interiors photographer Miguel Flores-Vianna, as we explore the unique and eclectic interiors featured in his book, Haute Bohemians.
At Carolina Irving’s Paris home, the books are a feature in themselves: an appropriate mix of colour, eclecticism and intellect.
The bohemian lifestyle has always been associated with a very specific brand of louche glamour. Whether it transports you to the music halls of fin de siècle Paris, or the tangled love affairs of the Bloomsbury group, the association is with both a romantic vision of financial hardship and an irrepressible creative spirit. Miguel Flores-Vianna, the celebrated photographer and bon vivant whose column in Architectural Digest has inspired countless interiors, uses his latest book to pose the question: who are the bohemians of today?
The answer is surprising. While possessing the same spirit of wayward creativity, today’s bohemians are, to quote Flores-Vianna, decidedly ‘haute’: major players in their fields, with bank balances to match. The bohemianism of his subjects is marked less by penniless artistry, and more by a wild eclecticism, mixing high and low, East and West, the historical and the cutting-edge.
Despite this grandeur, Flores-Vianna is vocal about his belief in “trickle-down decoration” — the potential for his images to inspire those unable to afford these palatial residences, and the presentation of a series of design ideas that can be adopted on any budget.
“The interiors shown represent many corners of the earth, but they all have this in common: they are haute in their sophistication, but bohemian in their joie de vivre and lack of pretension. Miguel’s book may document other people’s houses but in the end, it is all him.”
Alessandro Twombly’s guest bedroom plays with layers: bookshelves, bedposts and a hand-painted screen.
Each home spotlighted by Flores-Vianna feels wholly individual. Throughout these images you’ll find crumpled bedsheets, desks scattered with papers, books stacked on top of each other as if they’ve just been flicked through and set down. With his reluctance to overstyle the interiors, the lived-in spaces he captures offer a surprisingly intimate portrait of the personalities of the people who inhabit them — in his own words “the geography of a life”.
Ornate stucco and religious statuary is offset by simple farmhouse linens in this historical Tyrolean castello.
What is equally notable about these Haute Bohemians is how extraordinary those lives are, and the privileged access Flores-Vianna has been granted to document them. Take artist Alessandro Twombly’s Italian farmhouse: alongside shots of his elegant drawing room, we see the chaos of his studio, where his canvases of dripping wildflowers provide a backdrop to stacks of palette bowls and half-used bottles of paint. For Flores-Vianna, the process is always as interesting as the end product.
“It is the geography of a life that renders [these houses] unforgettable because they, like unforgiving mirrors, reflect who their owners are in a most personal way. They are like maps of their desires and like images of how they see themselves.”
Another highlight is a visit to antiques dealer Christopher Gibbs, stalwart of Swinging London and close friend of Mick Jagger, who opens the doors to his home in Tangiers. Walls painted a rich Pompeiian red are punctuated by Moroccan Berber textiles and Chinese cabinets covered in delicate marquetry. The anecdotes that Flores-Vianna includes — in the case of Gibbs, the scent of orange blossoms and the sound of a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer — add to his holistic experience of place, giving us an insight not just into the aesthetics of these interiors, but their essence.
As Amy Astley, the editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest, puts it in her introduction to the book: “Miguel has the rare ability to intuit the soul of a house, and to reveal – gently, wth great sensitivity – its secrets.” Delving into the heady world of the Haute Bohemians through Flores-Vianna’s consummately elegant lens, we are in invited to unravel these mysteries with unprecedented intimacy.