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Enigmatic beauty – ‘The Lives of Others: Sublime Interiors of Extraordinary People’ by Simon Watson

Dear readers, recently I had encountered some mixed feeling, ‘guilty’ and ‘festive’, for the ‘guilty’ part, that derives from being away from writing for such a long time, which I promised myself to keep it, ideally, once a week a post, however, with the amount of work – both my demanding day job, and, my own new fragrance launch, it’s just too overwhelming that I have to step away first before continuing my writing; for the ‘festive’ part, well, apparently, the sparkling Christmas mood is just everywhere, how surprising to see shops and streets are decorated in such festive décor so early, perhaps due to the pandemic and the economy down-drive that makes business owners to pull out all their festive merchandise sooner to take advantage of the longer selling time, but to me, the mixed feeling I had have turned that into an opportunity (or excuses) to start decorate my home a bit sooner. In order to get some ideas, I decided to visit a bookstore and get some reference over the weekend, but instead of getting some Christmas decorative idea, I did get myself an early ‘Christmas present’ (believe me or not)! It’s the beautiful interior coffee table book titled ‘The Lives of Others: Sublime Interiors of Extraordinary People’ by Simon Watson.

Published by Rizzoli, contributed by design journalist, Marella Caracciolo Chia; James Reginato, Writer-at-large for Vanity Fair; and Tom Delavan, design/interiors director of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, this luxurious coffee table book is a pleasant read for both the eyes and the mind. I have read about an intro about this book in one of the interior design magazine a while ago, which I never think of seeing the actual copy in town, giving the economy situation now that not many bookstore is willing to be that ambitious to bring in new titles to the market anymore, but seeing this book available simply thrills me a lot! Well-travelled and having a pair of great eyes on detail, Simon is a reputed photographer who took sophisticated interior and nature photos for decades, his works have been featured in multiple renowned style and interior magazines; for this latest book ‘The Lives of Others: Sublime Interiors of Extraordinary People’, it’s almost an immaculate collection of the photography work by Simon, which links both the interior and the people who lives in those spaces in a very poetic and elegant way.

From the exotic Tangier to the historic Rome, from the ancient 17th century Duchess’ residence to modern time apartment of legendary French shoes designer Christian Louboutin, the book captures the beauty of the old world, and the sumptuous interior of these remarkable people who lives in there, with his enigmatic and poetic way of capturing the images, which makes his work very alluring and sophisticated, if describing Simon’s work is like Dutch-painter’s style – Johannes Vermeer or Jan den Uyl for example, I think I have to agree with that, the dark elegance and tranquility, mixed with the old world still-life, the balance of layout and the unexpected angle of capturing the emotion of sculptures and objet d’Art, that literally manifests the style of Simon’s work but in our time, it’s current, and it’s real. While some of the interior design shoots might perceived as ‘staged’, these photos appeared in this book are literally real people who lives in there, without being too out-of-reach given the prestige of these remarkable people held, they have bridged the surreal lifestyle and stylish interior to the reality for everyone, that we can also experience it without travelling that far (especially with the pandemic situation now), and, taking the inspiration from there and create our own living space with similar kind of great style and story.

For some reason, when I was enjoying this book, a song from one of my favorite singer was prompted in my head – ‘Insondables’ by Mylène Farmer, perhaps it’s the euphoric and mysterious feel which took me far from feeling ‘guilty and ‘festive’ anymore; to you all, my dear readers, do let me know how do you feel after having a glimpse of this book, and the photographer’s work.


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