Book Nook: Ibiza Bohemia
Maya Boyd (Text), Renu Kashyap (Producer), Published by Assouline (June 2017)
Every once in a while, one comes across a coffee table book so engaging that it not only feeds us with knowledge and induces us to linger at the images, but it also encourages us to immerse ourselves in a place. Ibiza: Bohemia produced by Renu Kashyap, published by Assouline, is one of those books. The muted tones of the book’s photography evoke a languid lifestyle: the emptiness of a narrow street at midday, outdoor evening dining, and lounge seating on the beach at sunset.
Assouline has long specialized in the publication of books about cultural aspects of life: art, luxury design, fashion, architecture, and dream destinations. Few dream destinations conjure up as clearly defined images in our mind about a way of life as Ibiza, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands. Unlike its sister islands, the attention-grabbing big sister Majorca, the laid back Menorca, and quiet little sister Formentera, Ibiza has a certain mystique about its lifestyle. It is the true isla bonita with its light, its beaches, and its low, white, geometric-shaped buildings.
Yes, over the last years, it has become the place for clubs and celebrity sightings in the summer, with images of them captured by the popular press, walking along the beach, sunbathing on their yachts surrounded by their entourage, closed off to the rest of us. But there has always been another side of the island, away from the jet-set, literally and figuratively. The lifestyle associated with flowy, white embroidered cotton dresses, so-called Adlib fashion, living without excess, as close as possible to land and sea, “off the grid” before this became a thing. A place shaped by and linked to its inhabitants, notably artists, creatives, free spirits, and, of course, the original hippies from abroad who settled in the 60s, seeking an alternative lifestyle. Whether you call their latter-day incarnations hippies or bohemians, they are the ones we have all met along our life journey; those who refuse to color inside the lines, to the scorn of many and envy of others.
The introductory essay by travel writer Maya Boyd provides a brief history of the island from its origins in 654 BC. However, the focus is its discovery by travelers, beginning from the 1930s. In the decades that followed, it became a haven for those escaping oppression or restrictions on their freedoms elsewhere, and the 50s saw the beginnings of mass tourism. She perfectly captures the mood of the island in the 60s and 70s, upon the arrival of creatives-musicians-film producers, artists, designers, free spirits-who established residences and gleefully partook in the burgeoning nightclub scene with its free-flowing drugs, de rigeur nudity, sobered the next morning by the need to make their telephone calls from bars in the absence of telephone hookups. This period was perhaps the beginning of the Ibiza mystique, such that it became a must-visit spot for rock stars, film producers, supermodels, and other celebrities in the heady days of the 70s, 80s, and 90s.
The photographs capture the beauty of the island, for which it is known. Still, this is less National Geographic than Vogue Living magazine. The focus is squarely on the personalities: a baroness taking a sunset swim; a model, actress, and designer swimming under the water with her three sons; the owner of a well-known local clothing store, sitting in a room with his hundreds of record albums; and a former music producer with his scant possessions in the cave that he chooses to make his home.
Design addicts will satisfy their need for imagery of the built environment, of restaurants, boutique hotels, retreats, and other public spaces, but also houses or fincas of full or part-time residents, such as architect and interior designer Luis Galliussi, fashion designer Yvonne Sporre, Latvian model Inguna Butane, and the tented pavilion in the home of Cirque du Soleil CEO Guy Laliberté.
The following quote perfectly sums up my impression of the island after reading the book:
“Oh, Ibiza, it’s a lovely place or used to be. I’ve got a friend there, a painter…. He rents a large old farmhouse on a hillside that looks out across the Mediterranean. […] I’ll give you his name, but I can’t give you an address because, in Ibiza, there’s no such thing”.
Penelope Grogan, The Mending of Catherine
Images courtesy of Assouline publications.
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