In this interview photographer, Famke Van Hagen, discusses her newly crafted home called Villa Zuma, a unique space located in the Northeast of Brazil. Famke and her partner aimed to create a place that represented their personal design taste to provide a calm and peaceful residence. Inspired by their travels and a desire for a bright and outdoorsy atmosphere, Villa Zuma reflects their state of mind and offers a feeling of coziness and tranquility. The collaborative process with local architect, Ananda Lages, allowed them to push creative boundaries while adapting to others. Famke expresses excitement about capturing the visual potential of the house, especially the special moon carving. Overall, Villa Zuma is a manifestation of their desires, inspirations, and the pursuit of an individualized and peaceful haven.
Tell us about yourself and Villa Zuma.
FV: I am a Dutch photographer born and raised in a small town an hour from Amsterdam. When I was 20 I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my career as a model and photographer and fell in love with a Brazilian director that was also living in Los Angeles. After a few years traveling the world together for work and chasing the sun we decided that we needed a place that we can call home (at least for a few months to a year).
Where does the inspiration of the house stem from? What were some of your initial thoughts when starting the concept?
FV: The main idea was to create a place that really represented us.
Since we traveled so much and stayed at hundreds of different hotels and houses we really started to understand what worked for us. Villa Zuma was far more than just a house, we wanted to create a feeling. A feeling that reflects our state of mind..the uncertainty, the unknown, but at the same time this feeling will make you feel cozy and calm. It's our getaway from this crazy life that we all live...This life of desires, career goals and in a certain way chaos. The design of the place was very inspired by adventures and our travels.
We wanted to always feel like we were outside even when being inside and as light is important in our work and we wanted to create a space that was bright and where light could shine everyday. The goal was to feel as thought you were lost and deep in the jungle even though you are inside the house.
Has this project pushed any creative boundaries for you? Were there aspects that were more challenging to bring to real life than others?
FV: Obviously we couldn't get all the ideas that we first had brought to life, but we believed that this is the beauty of the process. We also had to learn to compromise and adapt. Building a house isn't easy, now imagine building a house in an ''almost secluded '' area in the Northeast of Brazil? Yeah, it was a little bit of a pain in the a**. Haha.
Was this a collaborative process? Tell us about the team involved with this making.
FV: We partnered up with this young architect that we thought would be perfect to bring our vision to life. She understood us very well as we were super picky about what we wanted. She put all the inspirations and ideas into numbers that later turned into the corners of Villa Zuma.Fill
Villa Zuma has a lot of different features and Ananda Lages, who is our architect, really helped us push the limits of what can be done. The house is on the top of a hill in the jungle and the construction of the house kind of goes down with the land. It was something new for us.
How do you feel when photographing Villa Zuma?
FV: As shooting for Slowtide was one of my first shoots in the house, I still had to search for my favorite angles in and outside of the house. All the decoration and pieces inside of it were brought from my husband's adventures around the world and built out different photographable scenarios. The house changes just like nature does so I think it will take me a while to figure out my favorite areas to shoot.
Are there certain areas that you love the visual potential of?
Ahh, the big moon! I love the moon carved into the wall outside of the house. I came up with this idea because in the past years when I started to develop a strong connection to the moon and the sun. We really wanted to incorporate them both into the construction of the house. Can you imagine how happy we were to see that those towels have the sun and moon as part of their design? (Referring to the Real, Fun, Wow! Towel) These symbols make us dream about other worlds and depending on where the sun is, you can sometimes see the moon casting a beautiful shadow on the outside deck of the house.
For this shoot, we had our friend from Los Angeles, Gabriela, coming over. She was in Rio, Brazil at the time and she really wanted to come explore the region of Milagres where the house is located at. The region is surrounded by beautiful empty white sand beaches with coconut trees and blue waters. She came over, we shot around, found some empty waves and ate some amazing food at this gorgeous boutique hotel nearby called ZAI PATACHO which is owned by some of our friends.
Where does the name ‘Vila Zuma’ come from?
FV: It's a name that you can pronounce if you are from the US, Brazil, Europe...
Oh, it's also a beach that we love going to while here in LA.
Any other commentary you would like to mention.
FV: Thank you Slowtide so much for the beautiful products that reflect so well what we wanted to achieve with this house. Slowtide really became part of our daily lives while down there in Brazil. We basically live in those robes! Haha.