A Picture Speaks: Peeking Inside Ciarmoli & Queda’s “Folegandros Amore”

A photo book made out of love, some of the pages of Folegandros Amore should come with a warning: you might need to move to the Cyclades now.

When Milanese designers and architects Simone Ciarmoli and Miguel Queda first set foot on the Cycladic island of Folegandros seventeen years ago, it was, banal as it may sound, love at first sight. The island awoke a feeling that was too strong to ignore – an intense sense of connection which Queda, when I speak to him, attributes to the beauty and the genuineness of the place, and to the rugged wild nature and the strong winds.

But as in every love story, characteristics beyond beauty are what halts feelings from fading. In this case, the two Italian designers got to know the locals: “The human connection came just after we returned in the month of November to see the island under a more intimate and realistic perspective,” Queda tells me. “Inhabitants realized then that we really cared about the place for what it was, and started to look at us with more care and affection. Soon, we created bonds of friendship with them and even more with the island.”

More visits would follow. Many more. Eventually, they poured their hearts and skill into building a house on the island, and now spend their Christmases and Easters in the company of locals – their neighbors-cum-close friends.

The idea to create a highly aesthetic book in celebration of Folegandros and its people came from a simple wish to express their love for the island, and the title, “Folegandros Amore,” underlines its pure message: it’s not “love” or “agapi;” it’s “amore”, because they are Italian, and love is personal, and they love Folegandros. “This book is our tribute to the island and to its people, to beauty and to genuineness. We wanted to capture it in a photographic document that can be seen by future generations,” Queda explains.

The designers partnered with photographer Theo Vranas to create the book – a beautiful and minimal photo book for the coffee table or your travel book shelf, with their dearest neighbor featured on the cover. The images chosen and edited by Ciarmoli and Queda show an unspoiled place, where traditions live on in the homes and routines of its people. We see the contents of cupboards, tchotchkes and mementos, handcrafted lace, wildflowers, family portraits, and mismatched ceramic plates which could fit just as well in a hip restaurant today as in an island home. And the people: riding their donkeys, or grasping their walking sticks. While Folegandros has received increasing numbers of visitors in later years, these pages are dedicated to the locals, and to the beauty of the island which makes such an intense first impression.

When asked about their design work, which often involves luxury properties, and about which style – the glossy or the simple – is more “them,” Queda says: “In all our works we try to bring up features of the place where they belong. With Folegandros, for us it is about simplicity, tradition and its importance for the future. Tradition in the future is actually our motion; a legacy for the next generations. Without tradition, history and culture there can’t be a proper future.”

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