Palaces and Magic
Renowned interior and portrait photographer Roland Beaufre talks about his travels, his work with famous subjects, and his never-ending fascination with unconventional places.
Words: Ger Ger
Images: Roland Beaufre
Images: Roland Beaufre
"My fascination with interiors started when I was living in a palace in Nancy when I was three and memories are still vivid. I thought it was magic. The feeling has never left. Nowadays many places can be magical to me, small or grand."
French-born Roland Beaufre was raised between Germany, France and Morocco, and studied plastic arts and architecture at École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. His career started in Paris in 1979 when he began to work for magazines like Décoration Internationale, Vogue Décoration, and Connaissance des Arts. More work picked up quickly and only a few years later he found himself working for international publications, such as England's The World of Interiors, Casa Vogue, Russia's Mezonin , and Japan's Seven Seas. Starting in 1994, many book publishers like Les Éditions du Regard, Le Chêne, Thames & Hudson, Taschen, and Khbar Bladna knocked on his door. Today he lives between France and Morocco when he doesn't travel the world for his clients. Photography is his passion.
"My favorite place is Tangier in Morocco, but I also particularly love New York, London, the Black Forest in Germany, Tamil Nadu in India, Mexico, and the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia."
"When The World of Interiors sends me to photograph a place I don't know, I am always excited for the discovery. My dream would be to photograph the International Space Station. I am a fan of science fiction."
As a child, Beaufre spent most of his time with his German nanny, who became something like his second mother and stayed home with him until he was 14. "My father was always away for his job (there was the Algerian War going on at the time and my father didn't want us to be in the middle of it). My mother was a very elegant and glamorous woman and she was very busy socializing. She loved me but she wasn't there as a mother. When I was 10 my father resigned from the army for personal reasons and we became very close. Same with my mother, with whom I got closer and closer growing older. My nanny always stayed in my life."
"One of the more emotional shoots was the one of Manolo Blahnik's house in Bath. When we arrived, Manolo told us his dog had died a few moments before. He was just about to call us to cancel the shoot. But ultimately we managed and we buried the dog."
"Some of the personalities and artists I have met in my life who left the biggest impressions on me were The Lalanne, Gérard Garouste, Paul Bowles, Andrée Putman, André Dubreuil, Madeleine Castaing, Rei Kawakubo, Gilbert & George, Helmut Newton, and Juliette Gréco.
My five most exclusive or secluded places I had the opportunity to shoot? A farm in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, published in The World of Interiors; the loft of designer André Dubreuil in London in the 90's; the Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi in Torino; an old barber shop in Goah, and Melk Abbey in Austria." — Roland Beaufre