We all need escape. Some of us more than others. You might count Uli Weber among the latter. The renowned German-born photographer – whose dynamic fashion work and revelatory portraits of celebrities and artists occupy a huge space in our visual consciousness – makes his home in London, but is always on the go. So when it’s time to say basta to all the globetrotting for a bit, Weber heads straight for his palazzo in Puglia.
Hailed for his keen eye and pristine technique, Weber seems to have shot anyone who is anyone, from Sting (swathed in a vividly red, fake fur coat) and Keira Knightley, to Kate Moss and Lily Cole. But stars and cover girls aren’t his only subjects. He’s captured architect Oscar Niemeyer and designer Achille Castiglioni and produced an entire book covering the Goodwood Revival, the vintage motor event held on the West Sussex estate of the Duke of Richmond.
Weber’s own country retreat was once the home of local nobility. The house, parts of which date to the 16th century, had lain empty for decades before the photographer acquired it. Not surprisingly, the property required some considerable TLC. The new padrone di casa executed an extensive renovation while exercising admirable respect for original details – floors, doors and windows – that are key to the character of the place. He even embraced the pink porcelain fixtures in the master bathroom. He also saw to it that the garden was refreshed, and installed a beautifully big pool.
Weber transformed the former stalls and servants’ quarters on the ground floor into a guest apartment with a 70s vibe and made himself at home on the first floor, with its great, vaulted rooms and marble and tile floors. Gathered over time, his furnishings range from Art Deco to a white leather B&B Italia sofa from the 1980s. “The main criteria,” he says for anything he chooses to live with, “is that I must like it visually. But I don’t mind a wild card every so often. Things don’t have to be perfect. I’d rather mix and match.”
While no country cabin, Weber’s singularly stylish home-away-from-home shares with the humblest getaway a just-the-essentials aspect. True, a shockingly pink salon sports a photo he made of a nude model adorned in a riot of body paint. But the sparsely furnished dining room looks almost empty, thanks to a quartet of Philippe Starck’s Ghost Chairs. And Weber doesn’t rely on much more than a coolly linear MDF Italia bed and a tiny, tripod side table to make himself a bedroom.
The places we live impact how we feel, even how we move through the day, how quickly we get out of bed, the meals we opt to make. In the city, one might be content to pass the weekend at home, ordering in and reading or binging on a favorite Netflix show. In the country, it’s only natural to get outside, even if that just means sitting in the sun and letting the mind wander. “I am very much at ease,” reflects Weber of his sojourns in Italy. “They allow me to relax, entertain friends or spend a few days simply in my own company. Not to forget the proximity of the sea and the ever-changing winds.” Who could ask for anything more?
Photography by Uli Weber.
For more like this be sure to check out the home and studio of artist Andrea De Carvalho
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