In a new book, James Silverman documents some of the world’s most spectacular houses - from the remote mountain dwellings of northern Europe to the palatial villas of South America.
A new photography book by James Silverman, the Gothenburg-based photographer, seeks to demonstrate the ‘uninterrupted flow between interiors and exteriors,” he writes. “Architecture [that] is defined by elements that absorb, reflect, or deliberately break with their surroundings.’
According to a 2014 poll; clergymen, CEOs and agricultural & horticultural workers make up the top three in terms of job satisfaction. Whilst photographers do not come anywhere near the top ten, one suspects James Silverman’s particular niche – that of photographing luxury houses – should chart well. Infinite Space is a compendium of such locales – an elegant selection of images seeking to identify and celebrate cutting-edge residential design.
Silverman has spent the majority of his career in Sweden, and the country’s aesthetic style is evident in his work.
Initially studying fine art at Chelsea School of Art before dropping out of a graphic design course at Manchester, the Brit discovered photography whilst journeying to India and Thailand “with a terrible point-and-shoot camera.”
He reflects: ’The images were either too dark or too light […] I wanted to learn how to capture an image with correct exposure, since being in these incredible new environments (and not being able to record them) felt disappointing.’
Five years later in 2000, Silverman got his first noteworthy commission after a friend asked him to photograph her auntie’s house for a magazine.
‘I wondered how I could possibly make it look interesting – it just looked like your average home – but the images were published (to my astonishment).’ Commissions started to follow, and upon moving northwards – a move inspired by his Swedish girlfriend – the sparse environment came to define his visual approach.
‘I discovered architecture in Sweden […] the textures, fabrics and fussy details I was used to seeing in the British designers was a world away from the Scandinavian aesthetic. I changed styles immediately from close-up crops of details, to getting one side of a room to the other in frame, otherwise [the image] just wouldn’t tell a story.
Whilst the book contains a mix of handpicked locations alongside residential commissions, Silverman is firm about the cohesive ocular quality of the work. ‘The locations can end up quite random’ he adds, ‘I don’t choose the country. I choose the architect,’
Random indeed. Whilst the photographic style may be consistent, the architecture is not. From the extraordinary blue adobe of Mexico’s Casa Tigre del Mar, to the luxurious brutalism of Casa Brissago in Switzerland, these are buildings unified by cohesion with their isolation – as opposed to a particular architectural movement or school.
Silverman confirms: ‘The Idea of Infinite Space came from seeing so many fabulous architectural escapes that extended into the landscape – whether it be natural or man made. It didn’t have to be large but the feeling of the space had to give the impression of an environment that goes on for infinity.’