Alain Elkann Interviews podcasts are an unprecedented window into the minds of some of the most well-known and respected figures of the last twenty-five years. Alain Elkann has mastered the art of the interview, approaching the task as somewhere between snapping a photograph and writing a short story. With a background in novels and journalism, and having published over twenty books translated across ten languages, Alain infuses his interviews with innovation, allowing them to flow freely and organically. A small selection, to which we will gradually add, are presented here as podcasts for the first time.
Décors Barbares is the textile company and design studio of NATHALIE FARMAN-FARMA, who specializes in fabrics inspired by the decorative history of Iran, Russia, and Central Asia. Prior to that, Nathalie worked in the publishing industry in New York City. She was an associate editor for The New Yorker magazine and a cultural producer for the Charlie Rose Show.
HOW THE WORLD WE LIVE IN WAS CREATED. Historian, novelist and TV presenter SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE has been reading extensively during lockdown. He recommends some delightful books and offers his perspective on Trump’s failed putsch.
A MAN WITH A MISSION. The conductor ALVISE CASELLATI is the creator of “Opera Italiana is in the Air” whose debut was in Central PArk, New York.
THE KILLING CODE. Washington Post reporter VINCENT BEVINS is the author of “The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder that Shaped Our World”. His book asks why the US government helped the Indonesian military kill approximately one million innocent civilians in 1965, and shows that the brutal extermination of unarmed leftists was a fundamental part of Washington’s final triumph in the Cold War..
DR VIRGILIO SACCHINI is a professor of surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the University of Milan.
THE STORY OF VAUX-LE-VICOMTE. ALEXANDRE DE VOGÜÉ and his two brothers own and run the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, one of the greatest Historical Monuments in France.
FERRUCCIO FERRAGAMO : PATERFAMILIAS OF MERIT. The Executive Chairman of the Board of Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A. has recently received Italy’s highest business award.
FACT OR FICTION. ROBERT LACEY is a writer and historical consultant to THE CROWN. Netflix releases the fourth TV series on November 15, 2020. Lacey recently published Battle of Brothers; William and Harry – The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult.
AUTHENTIC VOICES. JAMES FOX is an acclaimed writer whose books include White Mischief, Life – Keith Richards, and Look Again – David Bailey.
HOW DO WE MOVE FROM HUMILIATION TO HUMAN DIGNITY? HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE EL HASSAN BIN TALAL OF JORDAN is well known for his international humanitarian work. He was recently appointed Honorary Chair of the World Refugee & Migration Council together with former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
A BRAVE MOVE PAYS DIVIDENDS. MILA ASKAROVA founded GAZELLI ART HOUSE in London’s Mayfair in 2010 as an additional space to its BAKU gallery.
THE RIVER CAFE. RUTH ROGERS started her celebrated London restaurant THE RIVER CAFE in 1987 with her partner Rose Gray. It is still going strong today.
THE CHANGING FACE OF EUROPE. ANAND MENON is a Professor of European Politics at King’s College London and Director of the “UK in a Changing Europe”.
THE MINIMALIST WITH MAXIMUM EXPRESSION. JOSEPH DIRAND is an architect and interior designer based in Paris. He started his own design firm in 1999.
THE ECLECTIC SHOEMAKER. CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN is a designer whose work & creativity the Palais de la Porte Dorée in Paris is presenting as a major exhibition.
JOSEPH RYKWERT is one of the world’s leading authorities on the history of art and architecture. We publish this interview to celebrate his 94th birthday. Born in Warsaw in 1926, he is currently Paul Philippe Cret Professor of Architecture Emeritus and Professor of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania. The author of numerous books, among his most celebrated are The Golden House, On Adam’s House in Paradise and The Idea of a Town.
CHERRY BLOSSOMS IN PARIS. DAMIEN HIRST discusses his career and the new paintings on beauty, life and death that he plans to exhibit at Fondation Cartier.
CIAO! The photographer MARIO TESTINO has created his personal love token for Italy’s people, art, food, and fashion in the form of a new book published by TASCHEN.
REBUILDING THE JEWISH COMMUNITY IN RUSSIA. BEREL LAZAR is a Jewish Orthodox, Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic rabbi. He became Chief Rabbi of Russia in 2000.
RETURN TO GENOA. CARLO CLAVARINO is Executive Chairman of AON insurance company’s EMEA region. He recently bought & restored the Palazzo Spinola in Genoa.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FLORENCE. PAOLA D’AGOSTINO is Director of the Musei del Bargello, a new five museum group put together in Florence after the 2014 reforms.
INDEPENDENT, INCLUSIVE AND INSPIRATIONAL. MARLENE TASCHEN is the CEO of the international publishing house TASCHEN that was founded by her father Benedikt, who is also a collector of contemporary art.
CONNECTING THE WORLD. The sculptor ANTONY GORMLEY is perhaps best known for his large installations in public space. A major exhibition of his work was recently held at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. His next exhibition is at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris Marais.
BUILDING VESSELS OF LIGHT. RENZO PIANO is an Italian architect whose notable buildings include the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, The Shard in London, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens etc. Renzo Piano won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1998. In 2013 he was made a Life Senator in Italy.
AN EYE FOR THE REAL. The London based photographer, filmmaker, and author MARY MCCARTNEY’s photographs have been shown at leading international institutions and galleries. Mary’s editorial work has featured in GQ, Vogue, and The Sunday Times, and she has been a guest editor of National Geographic Magazine. Mary McCartney was selected to take the official photograph of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2015 when she became the longest-reigning British monarch in history.of the French designer Jean Prouvé.
A PASSION FOR PROUVÉ. PATRICK SEGUIN is the founder of Galerie Patrick Seguin in Paris. He has a particular love for the work of the French designer Jean Prouvé.
DISRUPTIVE RESEARCH. FABIOLA GIANOTTI is Director-General of CERN which works to uncover what the universe is made of & how it works by providing particle accelerator facilities.
A COLOURFUL CONVERSATION. Paris based interior designer INDIA MAHDAVI is internationally known for her expressive mix of colours that argue with each other and for her furniture design.
A LAWYER IN KABUL. KIMBERLEY MOTLEY a public defender from Milwaukee trained lawyers in war-torn Afghanistan, then represented prisoners in Afghani courts.
WHAT MATTERS MOST IS NOT THE WHAT BUT THE HOW. The artist DAVID SALLE was born in 1952. He divides his time between his studio in Brooklyn, New York City and his studio in East Hampton, Long Island. His eclectic talent encompasses being a painter, a photographer, a printmaker, a stage designer, and a writer.
GLOBAL ART. The art dealer LARRY GAGOSIAN has evolved his business into a global network of seventeen exhibition spaces with a vibrant contemporary program that features the work of leading international artists.
PRODUCTIONS FOR PRISONERS. WASFI KANI OBE is the founder and CEO of Grange Park Opera and Pimlico Opera, through which she enriches the lives of British prisoners and primary school children by exposure to music.
DOYENNE OF DESIGN. NINA YASHAR founded the famous Nilufar gallery in Milan, the reference point to lovers of historical design as well as to people following the evolution of contemporary design.
MADE FOR ALL. JOHN JAY is the President of Global Creative at Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer and retailer.
THE PRADO AT 200. MIGUEL FALOMIR is director of the Prado Museum in Madrid and is celebrating the Prado’s Bicentenary in 2019 with exhibitions and activities.
THE GENIUS OF LIGHT. Trained as a philosopher and gardener, the Spanish garden designer FERNANDO CARUNCHO began his career 40 years ago and has made private and public projects all over the world. His two sons, Fernando and Pedro, trained as architects and now work with their father, embodying a new generation raised in gardens and brought up in the importance of the connection between landscape, garden, architecture and humankind.
A COLLECTION OF BIOGRAPHY AND HISTORY. NICHOLAS CULLINAN was appointed Director of the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2015.
TO BE BORN MALE IS AN INCURABLE DISEASE. Italian Strega Prize winning author EDOARDO ALBINATI explores male gender identity deeply in his long book ‘The Catholic School’.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FERRAGAMO. PAUL ANDREW is an English fashion designer. In February 2019, Andrew was appointed Creative Director of the globally successful Salvatore Ferragamo brand.
THE INSPIRATION OF HOSPITALITY. ANDRÉ BALAZS and his father co-founded a biotechnology company called Biomatrix in 1988. André started to invest in properties a few years before their successful sale of Biomatrix in 2000, and he now owns and manages a string of high-end hotels. Most are located in historic buildings that he has renovated, including the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles, The Mercer in New York and the Chiltern Firehouse in London.
A LAYERED APPROACH TO LANDSCAPE. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) award winning landscape designer TODD LONGSTAFFE-GOWAN brings to his garden design a sense of the complexities of our relation to the past that is informed by his training and experience as an architect, landscape architect, cultural geographer and historian.
The interview with the distinguished art dealer and philanthropist ANTHONY D’OFFAY takes place in his elegant first-floor office on London’s Dering Street, a historic wood-paneled room where he works with his young assistant. Downstairs is Postcard Teas, a shop selling exquisite rare varieties of teas, which is run by Anthony’s son Timothy and his Japanese wife Asako. At Anthony’s request, a pot of delicious caffeine-free Chinese tea is bought up for us to drink during the interview.
MATTERS OF IMPORTANCE. PETER MANDELSON on Brexit lies, Boris Johnson, the weak & ineffective response of Jeremy Corbyn, anti-Semitism, Northern Ireland, and the EU.
LIONEL BARBER is the Editor of the Financial Times (FT). Since his appointment in 2005, Lionel Barber has helped to transform the Financial Times into a multi-channel global news organization, and during Barber’s editorship, the FT has won many international awards for its journalism.
DAVID SNOWDON is Honorary Chairman, Christie’s EMERI (Europe, Middle East, Russia and India). He is a craftsman who founded the bespoke design, furniture and cabinetry firm LINLEY. His father Antony Armstrong-Jones became the 1st Earl of Snowdon after he married Princess Margaret, the sister of Queen Elizabeth II, and David was styled as Viscount Linley. When his father died in 2017 David Linley became the 2nd Earl of Snowdon.
WE DEFEND INCREDIBLY BRAVE WRITERS WHO RISK EVERYTHING FOR THE TRUTH. JENNIFER CLEMENT is an American-Mexican author whose novels have been translated into 30 languages. In 2015 she was elected the first woman President of PEN International (PEN stands for Poets, Essayists, Novelists), a worldwide association of writers founded in London in 1921 to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere.
THE GREAT TONI MORRISON. Born in 1931 in Lorain, Ohio, TONI MORRISON is a Nobel Prize in Literature winning novelist, an editor, and a teacher. Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988, and Toni Morrison’s novels are known for their epic themes, exquisite language and the richly detailed African-American characters who are central to their narratives. Toni Morrison lives in a sun-filled house by the Hudson River. On a Saturday afternoon Victoire Bourgois and I took a ride 45 minutes up the Hudson River with a driver who had lived his whole life in New York and pointed to us all the different areas of New Jersey, Upstate, Yonkers, Connecticut. When we arrived she greeted us warmly, and when talking about her writing process she said: ‘My desk does not face the river, otherwise I would not do a thing all day but watch the river. Here there is a mixture of salt water and tidal movements and fresh water, because it is so close to New York City.’
FOLLOWING THE GYPSY FAERIE QUEENE. My interview with MARIANNE FAITHFULL took place in her flat on the Boulevard du Montparnasse in Paris on a lovely autumn day in 2018.
ZAHA HADID. The following interview with the architect Zaha Hadid (1950-2016) took place in the Royal Academicians’ Room in the Keeper’s House at the Royal Academy of Arts in London’s Mayfair. The invited audience was generously welcomed by Charles Saumarez Smith, then the Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy.
CONNECTING HUMANS AND NATURE. I interviewed the eminent Japanese architect TADAO ANDO at Château La Coste, the beautiful hotel and vineyard located near Aix-en-Provence, where Ando was opening a show of his drawings in the art centre that he built in 2011. Afterwards, Ando was going on to Paris, as he is restoring and rebuilding the Bourse de Commerce building to become a museum that houses the Pinault Collection.
JULIAN FELLOWES is an English actor, novelist, film director and screenwriter, known for the screenplay for the film Gosford Park and as the creator, writer and executive producer of the multiple award-winning television series Downton Abbey. In this 2015 interview he discusses the characters he develops in Downton Abbey and the sometimes surprising way in which his public responds to them.
DR. MONTEFIORE is a historian of Russia and the Middle East. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has been awarded the Literary Prize Lupicaia del Terriccio 2017 for his book ‘The Romanovs: 1613-1918’. He is the author of ‘Catherine the Great and Potemkin: The Imperial Love Affair’, ‘Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar’, ‘Young Stalin’ and ‘Jerusalem: The Biography’. Also a novelist, he completed his Moscow trilogy in June 2017 with the publication of ‘Red Sky at Noon’.
SUZY MENKES is a leading British journalist and fashion critic. Formerly the fashion editor for the International Herald Tribune at the time of this interview she had been International Fashion Editor for 19 editions of Vogue online.
The leading architect DAVID ADJAYE set up his first office in 1994, where his ingenious use of materials and his sculptural ability established him as an architect with an artist’s sensibility and vision. Adjaye Associates now has four international offices, with projects throughout the world. He is the John C. Portman Design Critic in Architecture at Harvard University and designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
HANIF KUREISHI is the author of novels such as ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’ and ‘Intimacy’, story collections, plays and screenplays. ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’ was made into a BBC TV series with a soundtrack by David Bowie. ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’, a story about a gay Pakistani-British boy growing up in 1980’s London, won the New York Film Critics Best Screenplay Award and an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay. ‘Intimacy’ was loosely adapted in the controversial movie Intimacy that won two Bears at the Berlin Film Festival.
TIMOTHY SNYDER is the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. Most recent of the many books the leading American historian and public intellectual has written is THE ROAD TO UNFREEDOM: RUSSIA, EUROPE, AMERICA. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1997, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. He speaks five and reads ten European languages.
LOYD GROSSMAN is chairman of The Royal Parks of London. The Royal Parks charity supports and manages London’s eight Royal parks, and other important open spaces. Loyd has a long association with the arts and heritage sectors, and is also known for his work on television, MasterChef, and his eponymous cooking sauces.
GEORGE OSBORNE is a British Conservative politician who was a Member of Parliament from 2001 to 2017. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer under David Cameron from 2010 to 2016. When he left politics George Osborne didn’t want to walk away from the national conversation and he has been editor of the London Evening Standard since May 2017. Alain made this interview with him on March 12th at the height of the Brexit debates in parliament and with the UK poised to leave the European Union on March 29th 2019.
THE JOB OF THE ARTIST IS TO MAKE TIME STAND STILL says TRACEY EMIN the renowned British artist as she contemplates her life, saying ”When I am old, even if I can’t walk I still want to be able to work. Everything I have and I do is towards my art. Art is like a wall. You stop and it talks to you. Art is not competing with technology, machinery, spaceships. Art is something else. Art comes from another place. Art never left me. It looks after me financially as well as spiritually, socially, but most importantly I have to remain morally secure.”
A MOMENT OF TRANSITION. MINOUCHE SHAFIK is Director of the LSE, The London School of Economics and Political Science. She was the youngest vice-president in the history of the World Bank where she worked for 15 years, returning to the UK in 2004 as the UK Permanent Secretary of the Department of International Development. In 2011 she became Deputy Managing Director of the IMF and from 2014-2017 was Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. Alain made this interview with Dame Minouche in her office at the LSE in early 2018.
A CHARMED LIFE. The renowned photographer DAVID BAILEY was born in 1938 in East London. His first published portrait was of Somerset Maugham for Today magazine in 1960, and he famously met the supermodel Jean Shrimpton while he was at Vogue. Since then Bailey has made many iconic images of legendary and diverse personalities, including Queen Elizabeth II, the Rolling Stones, Mother Teresa, the Kray twins, Damien Hirst, Desmond Tutu and Kate Moss. Bailey provided the inspiration behind Antonioni’s 1966 mystery-thriller Blow-Up and is still working. Alain and he made this highly entertaining interview in Bailey’s studio in December 2018, just a few days before his 81st birthday.