Villa Lena — For those who do not know you, can you give us a little information about yourself and the types of projects and work you do?
Anabel Vázquez — When I had to decide what was I going to write on my business cards, I wrote, ‘I do a lots of things’! As I was totally unable to find one single word to describe all the different things I am engaged in. It is true, that communication permeates all the projects which I get involved in. However, I have a very complex and heterodox profile.
Many years ago, I believed it was a problem to have such a diverse profile, but with time I have come to realise it is actually a great advantage.
Therefore, I am a journalist who has always worked in the world of communication, as part of a museum like the MOMA or as part of a fashion brand like Loewe. On the other hand, I own a beauty e-commerce business Laconicum, which communicates cosmetics in a different way and attempts to transcend the basic discourse. I want to create a brand where women feel comfortable and confident with their skin. Finally, I also do brand and communication consultancy for well-known brands in Spain. Moreover,
I am currently writing a book on swimming pools, that is the reason which brought me to Villa Lena.
VL — What are the three essential things that you always pack when traveling abroad?
AV- I always travel with relaxing tea bags and I try not to breakout of my daily routines, as my life would be very messy with all the travelling I do. If I am currently reading a book, I take it with me, same with tv series. Books are always essential for me!
VL -What is the greatest teaching of having founded Laconicum?
AV- I would say that you have to be willing to learn continuously, as what you may know today may not be useful for a month from here. Moreover it taught me to be super flexible and also unlearn many things, as well as the importance of having a good business partner!
VL- What beauty product do you always travel with?
AV- I always travel with a hair mask, because I can use any shampoo but I feel like a mask always fixes everything. Also a good cleanser and an anti-dark circles.
VL — What is special about Villa Lena and its location within Tuscany?
AV — Villa Lena is the perfect example of a remote place, with all that this entails. Here we can easily connect with the environment and make the most of the lack of distractions. I believe it is very interesting to enjoy how easy we get used to remoteness. It is beautiful to see how easy you forget of your necessities, like shopping or else. It is a place which is totally self-sufficient. It immediately puts you in a different reality, it only took me around three hours to adapt to it’s slowness.
Villa Lena is definitely the perfect place to disconnect from every day noise and reconnect with oneself.
VL — What are your three favourite things to do in Villa Lena on a weekend getaway?
AV- I would totally highlight the different spots available throughout the hotel for reading and the two exterior swimming pools with their breathtaking views over rural Tuscany. Finally, I really enjoy the silence and calm which you can experience in the hotel rooms. Also the communal hotel spaces, such as the Fattoria living room by the fireplace or the St Michele terrace are great to enjoy some reading time.
VL- What book would you bring to Villa Lena?
AV -Actually the current book I have been reading here, which is a ‘Field Guide to Getting Lost-‘ written by Rebecca Solnit. The book has a lot to do with the ability and willingness of each of us to getting lost and how you go from one place to another depending on this.
VL -Why did you create an Instagram of swimming pools? What makes a pool so special?
AV -Swimming pools relate with the moment in which people disconnect and they evade the noise from everyday life. It is a moment of stillness, reconnection and even contemplation.
My instagram is the reflection of my obsession for swimming pools. It started during my childhood, however, until recently I had not engaged it from an investigation perspective. Thanks to my different jobs and as a journalist, I have been able to travel extensively.
As a matter of fact, my eyes always moved towards the swimming pool. This is when I decided to collect a lot of information and compile a database of swimming pools. Interestingly, it is something which people are very interested in too, which lead me to create an instagram account to share it with everyone. It connects people with a very happy place. It also serves me as a visual diary, instead of having all the pictures on the computer drive. I believe instagram is amazing to share content and places with people, it is about sharing your generous tips with your community.
The San Michele Pool at Villa Lena, Photo by Gina Spinelli
VL — What is the most special pool you have been to?
AV -I have been to many incredible swimming pools, but this summer I visited one in the outside of Porto in Matosinhos. The Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza, designed them in 1966. They consist of several public swimming pools which are totally integrated into the rocks and are filled with sea water. They are a beautiful example of the meeting between man and nature.
In terms of hotel swimming pools, I really like the ones in Morocco riads, also the ones from the Miami motels. In general, I feel attracted to small, intimate and humble swimming pools.
VL -Which three things do you like to buy when you travel?
AV — Ceramics, generally in the form of a small bowl or cup. Cosmetics such as a candle, a local soap or even a perfume. A notebook or a magazine I also enjoy buying, something involving paper.
Photo by Gina Spinelli
VL — What is the greatest lesson of having worked at the MOMA?
AV — The MOMA taught me to relativize. I remember my manager constantly told us; ‘don’t worry, they are only paintings’. It was incredible how they resisted importance to the paintings in the most important museum in the world. This experience taught me to always place work correctly. You have to reduce all the drama.
VL -How do you think the current global situation has shifted our way of working and living? How do you think the whole issue of social networks will evolve?
AV — The way of working has evolved, I think forever. I believe that now, being able to work remotely provides power to the worker, which is very important.
Villa Lena is the perfect place from which to be able to work remotely in a peaceful and quiet place.
I believe that each generation has its own ways of communicating. I think there will come a time when we are at the saturation limit and we will pay no attention to it. It will become like television, which is so integrated into our life. However, social media has provided us with the possibility of sharing many perspectives and connecting with many interesting people.
VL — How would you describe Villa Lena in one sentence?
A place that is very far from the world, so that you can be very close to yourself.
Photo by Sasa Stucin
Anabel Vázquez is based in Madrid, more info can be found about about her here, She was part of the Villa Lena Foundation Residency in 2021.