Helen sits down, her arms neatly rested on the table. The story she is about to tell is the catalyst for what spans these pages. For the following 34 unique stories held between your hands, it all began with one idea. Slow Luxury. Curated with a careful eye, Slow Luxury has been adapted by Helen to create one very unique magazine. A special edition that, in all its detail, might be more aptly referred to as a book – if you so choose. This is a collection of 34 handpicked stories of people on Mallorca who are local, passionate and most of all, integral to its uniqueness. And this is the story of how it all came into being. This is Slow Luxury by Dr Helen Cummins.
We meet Helen in her abcMallorca office where embroidered cushions corner ruby red chairs. A cup and saucer sit to her side in which a quintessentially Irish formality pervades. “So tell us, where did the idea of Slow Luxury come from?” A pause lingers. She outlines a 10 month spell of researching before confirming that it all started several years back. “I’ve known for a long time that the idea of materialism and consumerism in luxury is over.” Her eyes widen, recalling an “emptiness” that arose from perpetual buying. “It was always more, more, more” she says, reeling off expensive cars, bags and shoes. “And then I realised that it just wasn’t making us happy.” She opens her palms, questioning the role of material worth and its effect on our mental health. “How can we find happiness without being focused on buying or consuming something?” We anticipate her answer. “Slow Luxury” she says – curling a smile – “is instead, all around the idea of experience.”
We talk of a mantra to Slow Luxury, and Helen flicks to a page in her notebook folded over at the corner. She reads:
“Life must not only be lived; it must be enjoyed. It must be wholeheartedly embraced. It must be worth it.”
She smiles, reflecting how on Mallorca in particular, this idea of a “wholeheartedly embraced” life rings true. She highlights the island’s slower pace, and how – through its passion for artisan produce – has been the pinnacle to this Slow Luxury magazine. She clarifies that the more local the product, the more unique the experience is. “You have to go local if you want to offer unique. In luxury terms I think it is logical that a place like Mallorca honours its heritage.” We turn to the people featured in the following pages who cherish this heritage, and Helen’s tone changes. Each story evokes a heart-felt response, which over the course of 34 individual accounts is an emotional journey. The chef Santi Taura springs up, who Helen calls the “forefather of Slow Food” through his Mallorcan cooking, and then again Slow Design with Ulf Bernström who collaborates with Mallorcan basket-weavers. The list goes on as Mallorca’s most refined designers, chefs, hoteliers, architects, carpenters (and so on) spring up uniquely and individually for their talented work. With every page turned, Helen gestures to a person that creates, makes, changes and inspires on Mallorca. She refers to this magazine as being “infused with action”, of doing something with passion, and not for money, but for the love of it. Her happiness swells as she places her hand on the Slow Luxury cover, proud of its poignant message. “The money is secondary. No-one [in their interviews] has sat up and said ‘I’m going to get rich and therefore I’ll do this’. They had a dream, a passion and they do it because they love it.”
Helen scans the following pages, drifting her fingers over the black and white photos. Her eyes travel lines of shadow and tone, passionate about a magazine so different from her usual abcMallorca editions. Quite distinctly, this special edition focuses on the rawness of the person, which Helen reveals was essential to capturing the authenticity of Slow Luxury. The style of text and photographs have been focused solely on detail which – given the breadth of interviewing – was not always an easy task. “There was a real effort to uncover and to go as deep as we could to capture the essence of what makes that person or business successful” Helen remarks. She talks of the cleverness in her writers and photographer who would build a story from one unique cornerstone. For example, from a wellspring of features at the new hotel El Llorenç, Magnus Ehrland’s unique star pattern was given the limelight. Or rather, instead of glossing over Lionsgate Capital, a personal experience was portrayed by their clients. Smooth branding and polished slogans were never considered right for the project, as Helen presses that the objective was to always listen to the individual and then be guided by their character.
Using her morning’s commute as an analogy, Helen recalls driving through the vineyards of Lloseta, which she explains is what sits at the heart of this magazine: “that feeling of Mallorca.” There is a warmth to her descriptions as she takes us to a place of leafy green rows, caramel undergrowth and blue skies. We release a profound sigh at this Mallorcan tranquility and Helen pinpoints our reaction, anticipating a similar response from her Slow Luxury readers. She plucks a reader from London or Berlin, who – perhaps with a second home on the island – craves that feeling of Mallorca. “That was the aim” her arms now stretched out wide. “To create the feeling you would having sitting among the vines sipping a glass of local wine.” She flicks to the pages of designer Aline Matsika and we’re pulled into Palacio Can Marques’ tropical garden. It is tangible and touchable, just like we are sat chatting with Aline. We circle this idea back to the mantra of Slow Luxury, of the enjoyment in experiencing something “wholeheartedly embraced” and Helen agrees. “That’s the readership in the end, this project is for people who care. People who are curious and want to know more.” She gets up to look out of her window, which overlooks the cobbled street of Sant Jaume. “It’s all about getting a step closer to what the real Mallorca is all about. It’s about feeling like you belong here.”
Photos by Sara Savage