LIVING SANTA with Alai Zimmermann
Alai Zimmermann lives and works in Menorca, where she’s lived for most of her life.
Following a beautiful narrative that seems to repeat itself often in this day and age,
she eventually decided to leave the city life to return to her home in Menorca and
reconnect with nature. A florist and cook, she also runs the estate where she lives
together with her mother. We speak to her about her life in nature and her
relationship to the elements that make up her practice.
Where are you writing from?
I’m writing from my van in Menorca. My view is the sunset at Binimel-la beach.
Today I escaped from home to write this interview. Sometimes I need to watch the
sea to relax and reset. I live in a country estate in Menorca run by my mother and me.
How would you describe your job?
I’d say my job is to create beauty and food in a conscious, respectful way.
My intention is to express the importance of organic materials and foods in a subtle and
simple way. I feel a personal connection to nature, and I want to coexist with it in a coherent way.
“I’d say my job is to create beauty and food in a conscious, respectful way. I feel a personal connection to nature and I want to coexist with it in a coherent way.”
Have you always lived in Menorca?
I came back eight years ago. Before that, I lived in Berlin for five years, and in Barcelona for four years. I lived in the island as a kid, but when I became a teenager, my needs began to change. I needed to fly, to know. For some years, I traveled and experienced things. Until I felt the need to stop, to slow down, to return. It wasn’t easy at first but after some time I managed to adapt and create my own world.
Natural elements are such an important part of your life and work. How did this connection to nature begin?
I was born here in Menorca, and I grew up in this estate. Living here with my parents was a solitary life that encouraged me to create a strong bond between myself and the flora around me, the wilderness. I’ve always been in nature; I’ve always felt a part of it. As a child, in my moments of boredom, I would go outside and collect organic elements, treasures, little flowers that kept changing with the seasons.
“I’ve always been in nature, I’ve always felt a part of it. As a child, in my moments of boredom, I would go outside and collect organic elements, treasures, little flowers that kept changing with the seasons.”
How do you choose the elements you pick and work with in your arrangements?
When I get out of the house, my radar turns on and catches everything that feels somehow interesting. Shape, colour and texture are important to me. I begin with my own greenery and then I move outside of our land if I feel that something is missing. Right now, I am actually trying to harvest flowers in order to become self-sufficient. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Have you taken any decisions in favour of a calmer, slower, more conscious lifestyle?
My parents raised me in a very conscious way. They tried to not use any plastic, to recycle, to harvest and buy organic fruit and vegetables. At some point in my life, I felt a need for the exact opposite: city life, anonymity, noise, concerts, culture, hustle and bustle. And for a few years I lived that way. I met people from all over the world. But, after some time, I started getting tired of the city. In Berlin, I did an internship at a social biodynamic garden. I needed a change, so I got into permaculture and I started thinking of returning to the island in order to be closer to my parents and nature. And I did.
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