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The Questionnaire : Charles Zana by Carole Schmitz


In permanent search of inspiration

 Born in Tunisia, Charles Zana grew up in Paris. At the age of 19, he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris to study architecture. With his diploma in hand, he left for New York where he perfected his knowledge in various architecture and design studios. Back in Paris, he created his own agency, Charles Zana Architects in 1990. His vision is that of an art lover and collector. His curiosity is insatiable and his enthusiasm inexhaustible. His style is chic but never flashy. As a true conductor, he exercises his different talents in France as well as abroad and always surrounds himself with the best, whether they are high-voltage craftsmen, experienced lighting designers or first-rate landscape designers. He likes to twist the classics with a touch of modernity and emotion, taking over the space for each new projects before revisiting them with elegance. His universe is poetic and reflects his demanding taste for the harmony of materials, colors and volumes while letting his creativity speak for itself. His key words: luxury, culture, heritage and transmission of exceptional know-how.

His agency, on the rue de Seine, frequently hosts exhibitions organized with “friendly” art galleries, but also personal tributes. If, under the impetus of his father, who was a collector, he became interested in art at a very young age, not really in contemporary art at the time, but more the impressionists, surrealists and pre-war movements. Today, a lover of art in all its forms and a great collector of Sottsass pieces, Charles Zana is also very interested in photography, of which he talks about today,  answering our weekly “Questionnaire”.


Website :

Instagram : charles_zana


Your first photographic trigger ?

Charles Zana : The vacation pictures taken by my father.


The person of images who inspires you?

Charles Zana : Tina Modotti, her journey, her independence, her commitment, the dazzling nature of her career, her revolutionary side. The pictures she made may seem academic but, for me, they are iconic.


If you were a photographer, what is the image you would have liked to make? 

Charles Zana : The kiss at City Hall, Robert Doisneau, 1950.


The one that moved you the most? 

Charles Zana : Tina Modotti, An Aztec baby, 1924-27.


And the one that made you angry?

Charles Zana: Abdel Abdessemed, I am innocent, 2012.


A key image in your personal pantheon 

Charles Zana: Philippe Ramette, Socles à réflexion, 1989.


In your opinion, what is the necessary quality to be a good photographer?

Charles Zana: The eye, as Proust says “The sole, the true, the only journey is to change vision”.


 What is a perfect image for you? 

Charles Zana : Sugimoto Hiroshi, Satellite City Towers, 2002.


The person you would dream of photographing?

Charles Zana: James Bond.


An indispensable photo book?

Charles Zana : François Halard, The ruins of Baalbek.


Your first camera?

Charles Zana : A Polaroid.


The one you use today?

Charles Zana : A Leica that was just offered to me, a dream !


Your favorite drug ?

Charles Zana : Collecting, tracking like a hunter the missing piece to my puzzle.


The best way to disconnect for you ?

Charles Zana : Traveling.


Your greatest quality ?

Charles Zana : My curiosity.


An image to illustrate a new banknote?

Charles Zana : Richard Prince, Untitled (Cowboy), 2001.


The job you would not have liked to do?

Charles Zana : Banker.


Your greatest professional extravagance?

Charles Zana : Starting over the day before delivering a project.


The city, the country or the culture you would like to discover ?

Charles Zana : Rajasthan.


The place you never get tired of?

Charles Zana: Carlo Mollino’s house in Turin, Italy.


Your biggest regret?

Charles Zana: No regrets but hopes.


Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok or Snapchat?

Charles Zana: Instagram.


Color or B&W?

Charles Zana: It depends on the subject, the format, the signature. I like the B&W of Mapplethorpe and Hiroshi Sugimoto, the color of William Eggleston or Louise Lawler. It’s all about light!


Daylight or artificial light?

Charles Zana: Daylight, always.


Which do you think is the most photogenic city?

Charles Zana : There are two for me, New York & Rome.


If God existed, would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him?

Charles Zana: A selfie with him.


The image that represents for you the current state of the world?

Charles Zana: Cindy Sherman’s iconic black and white untitled film still.


What is missing in today’s world?

Charles Zana: Culture. To go towards more education to better share knowledge and resources.


And if everything had to be redone?

Charles Zana : I would do the same.


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