Artist and designer Es Devlin recently joined TED2019 to explore her iconic stage sculptures and upcoming work for Expo 2020 Dubai. Creating works for Beyoncé, Adele, Kanye West, U2 and more, Devlin is known for creating large-scale performative sculptures and environments that fuse music, language and light. Her TED Talk highlights a visual journey of Devlin's work to illustrate her incredible creative process.
Kanye West: The Latest Architecture and News
American light and space artist James Turrell's best-known work, Roden Crater, is now set to open to the public within the next few years thanks to a series of partnerships and new funding. Part of the additional funds includes a $10 million donation from Kanye West that would allow the project to expand and open within the next five years. Only a small group of people have experienced the crater, and the new funding will jump-start the updated master plan, which includes a restaurant, visitor’s center, cabins, and a "light-spa."
Kanye West is, according to Kanye West, a reformed man. After months of making headlines over his bizarre political views, he stated on Wednesday that, “my eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in. I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative !!!”
While this most likely means a return to his music career, this statement could also indicate a renewed interest in his design projects. The rapper’s interest in architecture is more than just a passing one; he’s collaborated with noted architects such as Jacques Herzog and Rem Koolhaas and has declared on multiple occasions his desire for everything to be “architected.”
Designer Amaory B. Portorreal has produced a series of illustrations depicting houses inspired by the music of Kanye West. The series is in response to the hip-hop artist’s recent announcement that he would be launching a new architecture venture focusing on low-income housing.
More than a commentary on West’s interactions with architecture, the series presents an intriguing example of the connection between music and architecture, transitioning from a lyrical, melodic art form to one based on space and materiality.
About a month before he unveiled his eighth album Ye in June, Kanye West re-entered architectural conversation with the unexpected and mostly unexplained announcement that he intends to hire architects and industrial designers to staff an architecture practice connected to his Yeezy brand. An outspoken fan and admirer of contemporary architecture, Kanye’s fashion and design projects have been a major focus for him since shortly after the prodigious producer started making his own rap albums. Kanye’s architectural ambitions have been an interesting factor in the relationship between architecture and rap culture, which seems to be just coming into focus through programs like the Hip Hop Architecture Camps organized by Michael Ford’s Urban Arts Collective, and the research of Sekou Cooke. Architecture and rap music have influenced each other in ways we’re just starting to notice—with the connection between the two even revealed as consciously and conspicuously as rappers including references to notable architects in their lyrics.
A month after Kanye West announced his intention to open an architecture venture, at the time named Yeezy Home, off the back of his fashion brand, it seems we may have the first glimpse of the type of buildings the rapper is hoping to create. Yesterday Jalil Peraza, a previous collaborator with West's design company DONDA and designer of the "Face Modules" pop-up retail concept, posted two images to his Instagram showing a building render alongside the caption "Low income housing scheme, made of prefabricated concrete in collaboration with Petra Kustrin, Jalil Peraza, Kanye West, Nejc Skufca."
Since the publication of “Keep Talking Kanye: An Architect’s Defense of Kanye West” I have become an unwilling Kanye apologist. Each time he produces music that tempts us to use the moniker “creative genius” he quickly follows with an interview or tweet that makes him look like anything but. Invariably thereafter, a chain of text messages and emails with titles like “just to irritate you” or “come get your boy” begin to flood my inbox. My standard response is often no different from SNL’s Michael Che on Weekend Update: when presented with a headshot of Kanye and the caption “slavery was a choice” the comedian shakes his head and states simply, “Pass!” However, now that Kanye has once again entered the sphere of architectural discourse with a proposed new endeavor called “Yeezy Home” I am compelled to intervene once again with a more direct “put up or shut up” message.
On Sunday evening, rapper Kanye West took to Twitter to announce the creation of a new architecture wing for his popular Yeezy company. With “Yeezy Home,” West is “looking for architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better,” leading to a flurry of speculation, excitement—and a certain amount of ridicule—across the online world.
Whether or not you welcome the news, or believe it will be realized, there is undoubtedly an interesting relationship between West and architecture which merits exploration, and which may provide clues as to Yeezy Home’s future, if indeed it has one. With that in mind, we dive into three questions: How likely is Yeezy Home to happen? What might the architecture of Yeezy Home look like? And how can architects get involved?
Interiors is an Online Publication about the space between Architecture and Film, published by Mehruss Jon Ahi and Armen Karaoghlanian. Interiors runs an exclusive column for ArchDaily that analyzes and diagrams films in terms of space.
Kanye West followed up his demented masterpiece Yeezus with an art project—an album never officially released, never officially completed, and one that is continuously being revised and restructured. It’s a continuous work in progress, a painting that’s never finished, which has evolved before our eyes (known by many titles including So Help Me God, Swish, Waves, until finally settling on the anachronistic The Life of Pablo).
It’s no wonder then that The Saint Pablo Tour, which kicked off in Indianapolis on August 25th, 2016 and is tentatively scheduled to end in Brooklyn on December 31st, 2016, feels unlike anything Kanye West has done before, while staying true to his creative vision. If 2013’s Yeezus Tour was an operatic experience that was more about the performance aspect, 2016’s Saint Pablo Tour is an active experience that is more about creating a Disneyesque attraction.
What do Ice Cube, the members of Pink Floyd, and Seal have in common with fashion icon Tom Ford and former president Thomas Jefferson? They all studied architecture. Perhaps a representation of the diversity of talents in architecture studios, household names like Samuel L. Jackson and Courteney Cox found their footing as students of architecture prior to reaching success in other fields.
We've put together a list of some of the most unexpected names gracing the yearbooks of architecture schools from around the world, including the likes of Queen Noor of Jordan and George Takei of Star Trek fame. Discover "Weird Al" Yankovic's true (architectural) passions after the break.
"For the most part, the way urbanists view black neighborhoods (and other low-income neighborhoods and communities of color) are as problems that need to be fixed. At the heart of what I want to say is what can we as urbanists learn from these neighborhoods?" So asks Sara Zewde, a landscape architecture student at Harvard's Graduate School of Design and this year's Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Olmsted Scholar, in a fascinating profile on Metropolis Magazine. Read more about Zewde and her work here.
Interiors is an online film and architecture journal, published by Mehruss Jon Ahi and Armen Karaoghlanian. Interiors runs an exclusive column for ArchDaily that analyzes and diagrams films in terms of space. Their Official Store will carry exclusive prints from these posts.
The Yeezus Tour, Kanye West’s solo tour, which coincides with his sixth studio album, Yeezus, kicked off in Seattle, Washington on October 19, 2013 and ends in Toronto, Canada on December 23, 2013.
The show is theatrical, cinematic and operatic in its structure. It merges together all of Kanye West’s interests in the the visual and performance arts, creating a powerful experience that transcends the concert format.
In her article for BlouinArtInfo, Janelle Zara wittily recounts her experience at an architecture event in which 70% of the audience left before the night's end. The event? A talk, held last week in Miami’s Design District, between Kanye West and Pritzker laureate Jacque Herzog. Despite the audience's clear lack of interest, Zara insists the skippers missed quite the conversation: "Herzog’s half of the conversation lent it its gravitas; Kanye’s token Westisms provided the candy-coated sprinkles on top." Read the full post here.
Los Angeles-based cinematographer Tomas Koolhaas is nearing completion of his highly anticipated film, REM. The feature length documentary, which focuses on the work of Tomas’ famed father, Rem Koolhaas, is the first architectural film to “comprehensively explore the human conditions in and around Rem Koolhaas' buildings from a ground level perspective.” Rather than lifeless still shots and long-winded, intellectual discourse, REM exposes the one thing that gives each building function and purpose: how it is used by people.
So far, REM has been funded entirely by grants. However, in order for Tomas to collect the necessary funds to complete post-production, he has turned to you by launching a Kickstarter campaign.
Watch REM's official trailer above, which follows a parkour expert as he moves through the Casa De Musica in Porto, and follow us after the break for Tomas’ exclusive interview with Kanye West, who comments on his work with OMA at the 2012 Cannes film festival.
When Kanye West spoke with students at my alma mater on Sunday evening, he said “I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be ‘architected.’” In the social media frenzy that followed, a recurring response that I saw on architecture-centric sites was to snicker at West’s use of the word “architect” as a verb. For many, this was symbolic of West’s ignorance and hubris as he presumed to talk about something without knowing anything.
Except, of course, that “architect” is well recognized as a verb. Dictionaries say so, architects say so, and academics say so. If you’re architect Doug Patt and call yourself howtoarchitect on YouTube, you get a contract from MIT Press to write a book—called How to Architect. If you are the French philosopher Louis Marin, you can suggest that “the castle and gardens of Versailles ‘architect’ the Prince to make him not only the absolute of political power, but the center of the cosmos in its entirety,” and you will be counted among the most eminent semioticians of the twentieth century. If you are Harvard architecture theorist K. Michael Hays, you might stand up at an academic conference and say, “There are only certain things that can be done at this moment. Not just anything can be architected at this moment, right? There are limits.” When you do, people will nod and applaud.
But if you are Kanye West and you suggest that “everything needs to actually be ‘architected,’” it disqualifies you to speak about architecture.
UPDATE: The Harvard GSD AASU has released a statement on Kanye West's invitation and visit, which you can find at the end of the post. Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the GSD, has also commented on the visit.
Kanye West surprised students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) last night by dropping in un-announced before his Sunday night concert at the TD Garden in Boston. He gave a short motivational speech to the crowd that quickly formed in the GSD’s signature “trays.” West told the students:
I just wanted to tell you guys: I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be “architected.” [...] I believe that utopia is actually possible—but we’re led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political. So in no way am I a politician—I’m usually at my best politically incorrect and very direct. I really appreciate you guys’ willingness to learn and hone your craft, and not be lazy about creation.
GSD student Sekou Cooke, writer of "Keep Talking Kanye: An Architect's Defense of Kanye West," confirmed to an ArchDaily editor that West had in fact seen his post defending West's right to speak-up about architectural issues and act as a role model for young potential architects of color. Although his visit with the student body was unexpected, West had been invited by Harvard GSD's African American Student Union (AASU). Following a meeting with the AASU’s core group of leaders—during which West led a conversation regarding under-represented minorities in the design disciplines—the star was inspired to briefly address the rest of the students. West also gifted 300 tickets to his show to the GSD. In fact, in an uncharacteristic moment of insecurity, West told the crowd of students:
Tonight, this show, if you come see it—um, I’m a bit self conscious because I’m showing it to architects. So the stage does have flaws in it. It’s an expression of emotion so give me a pass on that.
See images and video of West's GSD visit, after the break...
I may be in the minority among my peers, but I want Kanye West to keep talking. Despite the many who despise, disparage or dismiss him—unwilling or unable to properly digest what he’s saying, consuming bite-sized quotes and late-night parodies instead of engaging him in intellectual discourse—I want him to keep talking.
As a black man and an architect (one of about 2,000 in this country who can claim membership to both those groups), I am particularly cognizant of the Truman Show wall that exists between architects and recognition, and between black architects and acceptance. West's recent interview with Zane Lowe administered reflections on design, architecture and the creative process in a dosage too high for most to swallow. I am tripping over myself with fear and excitement at the prospect of having such a powerful mouthpiece for a generation of black architects and designers who share his frustration and connect with his message.
Why? Because when Kanye West talks, people listen.
An OMA-designed temporary pavilion at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival was inaugurated today with a screening of Kanye West’s debut short film Cruel Summer. The pavilion, with a design led by Shohei Shigematsu, is a raised pyramid containing a seven-screen cinema invented by West’s creative team, Donda.
Continue after the break for more.