Wallpaper – May 2022

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Wallpaper Magazine – one of the leading monthly guide in design, architecture and fashion.

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Opening the doors to architecturally significant homes has been part of Wallpaper’s worldwide mission since issue one. But rarely do we feature a home belonging to a titan of the entertainment industry. Our newsstand cover star this month is a happy exception. For our annual Design Issue, I am delighted to present Casa Aire, the Medellín home of reggaeton superstar J Balvin, designed by local architecture studio 5 Sólidos.

Perched high up in the clouds, with panoramic views of Colombia’s emerald hills and pristine waters, Casa Aire occupies a superlative site that befits its owner. Balvin is one of the biggest names in Latin music, his 2017 hit ‘Mi Gente’ receiving more than three billion YouTube views, while fashion team-ups with Louis Vuitton, Supreme and Prada, and playful collaborations with SpongeBob SquarePants and Takashi Murakami, place him at the forefront of contemporary culture.

One might expect Casa Aire to be a shrine to this considerable success; instead, it is characterised by geometric lines, calming green hues and elegant planting. In Balvin’s words, the house is ‘zero flex’: ‘It’s not about showing off, it’s about creating something with nature. It’s balance, peace and inspiration.’ Understated while uplifting, Casa Aire is not only a sure-footed reflection of its owner and architect, but also a lesson in taking a back seat to the wonders of nature. In telling its story, it has been a joy to work with Balvin, his manager Fabio Acosta, and two of our long-time contributors, photographer Stefan Ruiz and writer Rainbow Nelson.

True to Wallpaper* form, the issue takes in creative highlights across multiple continents: our round-up of the most outstanding outdoor furniture was shot on the rocky shores of Livorno by the legendary Massimo Vitali, while our main fashion story saw photographer Zachary Handley and stylist Benoit Martinengo invite surfers in Dakar to take the season’s finest menswear for a ride. We also speak to Tadao Ando about his latest project in Naoshima, Yinka Shonibare about his artists’ residency space outside Lagos, and Elmgreen & Dragset about their major solo exhibition at Milan’s Fondazione Prada. We call on Dries Van Noten in Antwerp to discover his first foray into beauty products, discuss cultural placemaking in China with Beijing-based practice Open Architecture, and celebrate Danish design icon Bodil Kjær’s timeless creations as she enters her tenth decade.

A special thank-you goes to designer, artist and architect Ron Arad, who created the issue’s limited-edition cover featuring a crushed Fiat 500 – a recurring motif in his artistic practice that now takes centre stage in ‘Reverse Again’, his first NFT drop, in partnership with curatorial platform Shifting Vision. In a brave new world awash with hastily produced jpegs intended for rapid consumption, it is heartening to know that Arad’s cover artwork, also titled Reverse Again, was painstakingly hand-painted on his tablet, a testament to the enduring power of the artist’s hand. Enjoy the issue!

Bill Prince
Acting Editor-in-Chief

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