Introducing the May 2021 Design Issue of Wallpaper*
Welcome to our Design Issue. While in-person gatherings of the international design community, in Milan and beyond, may still be months away, there’s a host of launches that leave us eager with excitement. Showcasing the unflagging creativity of designers around the world, this issue is a celebration of the inspiring ideas, exhibitions and products to come.
The legendary Hella Jongerius gives us an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of her upcoming solo show at Berlin’s Gropius Bau, which explores experimental weaving techniques, and graces our limited-edition subscriber cover. The show includes live elements: among them a participatory installation inviting visitors to spin a yarn from recycled textile waste, and four looms working in tandem to create large-scale, 3D-woven objects. This is a masterclass in pushing traditional craft techniques to new heights, memorably captured for Wallpaper* by local photographer Dan Ipp.
In New York, we visit the new premises of art and design gallery Salon 94 on the famous Museum Mile. The six-storey neo-Renaissance building on the Upper East Side, built a century ago as an extension to an aristocratic couple’s residence, has now opened its doors to the public following a thoughtful makeover by Rafael Viñoly. As our New York editor Pei-Ru Keh observes, this ambitious flagship location is also a symbol of hope, bringing with it the conviction of a full cultural recovery.
In LA, we call on designer Sander Lak, who has turned his attention to interior textiles following the much-lamented closure of his Sies Marjan clothing label. He has created three wool fabrics in a joyfully eclectic palette of 150 colours, with inspirations as wide-ranging as plant life and the visual identities of quintessentially American brands such as McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.
We salute the return of one of fashion’s greatest talents, Alber Elbaz, whose new AZ Factory label offers ‘meticulously designed, hard-working clothing that will transcend trends’, delivering practicality and style in equal measure. We tasked the great Bruce Gilden with shooting Elbaz over Zoom, an experience the Magnum photographer enjoyed so much that he is now exploring a new remote portrait series involving more designers.
For our blockbuster profile of the fastest-rising star in architecture, Counterspace’s Sumayya Vally, we asked her to take artist and photographer Mikhael Subotzky around Johannesburg, their adopted hometown. Journeying from the landmark Ponte City skyscraper, to a trade hub for the Ethiopian and Eritrean diaspora, to a mine dump in the city’s periphery, and a dinner club for new African cuisine, they show how the evolving urban landscape has shaped Vally’s practice. It’s a full-circle moment for Vally, who earlier in her career had researched Subotzky’s archive to understand the lives of migrants, and whose upcoming Serpentine Pavilion celebrates the gatherings of peripheral communities.
A spirit of urban exploration is likewise evident in our main fashion story, which sees a cast of models step into the streets and green spaces of Paris, reflecting our shared desire to once again go beyond the confines of our homes. That sense of anticipation and measured optimism has been perfectly conveyed by photographer Alexandre Guirkinger, a long-time contributor whose first major commission for Wallpaper* was a 2007 Architecture Icon story on Claude Parent (W*161).
Finally, it wouldn’t be a Design Issue without a double helping of interiors stories: the ever brilliant London-based photographer Leandro Farina brings his flair for brutalist architecture to our edit of the season’s standout lighting pieces, which also features on our newsstand cover; while Barcelona design studio Six N Five presents visions of outdoor furniture in alluring desert landscapes that has us yearning for an exotic escape.
Enjoy the issue!