Welcome to the 20th anniversary issue of Wallpaper* – at 508 pages, our biggest issue ever. What a change there has been over those 20 years. Back in the dark ages of 1996, ‘design’ was still largely considered a last-minute bolt-on, a perfunctory styling job. We now begin with design and the world is a better-designed place.
Throughout this issue we celebrate the people (and products and places) who have transformed our world – and their own – over the past two decades. 1996 was certainly something of a springboard year. It was the year Jony Ive took charge of Apple’s design team. It was the year Raf Simons held his first solo menswear show and Elon Musk started his first company, Zip2 Corporation. Peter Zumthor produced his landmark work, the Therme Vals, and SANAA completed its first project, the S-House in Okayama. Ian Schrager opened the Mondrian Los Angeles, designed by Philippe Starck. Larry Page and his Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, began collaborating on their first search engine. 1996 also produced one of the greatest Dom Pérignon vintages and it was the year Victoria Beckham (as one fifth of the Spice Girls) burst onto the stage with Wannabe.
It was the year that Tom Ford was in full swing at Gucci and had created a look, a lifestyle of the moment. In 1996, Gucci sales increased by 90 per cent. No wonder, then, that the Gucci look dominated the first cover of Wallpaper*. Significantly, it was Ford who recruited a young Alessandro Michele to the label in 2002 and it is Michele who, now creative director, has totally revitalised the brand. Fittingly, it’s his (very different) Gucci look that again graces our cover, 20 years on.
Of course, it’s no normal cover (we don’t do ‘normal’). Of all the game-changers we celebrate in this issue, there is one standout – Thomas Heatherwick – and we asked him to do something outstanding with our anniversary cover. His design is a textbook example of the Heatherwick approach: a low-tech but joyous piece of paper engineering to create a simple but total transformation. As you fold, squash and stretch your Wallpaper* Friction Cover, consider that you’re holding one of the smallest and most intricate projects to come out of the Heatherwick Studio. He thinks it’s a true return to the surprise and delight conjured up by his earliest works back in 1996. In our profile he tells us that today, with a studio of around 200 and working on some of the world’s largest architecture projects, keeping this level of focus is hard work. ‘You need endurance and perseverance.’ We couldn’t agree more, Thomas. Here’s to the next 20 years!
As originally featured in the October 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*211)