Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s summer 1996 and in a small design studio in Vienna the first, freshly designed pages of a soon-to-launch magazine are being pinned on a wall. Art director Herbert Winkler is selecting pictures, playing with cover concepts and smoking non-stop. On a nearby desk, a copy of The New York Times is open to a page with a report about a curious new title that will soon hit newsstands. Back in London, where the magazine is based, ad pages (Gucci, Versace, The Gap and many more) are being shipped to the printer in Austria, while the £100,000 that’s been raised for this venture is dwindling fast. Can we pay the paper bill? The courier costs? And will there be enough money for a party?
A few days later, on a sunny morning in early September, the first issue of Wallpaper* hit newsstands across the UK and around the world. On the cover, a handsome young man and an elegant woman gazed out to the reader from their Manhattan apartment; hanging in the foreground, the simple coverline ‘Urban modernists’ set the the tone for who this title was targeting.
In the weeks that followed, our little office filled with bouquets of congratulations. Media columnists liked what they saw, and brands big and small from the worlds of fashion, furniture and hospitality wanted to be featured in our pages and buy advertising. It took a few months to get issue two out the door, but gradually we found our rhythm and Wallpaper* established itself as a curious, global, slightly decadent and occasionally naughty periodical with a passion for architecture, industrial design, entertaining, fashion, the Nordic world and plenty of travel.
Twenty-five years on, I often wonder if Wallpaper* was the last great launch from the golden years of magazine publishing. If talent, ambition, creativity, focus and audience are a gauge, then I feel it’s a confident contender for such a title.
A version of this article appears in the October 2021, 25th Anniversary Issue of Wallpaper* (W*270), on newsstands now and available to subscribers –12 digital issues for $12/£12/€12.
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
This season’s menswear collections capture a brighter mood
The shape of things to come with the best of the S/S 2024 menswear collections, an enlivening amalgam of colour and play
By Jack Moss Published
New York artist Christopher Astley showcases an alternative natural world
At Martos Gallery in New York, Christopher Astley’s paintings evoke an alternative natural world and the chaos of warfare (until 16 March 2024)
By Tianna Williams Published
This handmade Lamborghini Countach LP400 is designed to slot on a shelf
Just 199 examples of this Lamborghini Countach LP400 will be built by Amalgam Collection, recreating every aspect of the iconic 1970s supercar, at a 1:8 scale
By Jonathan Bell Published
25 years of Wallpaper* magazine marked by team members past and present
Wallpaper* friends and family on 25 years of special memories, from having tea in a Richard Neutra house to shooting behind the scenes in the Vatican. These recollections feature in the ‘25 Years of Wallpaper*’ series, published in our October 2021, 25th anniversary issue
By Rosa Bertoli Last updated
When Karl Lagerfeld met Zaha Hadid: Suzanne Trocmé on Wallpaper’s most memorable shoot
Contributing editor Suzanne Trocmé, who has worked for Wallpaper* since 2003, on celebrating our magazine’s tenth anniversary, in 2006, with a creative match made in heaven. Trocmé's recollections feature in the ‘25 Years of Wallpaper*’ series, published in our October 2021, 25th anniversary issue
By Suzanne Trocmé Last updated
Artist and designer Faye Toogood on how Wallpaper* shaped the way we live
Artist and designer Faye Toogood, a Wallpaper* contributor since 2007, on our forward-thinking magazine. Toogood’s recollections feature in the ‘25 Years of Wallpaper*’ series, published in our October 2021, 25th anniversary issue
By Faye Toogood Last updated
Albert Hill: how Wallpaper* inspired The Modern House
Albert Hill, who joined Wallpaper* as associate design editor in 2001 and remained a contributing editor until 2019, on how one particular commission inspired him to found alternative estate agency The Modern House. Hill’s recollections feature in the ‘25 Years of Wallpaper*’ series, published in our October 2021, 25th anniversary issue
By Albert Hill Last updated
When Joseph Kabila summoned Wallpaper* to his Presidential Palace
Richard Cook, Wallpaper’s editorial director from 1999 – 2016, remembers his encounter with an unlikely fan of our magazine, Joseph Kabila. Cook’s recollections feature in the ‘25 Years of Wallpaper*’ series, published in our October 2021, 25th anniversary issue
By Richard Cook Last updated
Tony Chambers, former editor-in-chief, on Wallpaper’s greatest journeys
Adventures in Brazil, Russia, India and China – Tony Chambers, Wallpaper’s former creative director-turned-editor-in-chief (2003 – 2018), reflects on epic journeys during his tenure. His recollections feature in the ‘25 Years of Wallpaper*’ series, published in our October 2021, 25th anniversary issue
By Tony Chambers Last updated
Culture shock: Jeremy Langmead on his days as Wallpaper* editor-in-chief
Jeremy Langmead, former Wallpaper* editor-in-chief (2003 – 2007), remembers the spotless office and flawless staff who introduced him to the wonderful world of design and architecture. Langmead’s recollections feature in the ‘25 Years of Wallpaper*’ series, published in our October 2021, 25th anniversary issue
By Jeremy Langmead Last updated
Design studio Takt Project’s ‘bird’s-eye view of the world’
Takt Project founder Satoshi Yoshiizumi was chosen by Nendo as one of 25 creative leaders of the future for Wallpaper’s 25th Anniversary Issue ‘5x5’ project. His studio’s work explores design's impact on society through technology and engineering
By Rosa Bertoli Last updated