Introducing the May 2022 design issue of Wallpaper*
Opening doors to architecturally significant homes has been part of Wallpaper’s global mission since the first issue. But rarely do we feature a home owned by an entertainment industry titan. Our newsstand star this month is a happy exception. For our annual design issue, I am delighted to feature Casa Aire, the Medellín home of reggaeton superstar J Balvin, designed by local architecture studio 5 Sólidos.
Perched high in the clouds, with a panoramic view of the emerald hills and crystal clear waters of Colombia, Casa Aire occupies an exceptional site that suits its owner. Balvin is one of the biggest names in Latin music, with his 2017 hit ‘Mi Gente’ receiving over three billion views on YouTube, while fashion teams with Louis Vuitton, Supreme and Prada, and playful collaborations with SpongeBob SquarePants and Takashi Murakami, place at the forefront of contemporary culture.
One would expect Casa Aire to be the sanctuary of this considerable success; instead, it features geometric lines, soothing 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 is balance, peace and inspiration. Sober yet uplifting, Casa Aire is not only a sure reflection of its owner and architect, but also a lesson in stepping back from the wonders of nature. In telling his story, it was a joy to work with Balvin, his manager Fabio Acosta and two of our longtime contributors, photographer Stefan Ruiz and writer Rainbow Nelson.
True to form of Wallpaper*, the issue features creative highlights on multiple continents: our roundup of the most notable outdoor furniture was photographed 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 Dakar surfers for a spin in the season’s finest menswear. We also talk to Tadao Ando about his latest project in Naoshima, Yinka Shonibare about his artist residency space outside of Lagos, and Elmgreen & Dragset about their major solo exhibition at Fondazione Prada in Milan. We call Dries Van Noten in Antwerp to learn about his first foray into beauty products, discuss creating cultural venues in China with Beijing-based practice Open Architecture, and celebrate the timeless creations of Danish design icon Bodil Kjær then as it enters its tenth decade.
Special thanks to designer, artist and architect Ron Arad, who created the issue’s limited-edition cover featuring a crashed Fiat 500 – a recurring motif in his artistic practice that now takes center stage in “Reverse Again”, his first NFT drop, in partnership with the curatorial platform Shifting Vision. In a brave new world awash with hastily produced jpegs meant for quick consumption, it’s comforting to know that Arad’s cover art, also titled Reverse again, has been painstakingly hand painted on its tablet, a testament to the enduring power of the artist’s hand. Enjoy the problem!