There is little, if anything, Kanye West can’t do. That is, of course, according to Kanye. The rapper-meets-fashion designer has already declared himself the “Steve [Jobs] of the Internet” and now he has set his eyes on architecture. Perhaps next, he’ll hail himself the “Franklin Lloyd Wright of design.” In an interview this fall with BBC Radio 1 (watch after the jump), West said that he was interested in trying his hand at architecture and product design.
(Watch the rest of the interview below.)
And apparently he has a posse of architects by his side: “I hang around architects mostly,” he said. “People that wanna make things as dope as possible.” This isn’t West’s first foray into the design field. He created Air Yeezy trainers for Nike in 2009 and recently launched a creative agency called DONDA, which said to encompass over 22 departments and is staffed by a variety of professionals, including architects, video fame developers, nutritionists, doctors, lawyers and “app guys.” According to a tweet in 2012, architects (or pretty much anyone of any profession) can apply at contactDONDA@gmail.com to take part in DONDA’s wide range of plans, from constructing amusement parks to overhauling the prison system.
If Kanye’s performance at Madison Square Garden over the weekend is any indication, the artist is currently seeking investors. During his set, Yeezy made a shout out to Google chairman Eric Schmidt, who was reported to be “in the house,” asking the audience “Do y’all want Eric Schmidt to invest in DONDA?”
Students at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) paid witness to Kanye’s architectural ambitions recently as Kanye delivered an impromptu motivational speech, after which the rapper handed out 300 tickets to his performance that night at Boston’s TD Gardens. Among his words of wisdom to Harvard’s budding architecture students was the creation of a new word:
“But I just wanted to tell you guys: I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be ‘architected,'” Kanye told GSD students from atop a desk. “I believe that utopia is actually possible—but we’re led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political. So in no way am I a politician—I’m usually at my best politically incorrect and very direct. I really appreciate you guys’ willingness to learn and hone your craft, and not be lazy about creation. I’m very inspired to be in this space.”
Kanye was invited visit to the prestigious institution by Harvard’s African American Student Union to discuss the under-representation of minorities in the design professions. With figures form the American Institute of Architects showing that, despite African-Americans making up over 12 percent of the nation’s total population, they represent only one percent of registered architects. However, some have been critical of Kanye’s appearance, citing his apparent lack of authority in the field.
Héctor Tarrido-Picart, GSD student and co-president of the African American Student Union, responded to such critiques, arguing that they represent “long history in the United States of making fun of black people that actually make it.”
“We were struck first by the depth of knowledge that Kanye West actually had on architecture,” Tarrido-Picart told Dezeen, “and second, because of the real question that he raised, which is [that] when you’re a very clearly a very talented and creative person and you choose to expand that creativity to new fields, you run into a wall. And that wall isn’t a wall that’s revolving around your creativity but a wall that’s revolving around the colour of your skin.”
Jamaican-born architect Sekou Cookie also came out in support of Kanye’s recent foray into architecture in a article for Archdaily, entitled “Keep Talking Kanye: An Architect’s Defense of Kanye West,” in which he tackles the profession’s “Old Boys’ Club’s” continued unwillingness to welcome minorities and women into their ranks.