It happened in one of the episodes of the twelfth season of Keeping up with the Kardashians. The matriarch of the family began to tell one of the daughters about her latest discovery: reading. Kris Jenner: "You know I'm obsessed with books now? I'm reading one about Le Courvoisier (sic), an architect. It's very weird and boring, but I'm obsessed." Khloe Kardashian: "It's not true. And you're not reading a book. It's not a real book." Kris Jenner: "Well, he has words, important words." Khloe Kardashian: "Oh, 'this building was built in the century, I don't know how many'?" Jenner: "Yes, it's called history." Khloe: "It's a tabletop book!"
Seven years after this memorable scene it turns out that the last name Kardashian possibly ends up appearing in some of those tablebooks on architecture. Tadao Ando, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1985 (and great admirer of Le Corbusier) has designed a house in Palm Springs for Kim Kardashian, the most famous of these famous sisters.
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In a recent Instagram post of the latter, the great Japanese architect is portrayed during a meeting with his client in his offices in Osaka. Another of the images shows a rendering of Kim Kardashian's future home; an imposing concrete building that, if Ando maintains that habit of architects calling the houses they design with the surname of their clients, perhaps we will see published as Villa Kardashian in one of the books about their buildings.
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"Meeting with Master Tadao Ando himself to talk about a project we have been working on for the last two years," Kim Kardashian wrote on April 6. "I have visited your office in Japan to finalize the final details before we start building it. It is a great honor for me to have the opportunity to work with him and finally see this very special project come to life."
We know that the project is about a house because that's what Kardashian told last year when she first talked about it. In an interview with Vogue in February 2022, Kardashian said Tadao Ando was designing a house for her "concrete, gray tones and very zen." Ando, Kardashian added in a subsequent Vogue article, had also been her reference to create her first beauty line: in the first image of the SKKN BY KIM campaign, the tonic, cleanser and other products of the brand appeared between small blocks of concrete, the most emblematic material of the Japanese. I'm sure he didn't take it badly. This self-taught architect who began to make a living as a boxer is familiar with the world of fashion and is very popular with lovers of minimalism such as Giorgio Armani, for whom in 2001 he designed his Theater/Armani.
Kanye West bought a house from Tadao Ando and left it in a state of semi-abandonment. Now, his ex-wife and the architect are new best friends. Instagram (@kimkardashian)
What we do not know is how Kanye West, alias Ye, has taken his ex-wife's project with Tadao Ando, because it was he who discovered her work. In 2018, Kim Kardashian accompanied her then-husband on a trip to the Japanese island of Naoshima, famous for the buildings that Ando began to build on it in the early nineties. For West, fond of design and architecture since he was little, the trip was a pilgrimage. There he was not only able to visit Ando's concrete architectures but also the installations created especially for the Chichu Museum of Art (one of the architect's buildings on the island) by the American artist James Turrell, one of the rapper's favorites. "We have to live in a Turrell," Kanye West later told Kim Kardashian during that excursion in an interview.
Three years later, the flapping of butterflies in the stomach that the rapper felt during his trip to Japan caused a tsunami in the California real estate market. In September 2021, Kanye West shelled out about $58 million for the purchase of one of the few homes designed by Tadao Ando in the United States. It is a concrete house-sculpture of 370 m² located on the beach of Malibu and built in 2013 by the commission of another great admirer of Ando, the American financier and art collector Richard Sachs, known for having been the boyfriend of one of the Olsen twins, Ashley, former actress and now successful designer at The Row. "It's not just a house. It's like a Picasso painting, very rare and important," Sachs said three years ago when putting it up for sale.
Image of the house project that Tadao Ando has designed for Kim Kardashian, shared by the 'socialite' on Instagram.Instagram (@kimkardashian)
Unfortunately, it would now be more accurate to compare the house with a Dorian Gray portrait of Kanye West, because it has become a reflection of the calamities with which the rapper has been spoiled in recent times. It's not just that in December last year someone hung a sign from the entrance of the house wishing him a happy Hanukkah after his anti-Semitic statements, the final nail in the lid of the coffin with which he has buried his successful career. In the photographs published in recent months by numerous media, the Tadao Ando building presents a pitiful appearance, stripped of its windows and abandoned to the waves, wind and seagulls of Malibu after the interruption sine die of the reform works that its new owner began in 2021.
"As the man who now calls himself Ye, the beach house designed by Tadao Ando was once pleasant, the epitome of artistic ingenuity," the digital magazine Highsnobiety published a few days ago along with a series of images of the rapper's home. "Now, both Ye and his home in Malibu rot inside." The house was unlucky enough to fall on Kanye West's side during the property deal-up that the rapper and Kim Kardashian signed in their divorce last year. On the sunny shore fortunately fell another of the jewels of the real estate kingdom of the ex-marriage. This is the family home in Calabasas (California), a mansion valued at 60 million dollars and acquired by Kardashian and West shortly after the birth in 2013 of their first daughter, North West. "During a walk around the neighborhood we came across an incredibly extravagant house. I had just given birth to North and was walking a lot to lose some of the pregnancy weight, "said Kim Kardashian in a report on the case published in 2020 by Architectural Digest magazine. "I didn't know Kanye's style well yet, but I thought the house was perfect. Kanye was less enthusiastic. He said, 'You can do something with it.'"
The March 2020 Architectural Digest cover, dedicated to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's Calabasas home.Architectural Digest
To clean up the McMansion (as West disparagingly called it), the rapper hired the prestigious Belgian interior designer and art and antiques dealer Axel Vervoordt, famous for his wide stripped spaces. As he told in that same report of Architectural Digest, West had met him at the antiques fairs of Maastricht and Venice, where the rapper tracked treasures like that sofa of Jean Royère for which, when he began to succeed and become rich, he came to sell one of his Maybach cars. The crush on the work of the Belgian arose when he saw one of the floating stone tables designed by Vervoordt, a piece of furniture now present in Kim Kardashian's immaculate living room. "When I saw the kind of work he was doing, I thought: This man could design Batman's house. I have to work with him," Kanye West said in 2020.
The renovation undertaken by Axel Vervoordt transformed the ostentatious interior of the Calabasas mansion into a sophisticated succession of rooms painted white, gray and beige. It was also Vervoordt who had the idea of converting an old samurai house (bought by him and transported from Japan) into the guest house of the ex-marriage. In the design of the main mansion also collaborated other masters of design such as the Italian Claudio Silvestrin, creator of the master bathroom, and the Belgian Vincent Van Duysen, who in addition to helping to furnish the living room and the children's rooms would later design a Kim Kardashian apartment in that same area of California. The result of the conjunction of these luminaries was a "futuristic Belgian monastery" (as Kanye West described it) in which soon the religion of minimalism and neutral tones gained a new adherent.
Kim Kardashian, who has assured that it was during the reform of this house when she became fond of design and architecture, was not the same again: both the girdles she designs for her brand Skims and the luxurious cars she drives have the tonalities of the interiors created by Axel Vervoordt. "Before I met Kanye I didn't know anything about design. Being with him has been an extraordinary education," Kardashian said in the aforementioned Architectural Digest report.
Now, thanks to this Kardashian able to correctly pronounce the name of Le Corbusier, the snub to the work of Tadao Ando committed by her ex-husband in Malibu will be compensated. The new Ando building that the businesswoman is about to build in Palm Springs will not be her only contribution to the map of contemporary architecture, because last year she announced that another great Japanese architect was making another house. Kengo Kuma, author of the Tokyo National Stadium and future creator of a cultural and green space in the old tobacco factory in Seville, is designing "a house of glass and wood" in a secret place to which Kim Kardashian travels every July 4.
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