An accepted axiom among the aesthetically inclined is that those who are blessed with buckets of money rarely know how to spend it. Consider the suburban McMansion, the mediocre, aioli-drenched cuisine of trendy mega-restaurants, or a menagerie of yippy, overbred small dogs. Celebrities – especially Drake – have bad taste. Except for Kanye West. This is not a new thing to say. But if you want to get yourself $53 million in debt, he really is the blueprint.
West made headlines yesterday for his latest purchase, a $57.3 million Malibu house designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. In my humble opinion, while it may be immoral to drop so much cash on a home and idiotic to buy property on Malibu’s fire and landslide-besieged coastline, the place is stunning.
“In all my works, light is an important controlling factor,” Ando once told NPR. “I create enclosed spaces mainly by means of thick concrete walls. The primary reason is to create a place for the individual, a zone for oneself within society. When the external factors of a city’s environment require the wall to be without openings, the interior must be especially full and satisfying.” Chic! (There is a museum dedicated to Ando’s work on Naoshima island in Japan, where this pumpkin recently took a tumble.)
The building is very stark, which is not necessarily my thing. But despite being an architecture neophyte who can only recognize Neutra and Lautner, I can see plainly that this is a home that far surpasses the $10-million allegedly Spanish-style shitholes of Calabasas. And in purchasing a work by a significant architect, West also overcame an obstacle faced by many hubristic rich people: the foolhardy idea that you can design a house yourself and that it will look nice.
Gawker art director Jack Koloskus, answering my call for a design bro’s thoughts on the property, said that while it is “pretty conventional” compared to Ando’s other works, the house is likely more interesting than what the photos online convey. “Ando is a great architect with some very beautiful work that emphasizes light in a space,” he said. “So though there don't seem to be any interior photos available you can trust it’s even better on the inside than the outside.”
He also urged architecture nerds not to bully him.
West’s taste in home décor can veer towards the controversial – the empty monastery-inspired Calabasas mansion he shared with Kim Kardashian, primarily designed by Belgian designer Axel Vervoordt, was very creepy. But as the artist Jeanette Hayes once tweeted and deleted, West spends money better than any other celebrity (she told me that she thinks the Ando house is “phenomenal”). His choices are amazing. He sold a Maybach to purchase the original Jean Royère Polar Bear sofa. He allegedly bought an ancient Roman statue looted from unauthorized excavations in Puglia, which is exactly what I would buy if I was a billionaire. He has gorgeous taste in Cartier. Other celebrities: put the Kaws down and follow this man’s example.