Text by Joyce Chen, AD
Kanye West recently appeared as a guest on David Letterman’s hit Netflix series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, and as part of their time together, West showed the veteran talk-show host around his not-so-humble Hidden Hills abode.
The sprawling mansion, which West’s wife Kim Kardashian referred to as a “minimal monastery” during a Vogue “73 Questions” home tour earlier this year, was designed by West and architect Axel Vervoordt. It features sparse, carefully selected furniture such as Gerrit Rietveld and Jeanneret chairs and Serge Mouille lamps, and long, striking Venetian-plaster hallways.
West proudly links his decor to the “wabi-sabi” philosophy. “You are familiar with the cultural pursuit of wabi-sabi in Japan?” Letterman asks West as he admires a set of decorative ceramics in the home’s living room. “That’s what this house is: wabi-sabi vibes,” West responds with a grin.
Wabi-sabi is a Buddhist philosophy that roughly translates to “wisdom in natural simplicity.” The collection of asymmetrical ceramics that Letterman is referring to are creations made by Takashi Murakami, “one of the top three pop artists and a good friend of mine,” West explains. In the video, West also shows off the home’s impressive master bathroom, where a logic-defying concrete free-standing sink and minimalist deep-soaking bath wow Letterman. “Maybe I can just move in here at a modest rent,” Letterman says, to which West coolly responds, “You can just rent out our bathtub.”
Next, West directs Letterman to his walk-in closet (Kardashian presumably has her own separate space), which displays all his clothing in a SoHo-chic, sparse style. Along one wall is a rack of white “spirit shirts” with visages of celebrities, past and present, displayed across the front of them. West points out one in particular that has Eazy-E’s face emblazoned on the front, noting that he can actually feel the spirit of the rapper and entrepreneur whenever he wears the shirt. “He was an original black business shark,” the multihyphenate says. Another inspirational celebrity that West discusses during the episode is Andy Kaufman, whose eccentric attitude toward the press and public have very much informed how the rapper holds himself. “He gave me courage,” West tells Letterman. “How do you deal with the media? Here’s an example. I’d far rather be an Andy Kaufman than the majority of the way people let the media push them around.”
West also opens up about how he uses art as a way to navigate through society and make a statement. “I think I use art as a superpower to protect myself in a capitalistic world,” he says. “And, also, I can use it to make money.” West has previously spoken out about the importance of architecture and design as a way to express himself and his view on the world, and his admiration for designers like Vervoordt, who helped make his vision a reality.
“Architecture should communicate to humanity an understanding of proportion and spaces and the way it affects your mood,” West told The Hollywood Reporter last spring. West and Kardashian sunk a reported $20 million into renovations on the home over the last few years, bringing the value of the compound to an estimated $60 million. Major additions they made to the 8-bedroom, 10-bathroom mansion included a full recording studio, a full-size movie theatre, and a two-story playroom.
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