On May 6, Kanye West announced on Twitter that he is launching an architectural company called Yeezy Home. Although West said little about the company’s goals, he followed the initial Twitter post with several photos of industrial, minimalistic-styled home designs with concrete-like textures and clean lines.
More recently on June 6, Jalil Peraza, a designer who works with West’s creative company, Donda, posted Instagram photos of similarly styled homes, which she captioned, “low-income housing scheme, made of prefabricated concrete in collaboration with Petra Kustrin, Jalil Peraza, Kanye West, Nejc Skufca.”
The implication that West will be using his architectural design company to design low-income homes is a fantastic deviation from his previous design ventures. In 2016, West released his “Life of Pablo” merchandise, which retailed for $55 despite the fact that the Gildan t-shirts used cost under $5 each when bought wholesale, meaning the lettering style alone printed on the tee raised the cost $50.
An unnamed source who collaborated with West responded to complaints about the brand’s pricing by stating, “The sourcing has nothing to do with the aesthetics or the value of the line. . . To talk about the source of the shirt misses the point entirely. It’s like writing an article on how an artist sells a $50 canvas for $1 million. Pointless.”
Not only does the statement imply a plain t-shirt with the words Pablo printed on it is a work of art, but this commentary implies that every design venture West creates will be inherently costly because of his involvement and branding, a complicating factor in the creation of anything “low-income.”
The photos posted by Perazaa contain rooms with high ceilings, an aesthetic open courtyard and an in-wall fireplace, all features that do not scream affordability. What they do display is a minimalistic theme with sleek edges, no color and plenty of concrete textures. The use of concrete could contribute to the affordability of the building, but only updates from Yeezy Homes can confirm this.
The focus on affordable housing comes during a national housing crisis. According to Huffington Post, since 1960, housing prices have increased over 100 percent, and homeowners earn only 50 percent more than they did five decades ago. Rent has also skyrocketed, and it is estimated that renters pay roughly 30 percent of their income toward their rent. The lack of affordable housing, paired with rising cost of living and proliferation of minimum wage jobs, is deadly for low earning families.
A timeline for the project has yet to be announced, but West’s new project still has a laundry list of skepticisms to address before anyone can take it too seriously. Alternatively, an influencer with the power of Yeezy might be exactly what the nation needs at the forefront of practical innovation.