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Karen Walker takes the helm

Article by Home Magazine

Every year in our August/September issue we take a look at the connections between fashion and architecture, but this year we’re doing things a little differently by inviting fashion designer Karen Walker to be our guest editor. The result? Our brand-new ‘Global Villages’ issue, on newsstands now.

Guest editor Karen Walker (left) and the cover of the August/September issue of HOME, which she guest-edited (right).

Guest editor Karen Walker (left) and the cover of the August/September issue of HOME, which she guest-edited (right).

 

We invited Karen to do this back in April, and she immediately said yes (she confesses to being a long-time fan of HOME). Once we got to that stage, we needed to decide what to do. So Karen, her husband Mikhail Gherman (who is also the creative director of the Karen Walker brand) and HOME editor Jeremy Hansen sat down to chat.

Karen Walker creative director Mikhail Gherman, HOME art director Arch MacDonnell, Karen Walker and HOME editor Jeremy Hansen at one of the design review sessions for our special 'Global Villages' issue. Photograph by Mark Smith.

Karen Walker creative director Mikhail Gherman, HOME art director Arch MacDonnell, Karen Walker and HOME editor Jeremy Hansen at one of the design review sessions for our special ‘Global Villages’ issue. Photograph by Mark Smith.

 

Karen had spent the summer reading Urban Village: The Story of Ponsonby, Freemans Bay and St Mary’s Bay, a story of the history of her neighbourhood, and had become intrigued at how she and so many of her friends lived in a village-like way, with their workplaces and most amenities within walking distance of their homes or apartments.

Art director Arch MacDonnell, senior designer Sarah Gladwell and designer Oliver Worsfold review layouts for our 'Global Villages' issue with Karen Walker. Photograph by Mark Smith.

Art director Arch MacDonnell, senior designer Sarah Gladwell and designer Oliver Worsfold review layouts for our ‘Global Villages’ issue with Karen Walker. Photograph by Mark Smith.

 

What resulted is our special ‘Global Villages’ issue (which is on newsstands from August 4 to October 6 2015), in which we visit friends of Karen’s in urban villages in London, New York, Sydney and Geneva. It’s been an enormous pleasure for the HOME team to work with Karen on this issue, and we’re very proud of the result.

Karen Walker and HOME editor Jeremy Hansen review layouts for our special 'Global Villages' issue, guest-edited by Karen. Photograph by Mark Smith.

Karen Walker and HOME editor Jeremy Hansen review layouts for our special ‘Global Villages’ issue, guest-edited by Karen. Photograph by Mark Smith.

 

Karen’s section of the issue begins with an interview with the authors of Urban Village, Jenny Carlyon and Diana Morrow, about the history of Karen’s neighbourhood, the resilience of community, and an exploration of why so many people still want to live in a village-like way. The interview is illustrated by archival images from the book, notably of beautiful Shelly Beach, the Auckland harbour gem that was destroyed to make way for the motorway to the Harbour Bridge.

Ponsonby interview by Karen Walker opening spread.

 

Karen then writes an essay about the remarkable and moving history of her own Ponsonby home, using information gleaned from a stack of letters and receipts she found when she moved in.

Karen's home opening spread

 

Then we begin our visits to Karen’s friends around the world who are living in the village-like way alluded to by the issue’s title. We check out a wonderful apartment in London’s landmark Barbican Estate, photographer Derek Henderson’s apartment in Sydney’s Bondi, Karen and Mikhail’s friend Tracey Ryans’ Brooklyn apartment and farm in upstate New York, and Auckland’s Kelmarna Gardens, one of Karen and her daughter Valentina’s favourite weekend spots. Each story opens in cinematic style with a dramatic double-page spread photograph.

Barbican opening spread, photograph by Patrick Reynolds.

An apartment in London’s Barbican was photographed for HOME by Patrick Reynolds.

Bondi opening spread. Photograph by Derek Henderson.

Photographer Derek Henderson took this image just down the road from his Bondi apartment.

Tracey Ryans in the old barn on his property in upstate New York, photographed by Emily Andrews.

Tracey Ryans in the old barn on his property in upstate New York, photographed by Emily Andrews.

Auckland's Kelmarna Gardens were photographed for HOME by Darryl Ward.

Auckland’s Kelmarna Gardens were photographed for HOME by Darryl Ward.

 

We also drop in on Karen’s brother-in-law, New York-based makeup artist Valery Gherman, in his Manhattan apartment.

Stuyvesant

Karen’s other big idea, which we love, was to invite other friends to contribute snapshots from their windows from whichever part of the world they are in, emphasising the issue’s theme of connectivity. We’re inviting readers to share views from their places on Instagram with the hashtag #HOMEKW – all shots with this tag will be shared in this gallery.

View from my window

View spreads

View spreads2

 

Karen explains the Global Villages concept in her guest editor’s letter, which we’re reproducing here:

I went to Scotland last year to visit my brother, who lives in a place called Wigtown. Population: just under 1,000. We bickered, as only detail-obsessed siblings can do, over whether this made Wigtown technically a village rather than a town. I said it was surely a village; he said it was a town, having had that status formally bestowed upon it centuries ago by whoever it was that did those sorts of things then.

In any case, life in Wigtown is as one would imagine life in any village: everything within walking distance; everyone knowing everyone else; a sense of security, history and place. It seemed to me, as we strolled around Wigtown Square, browsing in bookshops and shopping at the farmers’ market, that this life wasn’t unlike my own. Auckland is bigger than Wigtown but I live in a village-like way. Almost everything I want or need – groceries, cafés, work, school – is within five minutes’ walk of my home.

In this issue of HOME we’ve taken the opportunity to examine how this age-old, village-oriented way of living now feels more modern than ever. Spacious garden suburbs are all very well in theory, but most people now know that they can also require a hellish commute. In an age when virtual connection is easy, it’s heartening that we still seem to crave the intimacy of community, of living closely side by side.

Many of my friends choose to live this way, too, so in these pages we visit some of them in their urban villages in London, New York, Sydney and Geneva. In the spirit of connectedness, we asked other friends to share the views from their windows in a special photo essay – and we invite you to share views from your place on Instagram (use the hashtag #homekw).

As well as looking at village living around the world, we’ve looked at what it was like in that other place – the past. I’ve thought a lot about the history of my own neighbourhood of Ponsonby of late, first thanks to a bundle of found letters and receipts that helped me tell the story of my own home, and second, thanks to the book Urban Village: The Story of Ponsonby, Freemans Bay and St Mary’s Bay, whose authors, Jenny Carlyon and Diana Morrow, discuss the notion of inner-city communities with me as part of this issue. My conversation with them reinforced what we suspected: that in times of constant change the ways we like to live have changed very little.

Thanks so much to Jeremy for inviting me to work with him on this issue. He and his team have been amazing to work with and it’s been a wonderful experience for me. I hope you enjoy reading it just as much as I enjoyed helping to create it.

Our special ‘Global Villages’ issue guest-edited by Karen Walker is on newsstands until October 5. You can subscribe to HOME and receive a free Karen Walker notebook here.

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