As the everyday life interiors magazine turns ten, the team behind it tell us the stories behind the features
Apartamento is a heavy-duty magazine. Almost since its inception in 2008 – by co-founders Nacho Alegre, Marco Velardi and Omar Sosa, who are based in Barcelona, Berlin and New York respectively – it has offered a satisfyingly concise compendium of features. It often reads more like a book than a magazine; stories packed in one after the other, no filler allowed.
It focuses on interiors, but not as you might know them. In the place of perfectly polished white-cube houses filled with expensive objects and displayed unsentimentally, Apartamento features real-life homes, and the real lives lived fully and fearlessly within them. Their subjects range from Chloë Sevigny and Omar Souleyman to Michael Stipe and Kembra Pfahler, each affectionately documented by a photographer-and-writer duo.
So it will come to the great pleasure of its many devout readers that The World of Apartamento, a new Abrams-published book realised to celebrate the magazine’s tenth birthday, does the opposite – printing a carefully curated selection of images from its vast and sumptuous archive, with paired quotes from the corresponding interviews, and leaving them almost to speak for themselves. To mark this worthy milestone, the team behind the magazine selects their favourite of its many features from across the years.
1. Armin Heinemann, Apartamento magazine issue #15 (Photography by Nacho Alegre)
“In issue #4 of the magazine we featured a story on the artist Grillo Demo, who lives in Ibiza,” writes Nacho Alegre, co-founder and creative director. “One day I was at his house and I was looking at these textiles he had around the place. I asked him about them and he said, ‘Oh, they’re from Paula’s’. He started to tell me that Paula’s Ibiza was this iconic shop founded by a German hippie called Armin Heinemann in the 70s. On another trip to Grillo’s, he showed me the Paula’s Ibiza 25 Years book, and from there on I knew we had to do a feature on Armin and Paula’s in the magazine, so we began to research. We finally got in touch with him and arranged to fly over and visit him at his home, which is an old structure in the middle of the woods in the north of the island, with no electricity nor running water, just a well. In the article we mixed my photos with these incredible archival images of Armin’s of all the parties, fashion shows, and the general hippy lifestyle they led, and has long since ceased to exist on the island.”
2. Art director and designer Yorgo Tloupas, Apartamento magazine issue #2 (Photography by Marco Velardi)
“We had just started the magazine, and it was a total discovery for me to find out that people could live in old schools, libraries, or fire stations, and pay cheap rent in nice areas of London,” writes Marc Velardi, editor-in-chief. “The catch was that they needed to be ready to move out at a moment’s notice – sometimes within a month if needed. Yorgo’s Camelot house in London never felt like one of those temporary spaces. I was fascinated by the amount of care he’d put into making it look incredible, even with just a few things. He wouldn’t have been bothered if he’d had to pack it all up into a van in one day. It really influenced my own perspective on owning things, and my understanding of what is truly essential.”
3. Artist Esther Mahlangu, Apartamento magazine issue #10 (Photography by Nico Krijno), and musician Omar Souleyman, Apartamento magazine issue #12 (Photography by Serkan Taycan)
“One of my favourite parts of working for the magazine is looking for photographers and writers outside of the usual London/Paris/New York/other big city circuit, and convincing them to go out to the middle of nowhere to shoot a story,” managing editor Robbie Whitehead explains. “It’s almost always a bit of a gamble, because we are usually clueless as to what the houses will be like and the whole thing is organised over a few out-of-the-blue emails. There’s always a high risk of it all turning out to be a complete failure. These two thankfully turned out to be complete successes and have become two of my favourite stories.
“For the Esther Mahlangu piece, photographer Nico Krijno and writer Matthew Fremantle flew from Cape Town to Johannesburg and then drove all the way out to Weltevrede to shoot and interview the incredible 82-year-old Ndebele artist. For Omar Souleyman, Turkish photographer Serkan Taycan flew from Istanbul to Şanlıurfa on the Turkey-Syria border to photograph the Syrian musician, who had temporarily moved there to escape the civil war. Then Alia Farid, one of our contributors, myself, and our friend Coke Bartrina drove from Barcelona to Sète in the south of France to interview him, only to get stuck there overnight and have to drive back at 6am the next morning with no sleep. A lot of the time these little adventures turn into great friendships and I’m always kind of amazed and touched by the amount of enthusiasm and dedication our contributors put into the magazine.”
4. Jim Walrod, Apartamento magazine issue #10 (Photography by Jeremy Liebman)
“It was around 2010 that we became friends with Patrick Parrish, who we knew for his amazing design gallery in Tribeca and our favourite blog, called Mondoblogo – all that was way before Instagram took everything over,” writes Nacho Alegre. “One day Patrick sent us a very long email recommending us to feature a friend who, according to him, had one of the most incredible collections of Italian Radical design. He wholeheartedly described Jim Walrod as the most famous under-the-radar interior designer in the world. We never heard of Jim, but judging from his emotional email we decided to give it a try. At the same time we had just discovered the photographer Jeremy Liebman and we though it could be a good match.
“The whole thing was a blind date, and we were a little bit afraid of how it would turn out, especially after finding a perfectly manicured, gallery-like apartment (the ones we usually might try to avoid), but when I read the interview I knew no matter how the pictures turned out, it was going to be a great story. I remember reading the interview in a bar in Greece – I was fascinated reading about so many obscure and not-so-obscure stories about design that I never heard before. That was my first contact with Jim’s world, and his unique way of telling stories. Jim designed and decorated houses for his clients and friends, but above all he was a master decorator of reality, he would never hesitate to add something extra to a story if it wasn’t good enough to be told.
“The images arrived a few days after and were even better than the interview, showing a unique world of strange and difficult-to-like objects of design for me at that moment. Jim lived in a Chinatown loft that used to belong to skater Mark Gonzales. When we were putting the magazine together, we decided to use a picture of him harassing electric orange Nicola L’s Femme Commode cabinet on the cover. That was issue #10. The rest was history – at least for us. Jim became contributing editor, and opened the doors to so many incredible New York characters. Years later I moved to his same city and we became best friends, until his sudden and unexpected death in 2017. Jim is no longer here but his aura and connections are still present in the magazine.”
The World of Apartamento is out now, published by Abrams Books.