Lian (Harvard GSD M.Arch.I)

I graduated in 2013, but still blog here once in a while.

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    VIDEO - Kanye stops by studio to talk about architecture with students

    By Lian Chikako Chang
    Nov 17, '13 7:17 PM EST

    Hi Archinect,

    Yeezy surprised students tonight with a short visit to Harvard GSD's design studio. I REALLY like Kanye--Late Registration, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Watch the Throne basically got me through studio, from first year to thesis--so I'm bummed that I wasn't there. He walked around, admired some of my friends' models, and stood up on a desk to speak with students about the value of architecture. Apparently the GSD African American Students Union had written to him a few weeks before to extend an invitation and that Kanye met with student leaders in this group beforehand. [UPDATE: for more on this backstory, please see this post.]

    Maybe we'll see him again for final reviews.

    Scroll down for the video.

    Kanye West: …So after walking through here I decided that I wanted to make sure for anyone that didn't have tickets tonight that you all could have tickets to the show. So anybody who wants to come tonight, you can have tickets for the entire office! [CHEERS, MAD LAUGHTER]

    But I just wanted to tell you guys: I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be "architected." And this is the reason why even some of the first DONDA employees were architects that started designing t-shirts instead of buildings. But just to see the work be actualized.

    If I sit down and talk to Oprah for 2 hours, the conversation is about realization, self realization, and actually seeing your creativity happen in front of you. So the reason why I turn up so much in interviews is because I've tasted what it means to create and be able to impact, and affect in a positive way.

    And I know that there's more creativity to happen. And I know that there's traditionalists that hold back the good thoughts and there's people in offices that stop the creative people, and [who] are intimidated by actual good ideas. 

    I believe that utopia is actually possible--but we're led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political. So in no way am I a politician--I'm usually at my best politically incorrect [LAUGHTER] and very direct.  

    I really appreciate you guys' willingness to learn and hone your craft, and not be lazy about creation. I'm very inspired to be in this space.

    Tonight, this show, if you come see it--um, I'm a bit self conscious because I'm showing it to architects. [LAUGHTER] So the stage does have flaws in it. [LAUGHTER] It's an expression of emotion so give me a pass on that. And that's basically all I have to say so thank you very much.

    (Thanks for reading!   -L)

    P.S. Everything was getting reposted so fast that I don't know who the photos are from, so let me know if I can add your photo credit or make another adjustment?

    Kanye speaks with architecture students at Harvard Graduate School of Design (Video by and courtesy of Flavio Sciaraffia.)


    • b3tadine[sutures]

      This is kick-ass, now, if Gaga shows up, please give me a call!

      Nov 17, 13 9:12 pm  · 

      That's actually lovely.  I'm not a fan but his words are wonderful.

      Nov 17, 13 9:23 pm  · 
      1  · 
      chatter of clouds

      Kick ass? You almost read my mind but I think you miss read kiss for kick

      Nov 17, 13 10:18 pm  · 
       ·  1

      so he actually gave 300 tickets away for free..?

      Nov 17, 13 10:48 pm  · 
      Lian Chikako Chang

      @Nam yeppppp. First 300 GSD students to show up at will-call got comps from Kanye.

      Nov 17, 13 10:53 pm  · 
      1  · 

      I wonder if he asked for some advice on how to make his spanish revival house "of our time"!

      Nov 18, 13 8:26 am  · 

      This is pretty cool. However, as someone that is skeptical of Kanye's ideas around "utopia", I hope that other prominent voices in hip hop and/or general culture with differing views are invited. 

      Or, as I put it in twitter: 

      "Yo Kanye, Imma let you finish but KRS ONE, Boots Riley and Yasiin Bey (MosDef) have the best ways of looking at the city of all time #KanyesLuxuryUtopia"

      Nov 18, 13 10:12 am  · 

      I appreciate Kanye because he doesn't just sit back, he is actually trying to engage and become a designer/curator himself--even with the pushback. 

      On the other hand, I wish that the conversation were more about specific ideas. What does it mean when the big design stories are about celebrity and not about the five points of a new architecture (for example). 

      It seems like whenever celebs present their ideas, they come closer to Arch. Digest. 

      Nov 18, 13 11:08 am  · 
      1  · 

      After looking at the video, my impression is much worse. Sorry to be debbie downer, but it's just a musician dropping by to give out tickets to his show. The gist of it is a bunch of GSD students tweeting (Kanye West just stopped by.... Awesome!). Guess this is what warrants interest nowadays.... meanwhile the world continues to decay... hahahahahaha

      Nov 18, 13 11:12 am  · 
       ·  1

      I believe that utopia is actually possible--but we're led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political.

      There is a lot of truth in that statement, but when I start to get too positive and believe in this possibility I go back and read my Lord of the Flies and it brings me back to reality. 

      Kanye himself is proof that utopia is impossible.  His ego and greed are the very characteristics that prevent the necessary social fabric for such a thing.  I'm pretty sure that he would be living on Elysium with Kim while the rest of us scrap by on earth. 

      Nov 18, 13 11:25 am  · 

      "It's an expression of emotion, so give me a pass on that"

      Nov 18, 13 12:03 pm  · 

      Yeah, he believes utopia is possible because he's a puppet of the illuminati elite agenda that wants to kill off 90% of the global population.

      Also, his music sucks.

      Nov 18, 13 12:17 pm  · 
       ·  1
      chatter of clouds

      music? I didn't notice...

      Nov 18, 13 12:23 pm  · 
       ·  1

      The line about the tshirts explains this:

      Nov 18, 13 2:33 pm  · 

      To quote Homer Simpson, on the celebrity suckfest that is our culture:

      "Rock stars.  Is there anything they can't do?"

      Nov 18, 13 2:48 pm  · 
       ·  1
      chatter of clouds

      The elite of the "don't know better" culture paying a visit to the elite of "know better than you" culture. The ouroboros kissing its own ass; I wonder which is the head and which is the ass

      Nov 18, 13 2:54 pm  · 
       ·  1

      You know what's great? How people love turning allies into enemies, that totally rocks! Especially when this profession has the respect of so many!

      Nov 18, 13 5:46 pm  · 
      1  · 

      i think if kanye believes utopia is possible he should stop by over the rhine in cincinnati and talk to tom dutton.  i think tom could use more of a pat on the back from kanye for trying to at least solve current problems that stand in the way of utopia compared to some GSD students.  there are also a lot of places in kanye's hometown of chicago that could benefit from his beneficence.  

      it's great he is talking up what architects can do (to architects ironically) and that he is hiring them but handing out free tickets and telling GSD students how great they are isn't so amazing.       

      Nov 18, 13 7:52 pm  · 
      chatter of clouds

      my little girl cousin played me a couple of his songs. over produced musical rubbish. and the lyrics bursting with bitches, motherfuckers, sucking dicks....what else? oh more bitches, some ho's. i almost felt excluded but then I heard him say faggot and I rejoiced for that. 

      but I would forgive the extremes of misogyny had there been a wisp of any musical intrigue but no, just over produced washing machine music with a lot of the same old same old cliched  currency of misogynistic hip hop tumbling inside . What is Harvard trying to tell its students then? that style trumps substance? that condescending to the lowliest sensationalist denominator is to be finely awarded? That calling women bitches and ho's is alright since its a hip hop thing? since its a pop thing? 

      Nov 18, 13 11:22 pm  · 
       ·  1

      I'd be curious to see the actual kayne show.  It's probably filled with illuminati symbolism and is part of Harvard's attempt to indoctrinate their students as slaves in service to the elite.  Wonder if their is any mk-ultra mind control happening at harvard too?

      Now that "pop" movies, music & fashion is filled with this shit, guess it's natural to turn the brainwashing back to architecture.

      As for all the misogyny & foul language, it's typical of the elites agenda.   Thye need a lot of us to die and if submerging ourselves in the filth turns us into killers then so much the better for them.  The last thing they need is independently minded people creating there own forms of culture.

      Nov 19, 13 8:44 am  · 
       ·  1

      [insert sad clown face]

      Nov 19, 13 5:32 pm  · 
       ·  1

      kanye's visit was cool and it's an amazing effort by the AASU to get him to GSD. it's their success and really isn't about anyone else. slate's article about kanye saving architecture was ridiculous. 

      this is another chapter in the 'edifice complex' that sudjic described so well, except with negative implications, imo. where sudjic describes powerful wealthy figures hiring architects to build their monuments, for west hiring the best maybe isn't enough - he needs to be part of the design activity. is it dissatisfaction with designers with whom he's worked or just that his edifice complex depends on his direct agency? 

      we've seen the same from pitt and kravitz, so i'm not picking on west. where the powerful might have been our sponsors/benefactors/patrons in the past, now they want to colonize the discipline... 

      Nov 20, 13 12:38 pm  · 
       ·  1

      Kanye is a dick head...

      Mar 16, 15 8:25 pm  · 
       ·  1

      I like the initiative!

      Dec 21, 15 7:39 pm  · 
      1  · 

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About this Blog

This blog was most active from 2009-2013. Writing about my experiences and life at Harvard GSD started out as a way for me to process my experiences as an M.Arch.I student, and evolved into a record of the intellectual and cultural life of the Cambridge architecture (and to a lesser extent, design/technology) community, through live-blogs. These days, I work as a data storyteller (and blogger at in San Francisco, and still post here once in a while.

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