Hitoshi Violet and YlowSelf-shot on iPhone 12, Courtesy of Martine Rose

Going through the keyhole with Martine Rose’s global community

From Mexico City to Moscow, Seoul, and Tokyo, the designer takes us inside the homes of the people that inspire her for SS21 – with Oh Hyuk, Cola Boyy, and Drake among them

If nothing else, the coronavirus has been a great way to get an up-close-and-personal look into other people’s homes. Seriously: who hasn’t zoned out of their tenth video meeting of the day while trying to decipher what’s on their colleague’s bookshelves, or attempted to zoom in on the background of a WFH fit pic? 

For the not-so-secret voyeurs (or otherwise just deeply nosey) among us, Martine Rose’s new digital experience What We Do All Day will likely further scratch that itch. In a time of physical disconnect, the London designer has tapped a series of collaborators from around the world, who each offer us a glimpse inside not just their homes but their day-to-day lives – mostly while dressed in her SS21 collection.

Serving as a time capsule of the weird times we’re living in, it’s also a reminder of the small, seemingly insignificant moments that unite us all, and celebrates Martine Rose’s status as a brand buoyed by its global community.

Scouted by casting director Isabel Bush and hailing from destinations as far-flung as Seoul, Tokyo, and Los Angeles, to Mexico City, Moscow, Nairobi, and beyond, a diverse mix of people from all walks of life are among the 24 households opening their doors to Rose, and by extension, us.

In a series of personal films, musicians, chess players, footballers, students and more – plus a rapper called Drake you might just recognise – Rose’s SS21 cast are seen caught in the strange stasis the pandemic has inflicted upon us, whether playing computer games, pumping iron, or endlessly scrolling through their phones.

Here, we meet a few of them, as they open up about who they are, what they do, and what makes a house a home.

CARLA VALDIVIA & LEONEL SALGUERO, BOTH 31, MEXICO CITY

“I’m an art director and graphic designer with a clothing brand called Worldwide Limited and I co-founded a shop called Hi-BYE – I wanna use design to make people feel positive and to steer them towards critical thinking for a better future. In my personal work especially, whether it’s clothes, a poster, or a flower arrangement, my starting point is a feeling – I wish for whoever is looking at my work to feel hopeful, silly, happy, excited, and curious, to be encouraged to be themselves and find community. 

When I moved into this apartment, I thought ‘I wanna live here for a really long time’ – up until then, I had lived in apartments for a year and moved on. Now, five years later, this apartment has seen so many phases throughout this significant chunk of my adult life. First, I lived with my dear friend Mikey, and for the last three years with Leonel. We’ve had parties here, barbecues on the roof, earthquakes, good news, bad news, hangover mornings, work meetings – lots of things have been dreamt up and created here. Since the pandemic, Leonel has made small changes that have made it cosier and I love it even more – everything has a story, but the art is the most significant thing for me. We’ve got pieces from my grandfather, Leonel’s grandfather, close friends, and of course, Leonel’s work. Being surrounded by gifts and beauty like that – I count myself really lucky.” (Carla)

“I’m an artist who mostly makes figurative paintings and drawings of ordinary things and situations using oil paint, watercolours, clay, and pencils. I’d painted everything from frogs, sandcastles, wine glasses, and hammers, to flowers, cars, butterflies, and human-looking carrots. 

I’ve been living with my girlfriend Carla for a few years now and we’ve been slowly building our home together. There’s a story behind most of the stuff we have – we also have quite funky taste, and our apartment is colourful and bright, which I love.” (Leonel)

MATTHEW URANGO (AKA COLA BOYY), 30, CALIFORNIA

“I’m a recording artist and performer, when there isn’t a pandemic going on, and I love working on songs when my bedroom isn’t a mess and I can think. More and more my aim in music is to reflect the lives and struggles of working people – no other message or artistic statement is more important to me. 

I’ve lived here in Oxnard, CA in this house for my entire life. In normal times, I travel a lot for work, so the deep sense of comfort is pretty satisfying after arriving home from a trip – although our heater doesn’t work, so that sucks! My bedroom is packed with stuff, but it’s pretty spacious. My grandmother’s house was recently sold, and I was lucky enough to get her piano. It’s a big one, really old, and it sits in my dining room. It won’t fit in my room, otherwise I’d have it there. Maybe I should remove my bed.” 

KHALIL MOKHTARI, 18, BOUMERDÈS (ALGERIA)

“I’m currently in med school, doing my second year at Mouloud Mammeri University in dentistry. I’m very into fashion and contemporary art, film photography, and making collage pieces with my phone, but right now I’m really figuring out what I want to do. Martine Rose’s project gave me a lot of ambition and motivation to change the way I’m doing things in my life and my vision. 

What’s special about my home is my strong relationship I have with my mom – for me, my mother is more than a friend. I love her intelligence when it comes to understanding the youth – recently, I fell in love with this song called “Kenza” by Lounes Matoub, and sometimes I think about my mom when I listen to it. I see a lot of courage in it, a lot of determination and hope for a better Algeria, and my mom is the bravest woman on earth. She also styled me for this project, so I really appreciate her!”

HITOSHI VIOLET, 20, & YLOW, 19, TOKYO

“I’m a bit of a punk rocker and romanticist – I’m in a band called Psychoheads (with Ylow) and we do a lot of punk rock, with some fantasy and nostalgic elements. I’d probably pick “Never Understand” by The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Up The Bracket” by The Libertines, or “Follow” by DIIV as the theme tune to my life. 

I live in a small house in the Tokyo suburbs. There’s a small garden outside filled with plants, small fish, and turtles. My favourite part of my home is my bed. I love to lie down when listening to music, watching videos, thinking, and worrying.” (Hitoshi Violet)

“I’m a student, but I also play the guitar in a fucking cool band called Psychoheads. The theme tune to my life is Pixies’ “Where is my Mind?”, and my favourite part of my house is the toilet bowl, because it’s warm.”(Ylow)

CHRISTOPHER LEE GRANT, 58, KAWARTHA LAKES (TORONTO)

“I live about one-and-a-half hours north-east of the concrete jungle we know as Toronto in The Kawarthas, which is a beautiful area of rivers, lakes, trees, and wildlife. Quaint farming communities connect historic small towns – between 2015 and 2018, I hosted a historic ghost walk through the Town of Lindsay on behalf of Habitat for Humanity.  

I’m a character actor, model, and licensed marriage officiant part-time, and a licensed croupier full-time – that is, until the pandemic hit in March 2020. I was supposed to start training at a brand new Toronto area casino, but its grand opening and my job have been put on hold indefinitely after the health department closed all attractions, casinos, and sporting events. Right now, I deliver smiles on boxes to people’s homes and businesses to move forward through this, but there’s nothing I’ve loved more than working with photographers and directors to create the image we’ve been looking for, which is why this project with Martine Rose is so cool! I now have a real interest in fashion – I’d like to delve deeper into it pretty please!

My wife and I met 18 years ago – we were two yard sales that collided. When we moved into our new home two years ago, one of the new joys of life was purging. Those two yard sales spawned a third and fourth, so many charities, friends, and neighbours benefit from our excess. What’s special about the house is that under this roof you will find all the love that holds those bricks together from a real cool couple. 

If I were to pick a theme tune for my life, it would be “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” by John Lennon. If you can’t count on those around you, find another way – and if that fails, turn the saxophone parts up loud! If I may haiku, ‘Whatever gets you through the night, do what works for you, may not be what you want’ – but then again it just might.”

Check out the show at 8pm here

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