Nick Knight says Kanye wanted Yeezy Supply website to have “the colour palette of a Monet painting”
In a short film, Nick Knight details the creative evolution of the ecommerce website’s redesign, from “brutal and lo-fi” to “beautiful and poetic", with stipulations for “no straight lines”.
- Jenny Brewer
- 30 June 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Nick Knight’s ShowStudio has released a short film narrated by Knight, wherein the filmmaker and photographer explains the creative decisions behind the redesign of the Yeezy Supply website. Apparently 10,000 hours in the making and representing an unprecedented design approach to the typically “impersonal” ecommerce, the site features real people trying on the clothes you browse, who you can find out more about as you shop – such as their job and significant life experiences. Knight says that while the redesign started off as more lo-fi and aggressive in its aesthetic, the brief from West evolved to centre around “beautiful simplicity” with stipulations for no black and white, “no straight lines, nothing in a box,” and having the “colour palette of a Monet painting”.
First discussions between West and Knight brought up one of West’s favourite films, Akira. Knight says he reworked part of that film into a concept for the new Yeezy Supply site, which kicked off the initial visual concept as “more brutal and lo-fi”. “At the time Kanye was a different man, and his artistic output was very different,” Knight explains. “[He] likes lo-fi because it’s more direct, there’s less room for artistic interpretation. It’s very functional.” Showing excerpts from their research, Knight explains how visual references came from hospital supply websites and online shops for fishing equipment. One particular image from a surgical supply website showing three surgical gowns was of particular influence, Knight says, as West became fixated on this image – so much that it defined the blue colour of the website’s background, despite West’s “famous” dislike of blue.
“He’d had enough of good taste, and enough of working with things that he loved,” Knight says. “He wanted to try a different way of creating by using the aesthetic of things you don’t love.” Another site they discovered during research showed a polygon avatar on a green screen, which West referred to as “Becky” and became the inspiration for Yeezy Supply’s new on-screen models.
During the process, West apparently made a sudden about-turn on the creative approach. “Something changed and he wanted to totally change the aesthetic,” Knight explains. West no longer wanted lo-fi and wanted to “lose all black and white, [have] no straight lines, nothing in a box,” with nothing close to the edges and everything as big as possible. Plus he wanted the site to have the “colour palette of a Monet painting”.
“Suddenly it was more beautiful and poetic and less aggressive.” Knight says he believes West sees Yeezy as less about fashion, in that it’s not transient or elitist, but more as basic supplies – “he’s very humanistic” – and therefore wanted the site to be simple, “almost childlike” and “something your grandmother could use” says Knight. Of West’s change of heart and overall creative approach, Knight says: “Working with someone who really knows what they want is incredibly refreshing,” and compares him with Alexander McQueen in that “he knows exactly what he wants”.
Knight directed the video for Kanye West’s Blkkk Skkknhead in 2013, and Jesus Is King: A Kanye West Film in 2019, as well as filming the live-streamed Yeezy Season 8 show in Paris.
West has also just announced that Yeezy has partnered with Gap on a 10-year deal that will see the Yeezy Gap apparel line in stores from early 2021.
GalleryNick Knight / ShowStudio for Kanye West and Yeezy Supply
Nick Knight / ShowStudio for Kanye West and Yeezy Supply