A decade of Apartamento

Indie mag Apartamento has made a fine art out of going through the keyhole, tapping into our curiosity about how other people live. A new book brings together a decade of its photography – including some truly bizarre homes

For the last ten years, Apartamento has been documenting the homes of writers, musicians, actors, artists, photographers, and anyone else hiding an interesting set of interiors behind their front door. It’s drawn a cult following for its candid photos, accompanied by stories of exactly what makes home home.

Abrams’ weighty new hardback, The World of Apartamento, brings together some of the best moments from the last decade, with hundreds of photos covering a diverse set of places. It’s an intriguing group of images, never more so than when it exposes people’s unusual decorating decisions. There’s full-size pieces of taxidermy, obsessive book arrangements – for example the home by the coast with nothing but “sea-themed titles” – and some impressively extravagant details.

Top: Andrea Zittel’s home in Joshua Tree, USA. Photography by Ryan Lowry. 2016; Above: AA Bronson, Berlin. Photography by Kuba Ryniewicz. 2015
Ruth & Marvin Sackner, Miami. Photography by Ryan Lowry. 2015

Apartamento’s photos are, or at least seem to be, unstaged. As well as exploring people’s eccentricities, the magazine has uncovered the more mundane details of people’s lives with shots of places that would be overlooked by other interiors mags – for example the medicine cabinet, or the shelves over the kitchen sink. There are also occasionally lurid bits of gossip shared with the images – for example artist AA Bronson ditching the dirt on the sexually “suspect” arrangement of the home he bought from a famous soccer player.

“Apparently a famous soccer player lived here before us and did all the renovations,” Bronson says. “I don’t know his name so I’m not giving away anybody’s secrets, but his wife or girlfriend lived in one of the front rooms with her own bathroom and then he lived in the back with this enormous closet. Sexually it seems suspect.”

Guy Rombouts, Antwerp. Photography by Mieke Verbijlen. 2015
Felix Friedmann, London. Photography by Felix Friedmann. 2008

Mid-way through the book a series of essays, including one from MagCulture founder Jeremy Leslie, examine the magazine’s cultural impact. Leslie explores its beginnings, set up by Nacho Alegre and Omar Sosa as part of a wave of new microzines. He also notes how the pleasantly unglossy cover of its first issue showed a new way of presenting interiors.

“Marks were left on walls, the door to the hallways was left hanging open, and the half-finished bottle of water remained on the coffee table,” he writes. “If that sounds like their aesthetic grew from the grunge styling of the preceding decade, an important distinction is that Apartamento didn’t overload the reality. It wasn’t exaggerating to make a point, it was just reflecting real living. And sometimes reality could be glamorous.”

The book also, briefly, looks at how the mag’s graphic design has developed, with double spreads dedicated to its monochrome patterned spines and its trademark casual covers. It’s a shame the book doesn’t include any writing from the magazine, but it’s sure to satisfy those with a burning need to peer behind closed doors.

“In my case, all you see fits into a van, and it takes 25 minutes to put it in.” Yorgo Tloupas, London. Interview and photography by Marco Velardi. 2008
Cover of The World of Apartamento: ten years of everyday life interiors by Omar Sosa, Nacho Alegre and Marco Velardi

The World of Apartmento: Ten Years of Everyday Life Interiors is published by Abrams, priced £45