We used to think of Jack White as just the male half of the White Stripes. The New Yorker, however, rightly points out that these days he’s so much more than just a guitarist.
Last summer, Jack White bought a house in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that he had seen only in photographs. He wasn’t planning to live in it, except perhaps occasionally on retreats—he lives in Nashville. He was drawn to its past. The house was designed by George Nelson, a figure in American modernism, who mostly designed furniture. “A George Nelson house, there’s not too many of those,” White said in a car on the way there.
White is forty-one, and since his adolescence, in Detroit, when he was an upholsterer’s apprentice, he has been avidly interested in modern design. He used to drive around the city looking for thrown-out furniture, and sometimes he found Nelson sofas and chairs and restored them. He saw himself more as a custodian of the Nelson house than as its owner. “I’m a believer in nobody owns anything,” he said. “If you could take care of it and pass it along, it’s good.” The car travelled through farm fields beneath a dome of blue sky. “Anyway, it’s a place I can go and write songs and shake up my environment,” he continued.