Virgil Abloh’s formidable design legacy

Abloh was always think about the urgency. At the 2017 Venice Biennale, for example, he presented his Acqua Alta collection. It featured chairs that appeared to sink into the ground – a commentary on sea level rise linked to climate change that threatens to engulf the city. His furniture united form, function and thoughts on the future no matter who he worked with: when Off-White collaborated with Ginori 1735, the famous centuries-old Italian ceramic brand, Abloh produced a white plate. and uncluttered with black graffiti. -inspired text. “His creations are, indeed, capable of combining the codes of youth culture and contemporary conversation with high-end elements of fashion and design, creating a surprising blend of tradition and innovation and creating works that will remain real focal points for the world of fashion and design also for the next few years, ”says Annalisa Tani, Product and Brand Director of Ginori 1735.

Even though he was a regular at fairs around the world, Abloh did not control his creations. Far from it: the same year he exhibited in Switzerland, he also launched a collaboration with Ikea. Called Markerad (Swedish for “marked”), it included Windsor chairs with built-in door stops; a white, numberless clock with a dial that says “temporary”; a green grass doormat featuring “wet grass”; and a toolbox indicating “homework” (understood?). He played with elevating otherwise neglected objects – a rug was designed to look like an IKEA receipt, for example – and making acclaimed art accessible. Its rendering of the Mona Lisa cost only $ 99 (and came with a USB port).

A teapot by Abloh for Ginori 1735.Photo: courtesy of Ginori 1735

“For him it was important that design made a difference in the lives of young people,” says Henrik Most, product and design manager at Ikea who worked with Abloh on Markerad. “He shared our point of view that design should be accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of income or social status. “

Everyone who worked with Virgil shares the same sentiment about how implied it was. They remember long, thoughtful conversations about art and design. Tani talks about his ‘360 degree view’: “He took care of everything from design to production and communication to setting final quality standards. It was the product of his philosophy of hard work but also of his education: Abloh had a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology. “I don’t believe in disciplines,” Abloh told Dezeen in 2020. “We can use our architectural brains and do a lot of things, not just what we’re supposed to do.”

During his short time on earth, that’s exactly what Abloh did: a lot. And therefore, in the words of Craig Robins of Design Miami, “It is no exaggeration to say that Virgil changed the world.”

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