If you’re familiar with the LV monogram on menswear, or sneakers with industrial red zip-tie tags, chances are you’re familiar with the likes and style of luxury fashion designer Virgil Abloh. In conjunction with Art Basel 2019, and in collaboration with Swiss furniture makers Vitra, the doyen has once again put out pieces — this time, furniture — that continue to question convention and invoke contemplation on the social issues of today.
The collaboration saw an installation, titled Twentythirthyfive, that focuses on the interplay of an adolescent (set in the present year, 2019) and objects in his home, and how that would change over time with the advancement of technology and shifts in social paradigms, bound to happen in the not-too-distant future (projected as 2035). Besides bringing up the themes of sustainability, recycling, dematerialisation and overabundance, the exhibition also introduced three products that were conceptualised together with the installation – Antony, Petite Potence and Ceramic Block.
Taking inspiration from — and as an homage to — French designer Jean Pouvre, Abloh had developed the collection vaguely resembling Pouvre’s designs, each incorporating tasteful design elements and a message on social issues, all at once.
Antony is a chair with a plexiglass shell, mimicking the original’s metal base, but treated with an iconic bright orange lacquer finish. Petite Potence, initially designed as a wall lamp for Pouvre’s own abode, had an industrial clarity in its concept that enthralled Abloh. His remake comprises a smaller version of the Petite Potence, with the same orange lacquer finish, while housing the LED bulb in an cylindrical cage of the same colour.
With Ceramic Block, its role is embedded deeper in the narrative of Twentythirtyfive. In the second of two parts in this exhibition, called Tomorrow, the bricks exist as storage objects in Abloh’s conceptual world. Part of the exhibition displays 999 of these, again, orange blocks, each distinguished by a unique number. As the blocks are purchased throughout the duration of the exhibition, the installation constantly changes with the removal of each individual block — keeping the vision of Abloh’s Tomorrow constantly in flux.
“To me, design has the inherent idea of being a bridge from the past, with an eye towards the future,” said the 38-year-old designer. “It’s arguable whether we will even have a need for furniture by 2035.”
Find out more at Vitra.