Off-White founder Virgil Abloh has made diagonal lines the signature imprint on sneakers, camouflage jackets, T-shirts and a number of other fashion items designed for his high-end streetwear label. Now he’s ready to emphasize clean lines in his furniture collection, which will be introduced at Art Basel Miami Beach.
Trading cotton and leather for more durable materials such as steel, stone and wood, Abloh is readying the debut of tables, chairs and credenzas at the influential art fair. While the medium changes, the theory applied toward design remains the same.
“My brand was always holistic,” Abloh said on the phone three days before the show was scheduled to open to the public on Dec. 1. “Noticing the design in everyday is a large part of my ethos.”
Abloh’s appreciation of clean design is informed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who set the academic curriculum and modern aesthetic for the architecture program that he attended at Illinois Institute of Technology. Beyond studying the grid on which van der Rohe built his movement in Chicago, Abloh said, “I am very much a student of Tom Sachs or [Marcel] Duchamp in terms of how I view art and modern art and contemporary art. There are ready-made nuances, crashed together with this sort of perspective on rationalism and modern design. It’s two languages sort of crashed together.”
He speaks that same language in his fashion designs. “It’s just in a different form,” he said. “It’s a part of two different collections that are linked together.”
The decision to launch his furniture to the design community at Art Basel follows the same reasoning he used to pick Paris over New York and London for his runway shows. “There are certain venues and moments in time to show the work that I’m conceiving of, next to the more established work,” he said. “This is one of the most important design fairs on the calendar. I thought it was important to represent a new generation of design on this platform.”