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Virgil Abloh Announces 5 Upcoming Design Projects at Columbia Talk

From furniture to a Nike sneaker collaboration, there's not much the Off-White designer can't (or won't) do.
Photo: Off-White

Photo: Off-White

On Monday evening, just hours after news broke that he is reportedly in the running for the top design gig at Givenchy, Off-White's Virgil Abloh was in uptown Manhattan giving a talk to a crowd of captivated youths at Columbia University.

The Kanye West consigliere (and former architecture student) is having quite the moment right now as he aims to reclaim and alter the category and perception of streetwear. Most recently, he's partnered with Laura Brown on a graphic T-shirt for her relaunch of InStyle, collaborated with stylist Law Roach on looks for Ariana Grande's world tour and released a video documentary about his latest collection. In addition, Abloh manages to juggle an international deejaying career and churn out seasonal men's and women's collections for his increasingly popular label. There seems to be very little that the designer doesn't do — well, maybe except for sleep.

In his talk, the Chicago native not only discussed his methodology, his history of working with West, and his first, cult favorite label Pyrex Vision, but he also unveiled a series of projects that are set to be released over the next few years.

Here's a rundown of all of the products and collaborations in the Off-White pipeline you need to know about right now.

An Off-White For Nike Collaboration Is On The Way

While rumors of the project have been percolating for awhile, Abloh took Monday night's speech as the opportunity to finally unveil the design. "When this Columbia talk came to be, I had one vision in mind, and it's when Steve Jobs dropped the Nano," he told the gathered students in Wood Auditorium as he passed around the prototype for his upcoming collaboration. "This is where the talk pretty much ends, but I wanted to drop something new."

That "something new" according to Abloh encapsulated a design language questioning what is sneaker design. But for the rest of us, it was an Air Force 1 decorated with text that indicates it was designed in Beaverton, Oregon, and made in collaboration with Off-White; the style is officially called the "Blazer Mid." According to the designer, both the Swoosh and tongue were replaced and put back onto the shoe during the manufacturing process.

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Photo: Off-White

Photo: Off-White

A Virgil Abloh Furniture Exhibition Is Slated for 2019

In December, Abloh debuted a booth at Curio during Art Basel featuring his artistic, minimalist take on furniture. For those who were intrigued by it, there's more on the way. "I'm doing a super-big museum show of all the furniture I've done," he said. "[Basel] was like a preview." The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago will host the show, and attendees can expect Abloh's almost trademark deconstructionist technique to shine through in the pieces installed in this space.

A 400 Page Off-White Book Is Coming In The Next Two Years

Off-White has many arms, one of which is a publishing arm called Fine Press. On Wednesday, that group will launch a photo book by Luka Sabbat titled "Woman," but in the years ahead, it will also produce a book by Abloh himself. "Every year of Off-White, I visit one of my points of reference in architecture and I make a book," he explained. Those projects, which have yet to be released, also feature video content and deal with other subjects like race. (Naturally, all of the models featured are wearing Off-White.) But one of those books, a 400-page tome shot in one day that delves into surrealism, will debut either this year or next according to the designer.

An Affordable Furniture Collaboration Is on the Horizon

One constant critique Abloh faces from fans is that while he's inspired by the youth and constantly claims to create for them, the core of his business is at a luxury price point that's unattainable to them. This point came up again during the Q&A portion of his talk, leading him to unveil plans for a future furniture collaboration. "Imagine a super-awesome design furniture company," he said. "I'm doing a collab with them." The end goal? To create pieces that are so affordable that they could end up in a college dorm room.

A DIY Clothing Collaboration Could Happen

As a follow-up to questions about affordability, a student asked Abloh if he'd be up for sharing the CAD (computer-aided design) for his pieces online in order to democratize his label. The creative answered in the affirmative. "I love counterfeits," he said. "It's better than a review on Vogue; if it's working to the point where someone else can profit off of it, that means it's really working." 

However, he continued by hinting at a collaboration that would allow his fans to get in on this type of DIY action: "One of the projects that I have coming out is a collab that teaches people about fashion. It's releasing the pattern with the product so you can make it yourself. But that's like a Margiela idea." And just like that, what goes around comes around.

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