It’s no secret that whatever Virgil Abloh touches turns into gold. But apparently nothing has challenged him quite like the IKEA x Off-White collaboration he’s working on now, and will be working on till 2019. He is, after all, going from creating luxury street wear for thousands of people to designing living solutions for IKEA’s customer base of two billion—it’s no wonder the formally-trained architect and fashion designer is taking his time (the collaboration was announced in June 2017) and paying unparalleled attention to every step of what he calls his “most rigorous of any design project” to date. Here’s a run down of what we know so far…
1. The IKEA x Off-White collaboration’s starting point is “the first home”
Whether moving to a dorm, renting an apartment or buying a house, IKEA wants to explore the concept of “the first home” with this collaboration with Off-White. This zooms in on the importance of making furniture that’s inexpensive and fashionable, all while catering to the ways millennials consider design—the trend being that young people are prioritising emotional features in the form of the art and design they live with to reflect their personal tastes and aesthetics. So they engaged Virgil Abloh, a multi-creative persona whose formal training is in architecture and diverse creations and connections with this generation are unparalleled across the realms of fashion, design and culture.
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2. Virgil Abloh says this is the most important design project he’s taken on
“I believe we’re in a compilation/post Tumblr generation, you take a number of images that aren’t yours and compile them to make an expression about yourself. You might not own those beautiful things or have the budget to buy them, but you put them on your page and it reflects your taste. My premise is to employ the ability to create these things in a place, with IKEA as the engine behind the thought process, so that young adults can live with design and art. Conceptually, it’s the most important design project I’ve taken on, with the highest potential to educate the consumer”, says the Off-White founder.
3. That “Sculpture” Frakta bag was a surprise
Anyone who has watched the episode of Democratic Design Days 2017 featuring Virgil Abloh and IKEA will see that his interpretation of IKEA’s iconic Frakta bag comes as somewhat of a surprise—a creative spark that occurred during his first visit to the IKEA Prototype Shop in Älmhult. At the start of the show, Marcus Engman, IKEA’s Head of Design goes “What the heck is that?” when he sees two bags next to Virgil Abloh, who replies: “I think I’m classically restless. Being here in the facility, there are so many things that make IKEA, IKEA. I couldn’t help myself but start. We’ve gone to work doing my interpretation of the classic bag”.
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4. There will be rugs (you’ve seen them all over Instagram)
The “BLUE” might be a nod to a blue chair that was one of Virgil’s first furniture purchases when he got his own place. But that’s just a wild guess. Either way, we’d like to pre-order both rugs in this Instagram post please.
5. But there is also a storied chair in the works
Word is the formally-trained architect is combining a piece of classic solid wood with the latest composite board to create a chair that represents 50 years of material development.
6. The collaboration is a collection for young people by young people
IKEA, Virgil Abloh and the Off-White team, who are mostly millennials, have been visiting dorm rooms and apartments and asking young people about their furniture. Abloh says: “We’ve asked basic questions, and we’ve gotten a lot of feedback. Dual functions are key, based on space and money. When we use the word millennial, I want to frame our thinking in solving each of these things.
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7. Off-White already has its own furniture collection
It’s called Framing and debuted about a year ago. Engineered by Abloh’s architectural know-how, these minimalist, meticulously proportioned designs comprise ghostly chairs formed by a grid-like formation of iron wires, and a table formed by the same geometric grid shell that’s topped by a marble slab engraved with the words “Off” and “White”.