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Fashion designer Virgil Abloh created a graffiti-covered furniture collection for Paris studio Galerie kreo, which takes cues from Brutalism and the urban landscape. Titled Efflorescence, the 20-piece furniture collection comprises coffee tables, consoles, seats, vases and mirrors, and makes its way to London this week, on display from 24 January – 10 April 2020 at kreo’s Mayfair site. Described by Abloh as being positioned somewhere between sculpture and useful object, each piece is formed from concrete and features a punctured surface.

Born in Rockford, Illinois, in 1980, Abloh is an artist, architect, engineer, creative director, and fashion designer. After earning a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he completed a Masters degree in Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. It was here that he learned not only about design principles but also crafted the principles of his art practice. He studied a curriculum devised by Mies ven der Rohe, who also designed the core campus.

Conceived in 2019 by Abloh, the title Efflorescence seems paradoxical for what appears at first to be solid blocks of reality to sit, gather, and look at oneself. Beyond the sharp fact that it is always fruitful to deal with paradoxes, this botanical term reflects the production method of the pieces. Like these wildflowers that fit into the interstices and corners of urban space, the holes, formal accidents, and graffiti that cover and personalise, in different ways each time, the concrete surface offers a visual and emotional texture to recharge our immediate environment: a landscape where the rigidity of structures and urban planning meets the randomness of organic growth and human appropriation and mark-making.

“To me, design always has the inherent idea of being a bridge from the past, with an eye towards the future,” says Abloh. Here, the heritage of Brutalism, its forms and ideas, are literally perforated, extruded to serve as a pedestal for the creative expression of the street. Bench 2, with its length of nearly three meters, reminds us of skate ramps. Its presence best embodies the designer’s desire to bring urban language into the gallery’s white space. Drilled with irregular holes at regular intervals, covered with graffiti – this ancestral gesture of marking is emblematic of Abloh’s practice – Bench 2 is a Trojan Horse dedicated to the deconstruction of the generic and conversations on the here and now.

The pieces entitled 2019 express the aspirations of our time. It is no longer a question of high and low, of legitimacy, of avant-garde, or of being an outsider. It is a question of producing an interaction design, where the dialogue between the producer and the user is horizontal, where past references are filtered by the experience of a present questioning future uses.

Virgil Abloh, Efflorescence at Galerie kreo, London from 24 Jan 2020 – 10 Apr 2020

Feature image: Virgil Abloh, Bench 2 (via Galerie kreo)

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