Virgil Abloh Just Dropped Another Dazzling Homage to Jean Prouvé

Virgil Abloh Just Dropped Another Dazzling Homage to Jean Prouvé

By Duncan Nielsen
With a new colorway, Abloh updates two of French designer Jean Prouvé’s designs to striking effect.

Multihyphenate designer Virgil Abloh just announced the launch of his latest collaboration with furniture maker Vitra. Virgil Abloh c/o Vitra comprises a ceramic tabletop vessel that’s shaped like a cinder block, an Antony chair, and a Petite Potence wall lamp.

Rendered in a new ice-blue colorway—a previous iteration came in a zesty orange—the chair and wall lamp once again refresh the 70-year-old work of engineer and architect Jean Prouvé, cueing his practical and elegant designs back into the conversation.

With his latest riff on Jean Prouvé’s industrial aesthetic, Virgil Abloh hopes to open doors for a new generation of young designers. 

"I loved the idea of introducing some Prouvé classics to a generation today that might not know the importance of his work," says Abloh. He hopes the collection will inspire young creatives of all backgrounds, ultimately paving the way for a more equitable and inclusive design world.

While Abloh’s collaborations at times suffer the frivolity of hype culture (his Mercedes-Benz G-Class comes to mind), the revamped chair and wall lamp at least symbolically carry the socially conscious tenets of Prouvé’s designs.

The Petite Potence wall lamp refreshes Jean Prouvés original 1940s design with a new ice-blue color, and a grate surrounding the bulb.  

The  Ceramic Blocks in ice blue are a consecutive iteration of Virgil Abloh’s own creation.

Abloh’s rendition of the Antony chair reimagines one of Prouvé’s midcentury classics. 

In Prouvé’s decades-long career, he played craftsman, designer, manufacturer, engineer, architect, and teacher. His work was ultimately focused on practicality. "Never design anything that cannot be made," he said. Mostly, he produced products for the public sector, which meant designing for all.  

In Prouvé, Abloh found a kindred spirit. "I too, work within many worlds: art, fashion, music and philanthropy," he says. "I’m meshing my ideas from these many realms together for a greater message to the world." 

An installation of the new work by Virgil Abloh’s London-based studio, Alaska Alaska, is being broadcast as a livestreamed event via Basic.Space’s website. The exhibit featuring the new work is located in the Miami Design District.

Starting today, and for the next six days, that message is being broadcast in a made-for-internet moment. Peer-to-peer swag shop Basic.Space is live streaming an art installation of the new collection from Miami’s Design District, where 999 ceramic bricks line a gallery wall, the chair and lamp are on display, and a DJ provides the vibes. A  limited run of the chair, wall lamp, and ceramic blocks are now available for purchase.

In the next few days, Virgil Abloh and Nora Fehlbaum, Vitra’s CEO, will sit in conversation to discuss the new work. The talk will be posted to Abloh’s IGTV.

At some point in the next few days, Abloh will sit with Vitra’s CEO, Nora Fehlbaum, for a conversation that will be hosted at Abloh’s Instagram account. Evan as Fehlbaum steers a company that has for decades produced tactile goods, she recognizes how experiences can shape the future. "The teenager of today has become a creative doer who transforms their memories and experiences—and all of the cultural and social influences—into their own products," she says.

For Abloh, the newest collaboration is a portal for a new generation: "My work is meant to open doors for them."

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Design Icon: Jean Prouvé

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