Virgil Abloh Gives Vitra Classics a Streetwear Twist For the Home of 2035
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Virgil Abloh Gives Vitra Classics a Streetwear Twist For the Home of 2035

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By Lucy Wang
Fashion designer Virgil Abloh “hacks” the Vitra archives for a futuristic home installation now showing at Art Basel—and three limited-edition creations are for sale.

Prolific designer and frequent collaborator Virgil Abloh has "hacked" popular midcentury modern works, recasting them as their futuristic counterparts in a new line of limited-edition furnishings for TWENTYTHIRTYFIVE, an experimental collaboration with Vitra that’s open to the public from June 13 to 31.

The installation TWENTYTHIRTYFIVE is open to the public from June 13 to July 31 at Fire Station on the Vitra Campus.

The installation TWENTYTHIRTYFIVE is open to the public from June 13 to July 31 at Fire Station on the Vitra Campus.

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Presented at the Zaha Hadid-designed Fire Station in Weil am Rhein, Germany, to coincide with Art Basel, the joint exhibition envisions what a home in the year 2035 might look like for young adults.

Three limited-edition spin-off products, created in conjunction with the exhibition, are available for purchase.

Three limited-edition spin-off products, created in conjunction with the exhibition, are available for purchase.

In reaching out to Abloh, Vitra makes strides in social currency. In a press release, the Swiss furniture company praised his "open approach to art and furniture classics, which enables him to shift the related discourse away from an elite circle towards a younger audience and to generate new excitement." The 38-year-old multi-hyphenate creative is renowned for putting his own spin on pre-existing designs, from Nike shoes to IKEA home goods. In March 2018, Louis Vuitton crowned him the artistic director of menswear.

Virgil Abloh is an engineer, architect, DJ, artist, entrepreneur, and artistic director for Louis Vuitton menswear.

Virgil Abloh is an engineer, architect, DJ, artist, entrepreneur, and artistic director for Louis Vuitton menswear.

Created with the "emerging generation" in mind, TWENTYTHIRTYFIVE is a "residential biography" of a fictitious protagonist as he evolves from a teenager in 2019 to a young adult in the year 2035.

The installation consists of two parts. The "Past/Present" section of the installation resembles "a condensed assemblage of memories" with classic furnishings, such as the Petite Potence lamp and Atony armchair by Jean Prouvé and works by Charles and Ray Eames that "might have come from the parents’ household furnishings."

"Tomorrow" features a seesaw made with Eames wire chairs.

"Tomorrow" features a seesaw made with Eames wire chairs.

In contrast, the second section, "Tomorrow," showcases the now-adult protagonist’s home in the year 2035, in which the iconic furnishings are adapted and hacked into new spin-off products shaped by the individual’s creative growth and cultural influences over 16 years.

A wall in "Tomorrow" comprises consecutively numbered bright orange Ceramic Blocks that double as storage.

A wall in "Tomorrow" comprises consecutively numbered bright orange Ceramic Blocks that double as storage.

"To me, design has the inherent idea of being a bridge from the past, with an eye towards the future," explains Abloh, who adds that installation also explores themes of sustainability through recycling, dematerialization, and overabundance. "It’s arguable whether we will even have need for furniture by 2035."

The Ceramic Block can be purchased during the exhibition. The removal of a block will change the installation's appearance and ties into Abloh's vision of an evolving "Tomorrow."

The Ceramic Block can be purchased during the exhibition. The removal of a block will change the installation's appearance and ties into Abloh's vision of an evolving "Tomorrow."

Three of Abloh’s reimagined furnishings from TWENTYTHIRTYFIVE have also been made available for purchase at the Vitra Campus and on Vitra.com (in Europe only) as part of a limited edition, spin-off collection. Two of the products feature Abloh’s personal stamp on Jean Prouvé designs—a remixed Antony armchair and Petite Potence wall lamp—and the third is a numbered orange brick called Ceramic Block.

Abloh redesigned Prouvé's 1942 Petite Potence lamp with an LED bulb in an oblong cage and finished it in orange lacquer. Abloh's version is available in a numbered edition of 300 pieces.

Abloh redesigned Prouvé's 1942 Petite Potence lamp with an LED bulb in an oblong cage and finished it in orange lacquer. Abloh's version is available in a numbered edition of 300 pieces.

Developed by Prouvé in the 1950s, the armchair Antony has been refreshed in Abloh's twist with a plexiglass shell and bright orange lacquer finish. Limited to 100 pieces.

Developed by Prouvé in the 1950s, the armchair Antony has been refreshed in Abloh's twist with a plexiglass shell and bright orange lacquer finish. Limited to 100 pieces.

There are 999 limited exhibition editions of the Ceramic Block.

There are 999 limited exhibition editions of the Ceramic Block.

Products from the collaboration will go on sale in the American market in the fall.