Virgil Abloh x Braun: Virgil Abloh Is Designing His Own Canon

It’s quite optimistic where we can go. If you look at this project with Braun,

It’s quite optimistic where we can go. If you look at this project with Braun, for example: I come from a different background, but I respect the heritage and DNA, and we both make something better than we would have separate. For companies or institutions—it can be a museum—looking to say, How do we update, how do we modernize? Tell new stories, put it in the hands of someone who’s young and respects the past, and we’ll end up with better institutions. And so that’s my M.O.

Rams designed for years, making everything, and then dropped his 10 design principles well into his career. I’m curious: is that a path you see for yourself? Is there gonna be a codex you’re conscious of, not conscious of, that’s laying out what’s been going on behind the grand scheme of your work—shoes, design, fashion, everything?

You’re onto it exactly. When COVID hit, I was already slowing my pace, and once you hit an age marker, like 40, shit starts to look different. I like this tension between terms that I don’t like, like streetwear, and the ecosystem. So I’ve always been arcing towards writing it in stone, exactly. I often refer to my career as a Trojan Horse. That’s like my internal speak.

What are you breaking into?

Well, that’s the question. It’s better for you, for a writer to summarize. It needs a longer lens, basically. Like, in 30 years. If you look at Rams’ work, and look at where we are now, you can actually see it more high-res. So for me, you have to do work to make a hypothesis. If you were to look inside the Trojan Horse, obviously there are all sorts of rules—all sorts of in-progress things, ways of making and understanding culture. There’s a hypothesis. And an industry and world that’s not so diverse—art with a capital A, design with a capital D. Figuratively, that’s the wall.

But how to write it down so that others can do it and understand it, so that others could break down the wall and so others don’t have to run through the wall? That’s where I come in. It’s for the betterment of time and of our culture. How do you become a proponent of change? I think Dieter Rams did that. He summarized his findings. And I’m trying. It’s things I toy around with: new texts to release, or a book. It doesn’t even have to manifest itself like that.

So it’s out there a bit, but not in the same way as Rams’ 10.

Yeah. What I’m finding is that it’s organically creeping into the work. I started COVID, the quarantine period, writing this book, making a studio book. It’s called Black Canon, it doesn’t have any text yet, it’s a compilation of ideas, but not meant to release. It’s just meant to sit there.

It’s your studio book.

Yeah, and so that has informed, say, when you dial in the Braun project, or when you look at the last Louis Vuitton show, or when you look at whatever I start in the next coming weeks for the rest of the year. It’s like I have a guiding principle of how to do what we’ve done with the Braun project. Two different things.

That’s the time you’re talking about. The tennis match is contained in the book.

[Laughing] Yeah, exactly.

What’s next that you’re excited about?

What’s so weird is, it’s the new year, but it seems we’re still, like, in limbo. We all had this feeling that once 2021 hit, you’d see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I’m such an overproducer that I’m stopping myself. I’m waiting for other friends to go. I need a new Drake album, I need Rocky to do something, I need Rihanna. Just to sit back and be an enjoyer of culture. That’s what’s on my to-do list.

But producing less for you—that’s what, third lane of the Autobahn?

[Laughs] Yeah, that’s the problem. In between interviews, I’ve got some crazy stuff going. It just means making stuff and putting it under wraps. Like, I have an Instagram post that I have to do in two minutes that’s, like, a good one.

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