Virgil Abloh. Nike. ICONS
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Hardcover, Swiss binding with open spine, 25.5 x 29.7 cm, 2.09 kg, 352 pages
The sneaker as a (hyper) object
A making-of of the ten sneaker icons by Virgil Abloh and Nike
In 2016, the sporting goods manufacturer Nike and the fashion designer Virgil Abloh teamed up for a sneaker collection. With their project "The Ten", they celebrated ten of the Oregon-based company's most iconic models and reinvigorated the culture of the sneaker - from the Air Jordan 1 to the Air Max 90, from the Air Force 1 to the Air Presto.
Virgil Abloh's redesigns offer deep insights into technical ingenuity and the emergence of cultural excellence. He played with building blocks of the visual language, combining the originality of the original models with slang terms and local idioms of its wearers. Inspired by the sophistication of Dadaism, architectural theory and avant-garde happenings, he analyzed what makes each shoe "iconic" and deconstructed them into artistic assemblages - each new creation is at once a piece of industrial design, a ready-made sculpture and a garment.
ICONS traces this investigative creative process through documented prototypes, text messages from Abloh to Nike designers, and treasures from the Nike archives. We find Swooshes severed from Air Jordans and reattached with tape or thread, Abloh's signature text fragments scrawled in quotes on the Air Force 1s, and All Stars cut into pieces. We look behind the scenes and witness Abloh's free DIY concept, which gave each model of the Off-WhiteTM c/o Nike collection its own touch. Abloh's investigative design process is reflected in an artful Swiss binding that reveals the spine of the book and thus the creation of ICONS.
Abloh used the printed page to document his cooperative way of working. Nike and Abloh worked closely with renowned London design studio Zak Group to design the book. Together they created this two-part compendium that is equal parts catalog and conceptual toolbox. The first part presents the visual culture of the sneaker, while in the second part a lexicon defines key people, places, objects, ideas, materials and scenes from which the project emerged. Texts by Nicholas Schonberger (Nike), the writer Troy Patterson, the curator and historian Glenn Adamson and Virgil Abloh himself locate the joint work within the history of fashion and design. A foreword by Hiroshi Fujiwara places the project in the historical continuum of Nike collaborative projects.
Virgil Abloh (1980-2021) was a creative multi-talent. In his work he moved between art, design, culture and political commitment, mentoring and philanthropy. After earning a degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he received his master's degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago. Aloh already developed the principles of his broad art practice during the Bauhaus design curriculum developed by Mies van der Rohe at the IIT. In the summer of 2019, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presented his work in a major touring exhibition - one of the most visited exhibitions in the history of the museum. Among other things, Abloh was Artistic Director and founder of the label Off-White™️ and from 2018 to 2021 Men's Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton.
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