From Kanye West to Timothée Chalamet, Virgil Abloh is no stranger to dressing celebrities. This November, however, the award-winning multidisciplinary designer, DJ and artist sets his sights on the masses in his much-anticipated collaboration with Swedish furniture giant IKEA. Comprised of furnishings, bedding, storage, rugs, accessories and more, all imbued with his signature sarcasm and graphic quoted text, MARKERAD (Swedish for “marked”) is a 15-piece collection of sartorial selections for your home.
Though best known for founding the brand OFF-WHITE and helming French fashion house Louis Vuitton (where he has served as Artistic Director since 2018), this is far from the Chicago-born designer’s first foray into furniture. In 2019 alone he has collaborated on a futuristic home for the year 2035 with Swiss manufacturer Vitra, produced a host of conceptual seating for Venice with London-based Carpenters Workshop Gallery, opened an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) in Illinois and launched his own homeware line through OFF-WHITE. In each instance, Abloh, who trained as an architect before making the jump to fashion, has teased another element of this limited-edition release.
The surreal Astroturf-esque rug branded with “WET GRASS” in thick white sans serif font and an accompanying piece labeled “KEEP OFF” made their first appearance in the designer’s solo exhibition Figures of Speech at the MCA this June under a mound of toppled furniture, including the frame of a daybed also part of the collection. Themes from Abloh’s series of sinking wood furnishings Alaska Alaska, which debuted at the 58th Venice Biennale in the exhibition Acqua Alta this May, are refined in a windsor chair whose single wedge foot appears partially submerged in the floor.
According to Abloh, “my concept of design resonates with IKEA’s democratic design principles, with the idea that great design can be accessible for many people.” Yet, the irony of Alaska Alaska’s take on the floating city and the graphic nature of Figures of Speech is not entirely lost in their affordable counterparts. From a white-on-white clock emblazoned with “TEMPORARY,” constantly joking that time is a construct, to IKEA’s ubiquitous blue tote reimagined as a reinforced brown paper bag elevated to “SCULPTURE,” the designer deftly blends humour and sardonic nihilism with pop culture references directed at the next generation furnishing their first homes.
Announced in 2017, the long-awaited collaboration finally launches on November 1. Other playful offerings will include an enlarged IKEA receipt transformed into a low pile rug that recalls your recent purchases and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa cast as a black-lit piece of wall art. “The ethos of the collection is to add an artful quality to anonymous objects,” says Abloh, explaining his distinct Pop Art take on dressing the home. “It’s about elevating the anonymous, everyday icons that we use without noticing.”
The Louis Vuitton designer sets his sights on dressing millennial homes with a collaboration that blends irony, humour and pop culture.