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What Virgil Abloh Meant to the Creative Community | Architectural Digest

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When asked in interviews where his inspiration for fashion design came from, Virgil Abloh would often cite a Rem Koolhaas building—one he had long admired since his architectural studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology. This cross-disciplinary thinking defined the late multi-hyphenate designer’s approach to the creative industry he once dominated: A fluid realm in which to explore, create, and push the clearly defined boundaries that once kept him on the periphery. Throughout his impressive career, Virgil’s creations ranged from luggage and speakers to water bottles, sneakers, and apparel. “I don’t get too bogged down in the clothes,” the designer once told The Cut. “For me, it’s one big art project, just a canvas to show that fashion should have a brand which has someone behind it who cares about different contexts. Social things.”

This is one of the many reasons Virgil left such a big imprint on the creative industry as a whole. Not only did he open up an entire realm of possibility for Black youth in fashion, art, or design, but Virgil also made it his mission to do so. “Everything I do is for my 15-year-old self,” he said in another interview. In a conversation with Pharrell, the designer said, “My real job is to make sure that there’s like six young Black kids that take my job after me.” 

That hyper-awareness translated into organized resources for students, with classes such as How to Use Adobe or How to Name Your Brand offered as part of his “Free Game” educational platform. In 2020, Virgil announced the creation of his Post-Modern Scholarship Fund, a charity that has raised over one million dollars in support of the next generation of Black fashion designers. It was his goal to uplift not only youth but also streetwear, a category in fashion that before Virgil hadn’t been taken seriously in the upper echelons of the industry.  

After his death last November, creatives flooded social media to share the impact Virgil had made on them and their careers. In particular, those who had correspondence with him, like the designer Hanna Ali, took screenshots of inspirational text messages or words of encouragement he had sent throughout the years. By December, The New York Times published a compilation titled “Texts From Virgil.” From words of encouragement to bits of wisdom, each message shed light onto the responsibility he felt for not just those around him, but the entire community. In every corner, Virgil left his mark, carving a path for the next generation behind him—one for those in every field he dabbled in, including the overwhelmingly white field of architecture and design. 

Back in 2016, the designer debuted his first furniture line, titled The Framing Collection, where he translated the deconstructionist sensibilities that defined his clothes into the world of furniture with a modern minimalism that was matter-of-fact, yet daring. By 2018, his Makerad furniture collection with IKEA was a highly anticipated hot ticket item. The signature off-white block letters in quotations ventured from T-shirts onto rugs and wall clocks. Other items included a glass door cabinet, a wood table, and a daybed. “In the same way you might hang a piece of artwork on your wall, art can bleed into objects like a chair, table, or rug,” Virgil shared in a statement, embracing the fluidity that characterized his creations. 

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