System Magazine and Buro 24/7 recently brought together Virgil Abloh and Rem Koolhaas to discuss contemporary consumerism and millennial design. Abloh, a rising American fashion designer and artistic director at Louis Vuitton, explains how his background in architecture has shaped his research into consumerism and culture. Koolhaas expands the discussion to explore Abloh's work with IKEA and his thoughts on residential design and the future of work.
As Buro 24/7 states, "We brought together the 73-year-old architect and theorist of society, urbanism, living spaces and consumerism with the 37-year-old polymath for a wide-ranging conversation, one that reveals two original thinkers currently shaping the landscape of the world we live in." Abloh discusses his research with millennials, saying that, "No one owns anything anymore, but if you have knowledge of a certain chair, then it is part of your dinner conversation." He goes on to discuss culture and architecture.
Virgil: I embed myself into a culture. It is not simply designing stores for a client, or saying, 'Here are some chairs for 10,000 student homes'. There is potential for a new way of thinking about introducing new ideas. Within architecture, it's always been a built form or a published book, those are the arms to seep into the common person. Now I've made this brand that speaks to millennials directly. When is our generation going to produce something that is of value to the generation coming afterwards?
Koolhaas and Abloh also touch on contemporary society and urban life, moving between thoughts on the internet, fashion and tourism.
Virgil: I think the Internet has created a sort of utopia. I look at it as potential. Do you feel that this is a Renaissance period or the worst Armageddon?
Rem: I'm not sure I can judge this. I never try to define it. It has elements of both, but I don't think it is a bad period. Do you? Maybe it just becomes more boring. Cities will become more boring. It will be offices and work. Cities will have no real use. There is no business anymore.
Virgil: I went to a store this morning and there was no one in there, literally no one. Imagine if all the vacant spaces invited contemporary architecture and it was like, 'Hey, let's go meet at this pavilion'. An area with Internet and basic things. Just a space that people go to. Space has always had value, but now it means something different. At this moment, once you take things that have traditionally lived in four sacred walls — the art world, the fashion world —this holy layer for purists, and you intersect it with tourists, with people who are authentic to themselves, then you could get change.