After a Museum Show and Venice Biennale Appearance (and Some Fashion Stuff), Virgil Abloh Is Working With a New Gallery

The Parisian gallery also represents prominent furniture and interior designers like Marc Newson, the Campana Brothers, and Jaime Hayon.

Virgil Abloh. Photo by Jeff Spicer and courtesy Getty Images.

Virgil Abloh, the jack of all design trades, can now add gallery-affiliated furniture designer to his resume. This week, Abloh has begun to work with the Paris-based design studio Galerie Kreo, which also works with prominent names in furniture and interior design like Marc Newson, the Campana Brothers, Jaime Hayon, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, and Ettore Sottsass.

Though Galerie Kreo is based in Paris, it’s not an entirely surprising choice for Abloh: The studio shares in his love for contemporary, cutting-edge design, for which functionality is merely an added bonus. Unlike most furniture showrooms and galleries, Galerie Kreo defines itself as a “laboratory space” that provides its designers with physical workshops and resources to create one-of-a-kind, inventive objects. The point, according to co-founder and owner Didier Krzentowski, who opened the gallery in 1999 with his wife, Clémence, is to be able to give designers the amount of time needed “for their projects to fully mature.”  

When Krzentowski met Abloh a year and a half ago, “he told me he wanted to get into furniture design, and that he had already planned a few pieces,” the dealer recalled. “He’s a fashion designer, but also an architect and an engineer, so to me, it made a lot of sense.”

Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection and CEO of Off-White, began by proposing designs made with concrete. “That’s how all our collaborations begin, the designers come to us with an idea and we go from there,” Krzentowski explained. “A lot of what I like and what I’m drawn to are things that I don’t totally understand at first. That’s how I felt about his work.” 

Since then, Galerie Kreo has produced a number of Abloh’s designs, including a chair, a bench, a table, and a mirror, some of which are now on view in his first museum exhibition, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (“Figures of Speech,” through September 22). “He drafts all the pieces himself,” Krzentowski says.

This isn’t the first time Abloh has dipped his toe into the gallery pool. Last year, he collaborated with Takashi Murakami on a series of exhibitions at Gagosian in London, Paris, and Beverly Hills and had a solo exhibition of paintings and sculpture at Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Tokyo. He has also exhibited his furniture designs at Design Miami in 2016 and, most recently, at an exhibition in Venice organized by Carpenter’s Workshop to coincide with the Venice Biennale. (He continues to work with both galleries.)

Unsurprisingly, ultra-productive Abloh isn’t wasting any time making his debut with Galerie Kreo. In September, he will open two solo exhibitions of his furniture at the gallery’s Paris and London outposts. He will also present a new collection for Design Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach in December. 

While Abloh is technically the first celebrity designer to sign with Galerie Kreo, the studio has collaborated with and sought the advice of other artistic talents outside of furniture design, including fashion designer Azzedine Alaia and artist Marcel Brient, and are open to continuing to do so.

“Our job is simply to build an ideal collection,” Krzentowski says. “We need to be surprised by the pieces when designers come to us. The designers with whom we work are all on a perpetual personal quest [in their artistic pursuits], and have an uncompromising stance, and a certain way of expressing themselves.”

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