This January Virgil Abloh created an archival site highlighting all of his work since his beginnings in Rockford, Illinois to his current residence at Louis Vuitton HQ in 2nd arrondissement in Paris. The site’s design, reminiscent of The Drudge Report, reveals something deeper about the intersection of art, architecture, design and how engaging with these forms have changed as the internet has become a ubiquitous form of consumption. If you have aching nostalgia for the seedy deep web consumption of sleazy Monica Lewinsky rumors and The Starr Report, then Abloh has you covered.
Virgil Abloh’s site front page
Abloh’s site, much like Drudge Report, appears structured in monochromatic unscripted HTML with spinning 3D graphics that are closer to the original Space Jam website than it is to your local coffee shops endless scrolling square space design. There is a visual barrier to entry. It’s clunky, hard to read, and difficult to decode.
As the internet has become more and more omnipresent and the veil between the digital interfaces and our perception of reality becomes thinner and thinner the way to spark real engagement isn’t with seamless design. It’s in the digitally grotesque and processed incongruities.
Reddit serves as a prime example. This vivaciously active community is perhaps the most puzzling upon first contact. I’ve always been incredibly logged on. In college and growing up I went down internet rabbit holes of bootlegging Abode products, torrenting GameBoy emulators, and giving my computer auto electric venereal diseases downloading singles off LimeWire.
I would always stumble onto and was adverse to Reddit message boards. Any tips or advice worthwhile were deep in the unwieldy comment threads that looked more like lines of Python than a conversation. After trial and error and a download of the Reddit Enhancement Suite plugin on chrome the foreign became the readable. If I wanted to unlock the information encoded in the bizarre nature of online message boards it required a bit of work. I became actively engaged in the content, peering through comment threads rather than mindless endless scrolling.
Drudge Report Feb. 11, 2019
This same principle is applied to Abloh and Drudge’s visual choices in their site design. Part of the fun of Abloh’s work is trying to understand the intellectual threads and his 3% change to a product. Much like Matt Drudge, Virgil is an aggregator of sorts. While Drudge collects and repackages right-wing reporting and dodgy celebrity gossip to create a populist vision of the news, Virgil has combined pop-art, street style, and modern architecture to create a vision for fashion and streetwear as an art movement. Both aim to reproduce existing content with their unique perspectives.
While these two movements, a populist media aggregation and a streetwear fashion house, appear in ethos to be diametrically opposed to one another, Abloh’s deliberate homage to Drudge with his personal site shows that he understands that the predominant kind of creativity today is the aggregation and repackaging of influences, inspirations, and visions. Consumers of The Drudge Report or owners of Off-White Jordans aren’t consuming a brand new good. They are consuming content with the small impression of their creative aggregator like a small embroidered signature.
Ultimately, Abloh recognizes that the visual language used to describe the ever present changing, remix, and layering of creative culture is the same web 1.0 design that traded in dirty gossip and closeted skeletons. While the design can be brushed aside as antiquated and arduous, that barrier leads to real engagement. Like a teen trying to learn how to torrent software on Reddit, sometimes you have to relearn how to read to gain advanced knowledge.