Virgil Abloh at the office of architecture firm Food New York, then called Family New York

The Joy of Knowing Virgil Abloh

Amid farewells to the late artistic director of Louis Vuitton men’s wear, who died November 28th from a rare form of cancer at age 41, friend and fellow architect Dong-Ping Wong remembers his unique and irresistible verve.

This is what it felt like to work with Virgil. A blur of energy and inexhaustible joy and optimism like anything and everything was possible. But also that somehow it was easy and effortless. Like ‘of course we can do that. Let’s just do it.’ And that he was present for absolutely every detail and idea. His Whatsapp must have been nonstop with design options across every conceivable artistic genre and I think he replied to every single one.

He changed my life. Like directly. He asked Oana [Stanescu] and I to design his first ever Off-White store. It would be the first permanent piece of architecture we ever built and a huge part of my work to this day is because of that project. And he asked just casually while we were in a car with him on the way to a wedding. Like ‘oh by the way do you want to design this store?’ It was already an insane day where I was losing my mind and for him to add in another layer of holy shitness to it in the most no brainer way possible. He was nonstop leveling up the people around him. And the best part is that I’m not at all unique here.

He invited so many kids to work on something together, probably launched legitimately 100+ careers. And kids that wouldn’t be at all welcome in the worlds he was in, except for the fact that he held the doors wide open for them after he had already picked the locks previously. I think that’s why he did so much and why he was so nonstop. He knew the impact it would have for kids everywhere. He was hyper aware of what it meant to be a Black man in the position he was in. He gave his entire time and ultimately his entire body. Nobody made you feel like your ideas were worthwhile like Virgil did. Thank you for everything. F*ck.

“Nobody made you feel like your ideas were worthwhile like Virgil did.”