Samir Bantal and Virgil Abloh, Photo by Griffin Lipson
_F_or the exhibition Figures of Speech, opening in June 2019, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) invited Virgil Abloh to present his range of work, projects and collaboration. Virgil Abloh teamed up with AMO’s director Samir Bantal to develop the creative direction and narrative of the exhibition, for which the entire 4th floor of the MCA will be dedicated. Together with Virgil, AMO developed a concept along the different worlds Virgil moves in: Architecture, Fashion, Design, Music and Art.
Curated by Michael Darling of the MCA, a selection of Virgil’s work was made to be displayed in the different halls, providing a complete overview of the incredible range of Virgil’s talent and influence. From Virgil’s early days in fashion, and his role as Kanye West’s creative multidisciplinary director, to his current role as Louis Vuitton’s creative director of menswear and superstar DJ, Virgil Abloh’s work has touched an incredibly wide audience globally.
Virgil and AMO worked through the lens of the ‘tourist’ and the ‘purist’, two types of museum visitors the show intends to speak to. The collaboration extends to the catalogue and merchandise design to be sold at a pop-up store in the MCA. The show is developed to travel internationally and is part of an ongoing collaboration between AMO and Virgil on other projects.
Update: The exhibition is now extended by popular demand and will be open through September 29!
Samir Bantal is the Director of AMO, the research and design studio of OMA, a leading international practice in architecture and urbanism. With AMO, Samir is currently working on 3 exhibitions. In Qatar, AMO explores the role of modern architecture in the development of the city of Doha, opening March 2019. Together with the Harvard School of Design, Samir leads Countryside, a comprehensive research project that investigates the interaction between the city and the countryside, which will culminate in an exhibition in the Guggenheim in New York early 2020. Lastly, ‘Figures of Speech’ will show at the MCA Chicago in June 2019. The design of the exhibition, a retrospective on the work of renown designer Virgil Abloh, is a collaboration between Samir and Virgil Abloh.
Samir has lead a number of design projects ranging from a new phone for Vodafone and a new retail concept for Korean car brand Genesis, to a high-rise mixed use tower in Casablanca. Samir was involved in the Image of Europe, an exhibition on the history and meaning of the European Union, including the rebranding the European flag and has contributed on publications, such as Project Japan and Al Manakh I.
AMO is the research, branding and publication studio of the architectural practice, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), which was founded in London in 1975 by Rem Koolhaas and others and relocated to Rotterdam in 1978. AMO was established in 1999 and is conceived as the mirror image of OMA, operating as a think tank within and independently of the firm. It is directed by Reinier de Graaf alongside Koolhaas and aims at expanding architectural production towards broader issues around culture, identity and organisation. It also enables the practice to interrogate architectural production and research without waiting for commissions and without the need to build anything.
Conceived in response to a number of building commissions, including three stores for Prada at a time when the company was undergoing a complete rebrand, the headquarters of Universal Studios which during the design underwent three takeovers and Schiphol Ariport which whilst having commissioned a new building in the Netherlands was considering a move to an island in the North Sea. For OMA, it was clear that by the time these building commissions would be built they would already be out of date. They therefore required another way of operating architecturally which could keep up with the pace of change in private enterprise. AMO was thus established to provide strategic input expanding the remit of architecture into the realm of the virtual including media, fashion, communication and information; they have since completed a number of diverse projects, including a proposal for a new EU flag,Volume Magazine, a publication project in collaboration with Archis and C-Lab of Columbia University, whilst also working alongside OMA on their building projects. It also brings together Koolhaas’ teaching and research at the Harvard Design School Project on the City with the rest of the practice’s work.
Rem Koolhaas (Rotterdam, 1944) founded OMA in 1975 together with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp. He graduated from the Architectural Association in London and in 1978 published Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. In 1995, his book S,M,L,XL summarized the work of OMA in “a novel about architecture”. He co-heads the work of both OMA and AMO, the research branch of OMA, operating in areas beyond the realm of architecture. His built work includes the Qatar National Library and the Qatar Foundation Headquarters (2018), Fondation Galeries Lafayette in Paris (2018), Fondazione Prada in Milan (2015/2018), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow (2015), the headquarters for China Central Television (CCTV) in Beijing (2012), Casa da Musica in Porto (2005), Seattle Central Library (2004), and the Netherlands Embassy in Berlin (2003). Current projects include the Taipei Performing Arts Centre, a new building for Axel Springer in Berlin, and the Factory in Manchester. Koolhaas directed the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, is a professor at Harvard University, and is preparing a major exhibition for the Guggenheim museum to open in 2019 entitled Countryside: Future of the World.