Willi Smith: Street Couture

Our team designed the catalog, exhibition didactics, collaborated on the exhibition design, and art directed the online community archive’s look and feel for Willi Smith: Street Couture, the first museum survey of designer Willi Smith (1948–1987). Through hundreds of the artist’s works across a range of media, the exhibition illuminates an under-recognized pioneer of streetwear fashion—one who played an essential role in the New York art scene of the 1970s and 1980s before his sudden death, in 1987, of AIDS. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum / Rizzoli

The Willi Smith Digital Community Archive invites friends, collaborators, and admirers of American designer Willi Smith to share in writing his history. The site collects and publishes personal recollections, new scholarship, video, and digital ephemera that contribute to a greater understanding of Smith’s life, work, and times.

Lead Partner – Silas Munro
Supporting Partner – Brian Johnson
Designer – Michelle Lamb

Poetic Research

Selling the Garment

Conceptually, the identity of the exhibition comprises a set of fundamental elements: verticality; Smith’s cutting-edge designs; the ghosting of memory and the collective loss of potential mentors to AIDS (as expressed by the grey tones); New York’s architecture and broad avenues; and the proportions of the standing, human body. This theme flows seamlessly through all forms of the identity’s typography—from the catalog’s front matter, to the headlines displayed throughout the galleries, and other related exhibition content.