Futura and The Love for Design: A Never Ending Story Culminating in the Collaboration with Cinelli
The One Block Down editorial archive is an ever-evolving resource detailing the cultures, movements and ideas that defined contemporary stylistic discourse. From unique takes on today’s leading pop-culture topics, to off-kilter stories that might have slipped through the net, our editorial archive is as fundamental as it is abstract.
Born in 1954 in New York, Futura, formally known as Leonard Hilton McGurr, is a graffiti artist who needs little introduction. Widely regarded as one of the first cultural protagonists to create a thriving street art scene in the city, he is also known for successfully transporting this once-overlooked craft into some of today’s most famous galleries. Futura brought graffiti from the street and into the forefront of popular discussion.
Part of the same generation as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Futura revolutionized the world of graffiti with a focus on abstractionism. With graffiti of the time being mostly typographic and figurative, Futura’s off-kilter approach set the art form on an entirely new trajectory.
Decades later, Futura has established himself as one of today’s most influential artists and cultural curators. Having since hosted exhibitions worldwide, Futura also lists collaborations with the likes of Nike, Louis Vuitton, and COMME des GARÇONS. Apart from clothing, his appreciation for the materiality and design of products makes his collaborations unique. For example, in his work di BMW, Futura created three exclusive designs for the BMW M2 Competition, linking street art with high-performance cars.
Other aspects of his partnerships are stage design and live art, as in 2019 for the Louis Vuitton Fall Runway Show, where the New York artist spray-painted the show.
Futura expanded out of the aforementioned fashion circles to now work with Cinelli, the historic cycling company founded in 1944 by Cino Cinelli.
His love for bicycles, and what he likes to call, “steel-made human-powered machines,” came about at a very early age and grew throughout the ’80s when he worked as a New York bike messenger. His popularity as a cultural icon in those years coupled with his connection to bicycles, only served to grow cycling as an interest for a considerably broader target.
Building on the legacy of Cino, a cyclist who won numerous competitions in Italy in the 1930s, Cinelli is now regarded as one of today’s most prominent manufacturers. In 1978, the company was bought by a young Antonio Colombo, who leveraged the technical perfection of Cinelli’s products and harnessed the brand’s contemporary potential. Now, thanks to its continuous innovation, cutting-edge design, and rich spirit, Cinelli has carved out a new niche far more advanced than other bicycle manufacturers.
Given an overlap in interest, it was only a matter of time until Futura and Antonio got together. Having first met in the 1980s, Futura remembers fondly, “He [Antonio] was making a studio visit to my great friend Keith Haring. Wow, what a fantastic orange bike Keith had received from Antonio with Cinelli on the tubing. To be honest, and I almost sound ignorant, I didn’t know that ‘Colombo’ — even though I watched a TV show of the same name for years — means ‘dove’ in Italian.”
With this meeting very much serving as the precursor to a long, fruitful partnership, Futura’s appreciation for early Colombo tubing — something he would see on “every other frame” — was important to steeping future collaborations in historic relevance. After lending his distinctive hand style to Cinelli’s Candela Carbon Monotype Frame, Futura notes that, “destiny brought Antonio and myself back together after so many years.”
Since then, a shared passion for bicycles and art strengthened the duo’s relationship, with Futura going on to paint a Cinelli Superstar frame for Traguardo Volante, the third exhibit celebrating the Centenary of the Columbus Foundation. And now, years after such pioneering works, the pair have returned to offer up a new collaborative capsule, consisting of ten limited edition products, with three different artworks created by Futura Laboratories, the studio founded by the artist in 1997.
Click here to explore the full collection.
To receive updates on our latest editorials and documentaries, be sure to follow @oneblockdown on Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter below for more.