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Nike And Artist Virgil Abloh Bring New Workshop To Michigan Avenue — With Free Classes For City’s Youth

The center includes a retail area, workshop space and shoe donation. It will also be home to a mentorship program.

Cassius Hirst spray paints a Nike shoe purple and orange at a pre-opening workshop Thursday at the new NikeLab Chicago Re-Creation Center c/o Virgil Abloh. The center opens Friday.
Hannah Boufford/Block Club Chicago
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MICHIGAN AVENUE — The distinct smell of spray paint filled the workshop area at 673 N. Michigan Ave. as Cassius Hirst painted a Nike shoe purple and orange Thursday.

Hirst’s project was the first for a new Nike-sponsored workshop open on Michigan Avenue through July 28.

The NikeLab Chicago Re-Creation Center c/o Virgil Abloh opened Friday next to the Nike store on Michigan Avenue. The center is meant to “spark creativity through workshops, giveback programs, exclusive products and local influential forces,” according to a press release.

This sign hangs just inside of the new center.

Hirst led a workshop Thursday, before the center opened to the public, for a group of students from Boylan Catholic High School and the Illinois Institute of Technology, Virgil Abloh’s alma mater. Abloh, an artist, architect, engineer, creative director and designer, helped design this space to give back to the city he came from.

Abloh is the men’s artistic director for Louis Vuitton and started the brand Off-White. According to The Business of Fashion, Abloh came to prominence working with Kanye West. Starting in June, the Museum of Contemporary Art will have an exhibition devoted to his work.

The new Nike center includes a retail area and a workshop space. The space will also be home to a mentorship program for 10 Chicago-area young adults for an eight-week experience with Abloh and mentors he handpicked.

“It’s a way to contribute to the local creative community,” Abloh said in a statement. “I see it as a place to experiment under the context of sport and creativity.”

Virgil Abloh, an artist, architect, engineer, creative director and designer, helped design the center to give back to the community of Chicago.

Visitors can also access Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe initiative, an installation that turns worn-out athletic shoes into Nike Grind. Nike Grind has diverted waste from landfill, according to the press release, and it can be found throughout the center. It will also be used to build a basketball court in Chicago in advance of the 2020 NBA All-Star game.

Public workshops listed on the Nike website include:

  • June 8: Graphic Design with Chuck Anderson
  • June 15: Visual Arts with Alyx Harch
  • June 22: Photography with Paul Octavious
  • June 29: Art is a Playlist with Vic Lloyd
  • July 6: Design Identity with Norman Kelley
  • July 13: Architecture with Future Firm

Those interested can sign up for the free workshops through the Nike SNKRS app.

Thursday workshop participants designed basketballs.