The new rubric for application pieces, featuring “OFFICE SUPPLIES”

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination
~John Lennon

Hard though it may be to believe from the ground floor, at a certain level up, money just isn’t that much of a distinguishing factor anymore. So what selects? Time and imagination,i of course.

So it is that the artists/brands who most adeptly operate the gears and levers of human psychology find various ways of sorting the lemma from the palea in ways other than simple stacks and racks. As Lucy Alexander observes in her worthwhile piece for Robb Report, several exclusive country clubs use applications that consider “WoT” and “coin age,”ii while, as GaryG points out in his recent piece for Quill & Pad, companies like Patek Philippe use applications that consider faithfulness and obedience to the brand.

Now, Ferrari, Porsche, Richard Mille, Rolex, Jeff Koons, and a select handful of others deserve to be part of this conversation as well, and while they all deserve praise for their respective plans and executions, they all play by the old skool rules. As of this month, that Ghanaian-American dude I just can’t seem to shut the fuck up about has done it again because there are now NEW rubric for application pieces, and they’re so much more au courrant that they can’t help but launch a new chapter in the history of marketing.iii

For his newest “OFFICE SUPPLIES” jewelry line co-created with Uzbeki-Jewish legend Yakov Arabov aka “Jacob The Jeweller,” Virgil has not only created a wildly-priced market-priced series of precious metal paper clips complete with gem set options, but he has a next-level “application” form to go with it. While I’m mildly tempted by the “PAPER CLIP NECKLACE” in white gold with 15 carats of the world’s tiniest white diamonds, pavé set, I’m not quite USD$70k tempted (at least this week).iv

That being said, if for nothing other than your enlightenment and entertainment, I have far less compunction in completing the “application” form all the same. So here are my answers to the nine (9) questions:v

1. Where are you from? My mother’s womb, duh. But I suppose you wanted me to answer “Canada via The Pale of Russia via The Fertile Crescent”?

2. What were your last fine jewelry acquisitions? Commissioned a pair of 90-pointer diamond stud earrings for The Girl, commissioned a series of white gold lapel pins for my best friend’s wedding party,vi and some less-than-modest Swiss watches.vii

3. What is your dream profession? The profession where I’m the most underpaid relative to my satisfaction (ie. soul in the game),viii which just so happens to be my current profession, managing a start-up manufacturing company.

4. Who are your favorite artists and musicians, past and present? Musicians Past: Bobby Darin, Paul Robeson, Frank Sinatra, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Birdman, 3-6 Mafia, Daddy Yankee, Chris Brown, T.I., Rihanna, Gorillaz, Mother Mother, Metric, Dada Life, Cazette. Musicians Present: Stormzy, J Balvin, DaBaby, Nicky Minaj, Post Malone, Lil Pump, Future, Meek Mill, Big Sean, Roddy Ricch, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Lil Uzi Vert. Artists Past: Picasso, Rodin, Monet, Matisse, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Antonio Gaudí, Richard Serra.  Artists Present: Scott Plear (RCA), Neil Martin, Paul Bruneau, Billy Merkosak, Virgil Abloh (or else why would I be here), Bjarke Ingels, Mies van der Rohe, Zaha Hadid, Ma Yansong, Martin Margiela, Kanye West, Alexander Calder, Emile Gallé, Charles and Ray Eames, Douglas Copeland, Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, Mark Rothko, Richard Mille, Marcello Gandini, Shiro Nakamura.

5. What architectural structure is your favorite and why? My favourite architectural structure is La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona because it embodies man’s inextricable interconnectedness with nature – as all Gaudí’s architecture does in its impossibly eccentric, fractal, organic, Dr. Seuss-esque way – but also because the building remains incomplete at present despite its first bricks being laid 138 years ago, which perfectly juxtaposes our impossibly insatiable digital consumerist world in 2020. Being older than any human extant yet still incomplete makes La Sagrada Familia a dramatic gesture to the power of human vision, collective action, process, and bloody-minded persistence. It’s also stunningly beautiful, isn’t it?

6. What is your most optimistic hope for the future? That we build it and built it together.

7. Which 3 suggestions would you propose to make the world a better place? 1) Decentalisation of global superpowers, decentralisation of federal powers, emphasis on local governance, leadership, and accountability. 2) Mass accessibility of strong encryption, particularly in developing countries.ix 3) Teaching all schoolchildren a minimum of two, preferably three languages idiomatically, as well as basic computer programming.

8. If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why? I was going to say Warren Buffet but I see that Heron already ticked that box so I’ll say Chamath Palihapitiya,x in many ways Buffett’s heir apparent, and arguably more relatable for his youthfulness and tech-literacy. Like myself, Chamath is a Canuck, poker fanatic, tech investor and entrepreneur, and caring individual who genuinely wants to make the world a better place. He’s incredibly bright, thoughtful, reflective, young, not the least bit afraid of being controversial, non-judgemental yet incisive in his perspective, and actually quite well-dressed (if conventionally so). Since my childhood idol Steve Jobs has passed, and since Virgil would be such an embarrassing suck-up choice, it has to be Chamath.

9. What does a perfect day look like to you? Being by myself at the local racetrack with the sun shining, endless blue prairie skies above, a light countryside breeze blowing over the hay bails on the neighbouring farms, no emails, no phone calls, a well-balanced car, a full tank of gas, and a fresh set of tires.

So there you have it. The new rubric is here, now is it here to stay? I sure hope so! This was a far more enjoyable use of a couple hours than being obedient and/or WASPy.

At least this “application” required some time and imagination, reality of purchasing the pieces notwithstanding.
___ ___ ___

  1. “Imagination” or “creativity,” call it what you will.
  2. Or whatever fiatistas call it!! “WASPiness”? “Old Money”??
  3. Who else would rewrite the rubric but the king pickpocketer himself? As Hans Ulrich Obrist so aptly describes him:

    Virgil Abloh how to pickpocket the establishment


    Oh so easy to say but oh so difficult to do!

  4. That’s CAD$98k at current rates, or about 7.5 BTC, which is about the same as it would cost to have roughly the same materials organised in a more traditional “cuban chain” by a similarly reputable jeweller (Ben Baller) but with none of the magic “VIRGIL SAUCE” drizzled on top. So from that perspective, “OFFICE SUPPLIES” are a bit of a bargain!
  5. Don’t feel shy about leaving your answers in the comments section, even if it’s just to a few of the nine! I’m genuinely curious what you guys would answer. 
  6. As longtime readers will recall, which is obviously all of you. Right guys? Guys? 
  7. Weirdly, were I to actually submit this application, I would reveal things there that I haven’t yet here. All in good time!
  8. “Soul in the game” is a Talebian concept. Vitaliy Katsenelson explain it well. 
  9. ie. every country except Japan and Switzerland, but of course even they need it too. We all do, but playing the “developing countries” card signal compassion for whatever reason.
  10. Chamath is a man worth listening to. Some of his recent excellent content can be found in What I’m doing in and around April 10th, 2020. 

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