Before being a gallery darling, Futura was a humble bicycle courier, flying the streets of New York City between tagging sessions. Cycling is only part of his soul at this point – the spirited 65-year-old still rides a bike for fun, having been following the sport since at least the 1960s. It seems entirely appropriate that his imprint of Futura Laboratories reunites with longtime friend Cinelli for an exclusive cycling kit, also suitable for casual rides and hardcore pedaling.
“Being a messenger in New York [around] 1986 – 1988 was very exciting, “Futura told Highsnobiety.” It was very daring and very dangerous, especially on a stationary bike. I also thought the potential to earn over $ 100 a day was a strong motivator. … At the time, we did not respect the lights or the pedestrians. No cycle paths, and no road furniture. We have just taken control of the traffic and the terrain. The idea of being completely focused in such an environment was exhilarating. “
Although Futura has already tried his hand in performance clothing, cyclists also need cool clothes (as Palace and Rapha know well). Since the artist already has a permanent friendship with Cinelli (Futura has personalized a few frames in 2014), it follows that the two would team up for a bespoke bike kit.
Comprised of 10 unique pieces, the Futura Laboratories x Cinelli collection is adorned with three distinct works of art, including swirling shapes and Pointman silhouettes, created exclusively for this capsule. Items made in Italy include caps, jerseys, pocket t-shirts, short bibs, cycling shorts, duct tape, gloves and a winter-ready jacket. To further sweeten the deal, almost all of the items are either recyclable or made over 95% bio-based plastic.
On behalf of Highsnobiety, the Cinelli team spoke with Futura about the art of cycling.
You were among the first graffiti artists to evolve hip-hop style letters into abstract forms. How was he perceived at the time?
My work was not immediately well received and what I was trying to do was unorthodox. However, I consciously expressed my creativity in a very different way.
Your Futura Laboratories are also adjacent to fashion. Street art has influenced fashion for decades. How do you see the relationship between street art and fashion evolving in our hyper-connected world?
Based on previous examples and my feelings, street culture will always dictate its direction in fashion, whether hi or lo. As for Futura Laboratories, in particular, it also finds a home in many other places outside of what may be the normal avenues we find on the streets.
What inspired you to design this collection?
My love for the kit and a lifelong desire to design the complete set: hat, gloves, jersey and bib. So delighted that it’s with Antonio and Cinelli.
How did you come into contact with Antonio Colombo? Was it because of your mutual friend [Keith Haring]?
Yes, we met in the late 80’s at Keith’s studio. We would finally meet again, decades later, through a fantastic sequence of events. Let’s just say that over the past few years we’ve built this fantastic collaboration.
What are the best places in the world where you have cycled?
Most of my serious European riding has been done in the south of France. [Around] this time I also had a memorable drive from Monaco to Ventimiglia. I also took my executives to Tokyo, Toronto and Guatemala.
What is the perception of historic Italian bicycle makers in New York?
NY only has respect for the culture, the language, the history. ITALIAN BICYCLES are the HOLY GRAIL of CRAFTSMANSHIP. So many fabulous executives and master craftsmen and manufacturing and BASTA, let’s eat.
Do bicycles help you connect with city streets?
Of course, that feeling and that freedom of movement has its own power and ability. nothing can duplicate that. Ride for fun or ride for distance, workout or hike, and of course, the Pro Circuit – wow, those speeds. I’m lucky if I can average 20mph. (Laughs)
Do you think there is a special love affair between cycling and the New York art scene?
It’s not just NYC, look at San Francisco. Look at all the other cities in the world. Cycling in all of these places is more of a thing than ever: alley cat crews, clubs and races.
Urban cycling has exploded across the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, do you think it will last?
Cycling has become a solution. I mean, it always has been, but now an urgent need has made it very popular. Only time will tell. Keep up the pace and stay hydrated.