Writing for VIBE, my former co-worker Clover Hope investigates Kanye’s mysterious creative firm DONDA, which he initially announced to the world with a series of tweets back in January of 2012. Since then the collective has overseen some album covers and shot a few short films, but their stated mission, as articulated by their fearless leader, is to change the world. So who else besides Kanye is involved? What exactly do they have planned and where are their offices located? All great questions with few firm answers.
Following West’s lead, the DONDA collective hasn’t done interviews regarding their affiliation. LinkedIn profiles and liner notes help piece together a rough masthead, but there’s no clear consensus on who’s involved. One source suggested finding Virgil Abloh because “he is DONDA.”
Abloh’s credited title has varied from head creative director to art director for DONDA. It’s easy to see why the Chicago native and former architect would be Kanye’s right-hand man when it comes to DONDA. Abloh has the holier-than-thou hipster vibe down cold. He’s a Birkin-bag-carrying dude who owns a clothing boutique that sells $200 T-shirts. He drops obscure style references, like waxing poetic about the genius of German industrial designer Dieter Rams.
The rest of the DONDA stable is virtually anonymous. And West has a tradition of cobbling together a rotating cast of collaborators, which makes it tough to distinguish who’s actually part of the core clique. Liner notes on Yeezus list Joe Perez as DONDA graphic designer and Justin Saunders as art director. Those who are believed to have worked with the company consistently include West’s longtime barber and style consultant Ibn Jasper, art directors Matthew Williams and Guido Callarelli and graphic designers Nathaniel Brown and Alex Milsom. Perez declined to be interviewed, and the others did not respond to requests. Before Abloh could even be contacted, he sent a pre-emptive refusal: “We appreciate the interest, but our staff is not doing interviews at the moment. If our stance changes, we will be in touch.”
Read the full story at VIBE