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8th May 2024 EDT FEATURES

[SNKRDUNK Spotlight] Futura Laboratories

In lieu of the Futura Laboratories x Nike SB Dunk Low's release, here's a brief retrospective of graffiti pioneer Futura, and his innovative design studio and experimental lifestyle brand.


First teased in late 2023, the Futura Laboratories x Nike SB Dunk Low’s release date on 18 May draws more imminent by the day. Although highly anticipated, the pair’s illustrious pedigree and its inherent significance might be lost on some.

For a start, they’re a product of the prized lineage of Futura and Nike’s partnership; successor to “grails” like the Nike Dunk High Pro SB “UNKLE” (D.U.N.K.L.E.) and “FLOM”, as well as the Futura x Off-White™ x Nike SB Dunk Low.

To fully appreciate and understand the pair’s implicit cachet, here’s a brief retrospective of the eponymous Futura and his innovative design studio and experimental lifestyle brand, Futura Laboratories.

Who Is Futura?

Futura Laboratories; Futura; Futura 2000

Born Leonard Hilton McGurr in 1955, Futura (formerly Futura 2000) is a trailblazer, a pioneer who bridged graffiti with the wider art world. Emerging in the 1970s, he introduced abstraction into what initially was a script-based discipline.

The autodidactic artist became a master of color, geometric composition, and line—drawing parallels to the legendary Wassily Kandinsky.

His quick ascent to prominence happened alongside other artistic stalwarts of the 1980s, like Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

His work on canvas has garnered critical acclaim, placing him at the fore of a burgeoning art movement.

They have graced the walls of prestigious institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, MoMA PS1, the New Museum, and the Fun Gallery in New York.

Intrinsically progressive and dynamic, he has gone from what he calls the “subway school” of graffiti, to galleries and beyond. A celebrated figure akin to his contemporaries like Dondi White and Rammellzee, Futura’s body of work transcends decades and mediums: canvas, paper, sculpture, photography, graphic design, and large-scale murals.

Lest we forget, his music collaboration with The Clash, the iconic album artworks for UNKLE, and even DJ performance visuals for Virgil Abloh.

What Is Futura Laboratories?

Over the decades, Futura has seamlessly navigated through the commercial art world through his brand, Futura Laboratories (FL); partnering with the likes of Louis Vuitton, COMME des GARÇONS, Chanel, Nike, Off-White, BMW, and Levi’s—just to name a few.

Established in 1997, FL is as much a brand as it is a creative playground. While it began with a physical store in Fukuoka, Japan, it now operates as a globally-connected entity, forging collaborations across diverse fields. From art, music, sports, fashion, to even tech, FL offers a range of accessible products alongside limited-edition collectibles.

Futura’s Most Recognizable Works


UNKLE's "Psyence Fiction" Album Art

UNKLE’s “Psyence Fiction” Album Artwork

Every artist has a signature motif. Some of the most iconic ones include KAWS’ “Companion”, Takashi Murakami’s “Flowers”, and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Crown”. For Futura, it’s the “Pointman”.

The character, instantly recognizable by anyone in the realm of street culture, has evolved from a concept in Futura’s mind in the ’70s and ’80s, to a near-omnipresent figure materializing through a gamut of mediums such as sculptures, paintings, and wearables.

Debuting in 1992 on UNKLE’s Psyence Fiction album cover, the project’s success propelled the character to stratospheric heights befitting its alien aesthetic. This led to collectible figures commissioned by Medicom; collaborations with A Bathing Ape, Nike, and Levi’s; and museum exhibitions and auctions, where his FL-001 towering sculpture sold for over US$150,000.

Nike Dunk High Pro SB “UNKLE” (D.U.N.K.L.E.)

Nike Dunk High Pro SB “UNKLE” (D.U.N.K.L.E.)

Nike Dunk High Pro SB “UNKLE” (D.U.N.K.L.E.)

Futura has had many footwear collaborations in his decades-spanning career. In addition to the earlier-mentioned Nike SB Dunk Low, he’s also recently collaborated with Crocs and Salehe Bembury on a Classic Clog and Pollex Clog, respectively. But between his footwear foray with Crocs, Converse, and Clarks, they’re all superseded by his with the Swoosh.

While it’s arguably the joint effort with Virgil Abloh over the Off-White x Nike DB Dunk Low that most remember in recent memory, they’re preceded by one that came almost two decades earlier.

In 2004, Nike SB called on trip-hop outfit UNKLE and Futura, by then a frequent collaborator of the latter. Mirroring the group’s genre-bending music, the D.U.N.K.L.E. (a play on both names) broke the mold. It was a clash of colors, materials, and featured the Pointman juxtaposed against the Dunk’s body.

To this day, it remains one of the rarest and most coveted silhouettes in the sneaker landscape, belonging in the same pantheon and epoch as Jeff Staple’s “Pigeon” and Mr Sabotage’s “SBTG” SB Dunk Low.

Image Source: Futura; ICNCLST/; New York Times

Futura Collaborations

Be it the Pointman, the abstract script, the line work, or the interplay of poly and monochromatic palettes; through these signatures, Futura has distinguished his work no matter the medium they materialize in. Case in point: the myriad of collaborative products listed on the SNKRDUNK App.

From wearables to collectibles, each one tethered together by elements and motifs Futura has established in the last five decades.

Futura x Salehe Bembury x Crocs Pollex Clog “Blue/Green”

Futura x Crocs Classic RO Clog “Pearl White”

Futura x Crocs Classic RO Clog “Green Ivy”

Futura x Dr.Martens 1460 Made in England 8holes Boot “Black”

Futura x Supreme Sweater “Black”

Futura x Supreme Hooded Sweatshirt “Black”

Futura x Supreme Fishtail Parka “Black”

Futura x Supreme Tee “Black”

Futura x Off-White Oversized Fit Alien T-Shirt “White”

Futura x Supreme Skateboards (Set of 3) “Multi”

NEIGHBORHOOD x Futura Laboratories x Helinox Field Office “Black Camo”

For the latest releases, breaking news, and exclusive interviews, stay tuned to the SNKRDUNK Magazine and @snkrdunk on Instagram. Explore the SNKRDUNK App too and don’t forget to use our welcome code from the banner below before making your first purchase. Additionally, if you would like to try a pair out, visit our stores in Singapore and Japan!

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