Off-White Hit With Trademark Infringement Lawsuit, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

Image courtesy of Off-White

The Design Dispatch offers expertly written and essential news from the design world crafted by our dedicated team. Think of it as your cheat sheet for the day in design delivered to your inbox before you’ve had your coffee. Subscribe now

Have a news story our readers need to see? Submit it here.

The streetwear brand Walker Wear accuses Off-White of trademark infringement.

Virgil Abloh’s controversial “three-percent” rule wasn’t enough to prevent legacy streetwear brand Walker Wear, April Walker’s 30-year-old streetwear label once worn by Tupac and Biggie, from slamming them with a trademark infringement lawsuit. According to the complaint, the label asserts that Off-White is selling a $2,200 jacket that bears a design “nearly identical to Walker Wear’s storied WW XXL Athletic mark design,” in which two centered silver Ws slightly overlap. Despite the label having informed Off-White that the garment is creating confusion within the market, the jacket is still available for purchase at Saks and Farfetch. Aside from damages, Walker Wear is seeking injunctive relief to prevent Off-White from selling anything similar in the future, as well as a preliminary injunction to prevent the jacket from being sold while the case is pending.

A new Swedish venture is producing sustainable steel using renewable energy.

Noted as the first company to manufacture steel by substituting coal with hydrogen and renewable electricity, the Swedish venture Hybrit has launched its “green steel” initiative as a way to counter the traditional ore-based steel making process—a practice that accounts for eight percent of the global greenhouse gas overflow. Hybrit began testing operations for their “green steel” at its pilot plant in Lulea, Sweden, last year. Founded by steelmaker SSAB, state-owned utility Vattenfall, and miner LKAB, Hybrit is partnering with Volvo to trial a chain of steel-trucks that sport a smaller environmental footprint prior to full-scale production in 2026.

Telfar bag

To combat bots, Telfar rolled out “Captchas” that ended up stumping customers.

We’re all used to Captchas that ask us to identify stoplights or glasses of wine, but would you be able to identify the biggest cat when you have a matter of seconds to purchase a Telfar bag online before it sells out? To prevent bots from mass-purchasing the label’s coveted bags during a recent drop, the label run by Telfar Clemens rolled out a series of Captchas that left some customers stumped and stymied. The reason for the increasingly difficult Captcha, according to Clemens’s business partner Babak Radboy, is because bots have become increasingly good at cracking the codes—their ability to do so has actually outpaced that of most humans. In the past, bots have purchased up to 60 percent of Telfar’s stock in a bag drop, and end up hiking up the value of items on sites such as StockX, Grailed, and Poshmark. The Captchas are “actually making it so more people and less bots get bags,” Radboy says, reinforcing the brand’s mantra of “not for you—for everyone.”

Harvard Law School revises a racist emblem after a callout from student activists.

Harvard Law School has been under scrutiny for years due to its problematic shield with imagery of the family crest of Isaac Royall Jr, a founding donor of the institution who accumulated wealth through slavery in the mid-1700s. Described as “a memorial to one of the largest and most brutal slave owners in Massachusetts” and a glorification of slavery, Harvard retired its previous insignia in 2016 and began to rebrand after student activist group Royall Must Fall spearheaded campaigns for its termination. The latest revamped crest nods to the architecture of the university’s Austin and Hauser Halls and replaces the space formerly occupied by three wheat sheaves of the Royall coat of arms.

Alan Heller, prolific designer of affordable yet elegant plastic housewares, dies at 81.

Alan Heller will be known as the man who merged ordinary plastic with high design. Inspired by the minimalist world of Massimo Vignelli, Heller predicated his career on imbuing high design objects with commercial practicality. His bountiful portfolio of design objects, ranging from collaborations with Vignelli and Italian architect Mario Bellini to create sets of Heller dinnerware and the Bellini chairs respectively, stations Heller as a designer for the many. “Without guys like Alan,” says Lester Gribetz, the former vice president of Bloomingdales, “this would be the dullest industry in the world.”

The Powerhouse by Studio Gang in Beloit, Wisconsin. Photography by Tom Harris

Studio Gang transforms a power plant into a dynamic student center in Wisconsin.

Rooted in 100 years of industrial history, a decommissioned coal power plant has been reimagined as a 105,000 square-foot student hub in Beloit, Wisconsin. Fittingly coined “The Powerhouse,” Studio Gang rehabilitated the structure with an approach that saw dated interior systems substituted out for sustainable programs while maintaining touchstones of the building’s architectural heritage. The $38 million restoration features multiple sporting facilities in addition to academic and collaborative spaces. In order to resonate the former factory’s rustic aesthetic, Studio Gang preserved some of the discontinued machinery among the modern upgrades and ultimately repurposed the building’s history to satisfy modern tastes. 

Bjarke Ingels launches a residential design firm focused on modular housing.

Seeking a greater range in modular housing, the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels has partnered with former WeWork executive Roni Bahar and former Sidewalk Labs model lab head Nick Chim to launch Nabr—a residential design company that seeks to rethink how housing is developed and designed. Located in Silicon Valley, Nabr will enable clients to co-design homes tailored to their specific needs. The custom design philosophy brings the well-being of residents to the forefront. “We could embrace modularity as a force to maximize diversity,” says Ingels. “We could create a system that can adapt to people and their environments, not the other way around. So when you’re walking into a neighborhood, you’re not just walking into a home, you’re walking into your home.”

Times Square Wheel. Rendering by Anthony George

Today’s attractive distractions:

Instagram is phasing out the “swipe up” feature in favor of external link stickers.

Lil Nas X, who used to work at Taco Bell, becomes the brand’s chief impact officer.

A giant, 11-story Ferris wheel will pop-up in Times Square through September 12.

SiriusXM dedicates an entire radio station to the most popular songs on TikTok.

All Stories