From Murakami to FriendsWithYou: Kevin Poon Talks Co-Curating ‘Unboxed’

The last time the whole wild world needed something as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as this weekend’s Unboxed was 1918, when a large swath of society had come down with the so-called Spanish Flu. Back then though, sufferers didn’t have the luxury of blowing their own minds into other galaxies from the comfort of their very own homes. They didn’t have the infrastructure to have subsequently discovered wonders delivered to their very own doorsteps either. No, back then people were lucky to have a landline. Damn lucky. Any communicating beyond that came strictly from telepathy.

We, thank Zeus, have the technology to help us deal with things. We’ve also got visionaries like Kevin Poon and Mr., both of whom have teamed up with NTWRK to present the mind-blowing product drop carrying the marquee Unboxed

Mr., of course, is the Murakami protege whose own wild-eyed art highly celebrates the otaku culture in which he’s centered. Poon is the kind of multi-dimensionalist whose many talents gives talents like Mr. a mass appeal. Co-founder of high-cred streetwear brand CLOT, which is sold in his own JUICE outlets, spread by his own District Distribution, and hyped by his own Social/Capital, Poon didn’t just take the game mastered by the likes of Supreme, he built a whole new field to play it upon. And by play we do mean play – first for the sheer, exhilarating fun of the game; then for the ultimate thrill of winning. Oh, it’s not that Poon set his eyes on the prize from the get; he didn’t need to. The prize just came to him naturally, as it would any many-hued hustler with a keen and practiced eye.

And Poon does indeed have some eye, which makes him the perfect curator for Unboxed. Among the many artists he’s assembled to makes exclusive drops are Kidrobot + Murda Beatz, FriendsWithYou, Case Studio, Madsaki, Superplastic, Dan Life, Masters of the Universe, Kaikai Kiki Co. Ltf, Frank Kozik and BE@RBRICK, as well as the master Takashi Murakami himself, plus the legendary Rammellzee. And each and every drop promises to be as divine and indefinable as the artists themselves. 

We reached out to Poon in Hong Kong on the eve of this weekend’s Unboxed to get the who, what, where and why.

Who approached who – did NTWRK come to you about Unboxed or did you go to them?

I have been a friend and fan of what Aaron Levant has been doing for quite some time now. We have always been talking about doing something together, so when this opportunity came up and Aaron showed me his idea to do Unboxed, I was excited to be a part of this and help curate items for the virtual show.

How far along was the bright idea at this time?

The idea was already I would say pretty far along. He had confirmed Mr. to be the main artist and had a few ideas already in the works, so for me it was more about adding some touches to it and amplifying the message. I am very happy to be involved in Unboxed and I think you will be excited to see what we have created together.

What elements were added once you and Mr. agreed to team on the project?

The time constraint was a bit limiting, but it was more about putting some nice touches to what was already a great setup and to add some personal flavor to the show.

Were you aware of NTWRK’s previous virtual festivals TRANSFER and BEYOND THE STREETS?

Yes, and they were both great in their respective niches. I hope Unboxed will have the same effect if not more.

What was it about those events that you found particularly striking?

Well, what I found interesting on Transfer is that Aaron and his team were able to source a lot of different products from around the world, including having Futura and Edison on board, as well as Zack Bia. I think they are great touches and all very influential and dialed in to what people like. Beyond the Streets was also epic in its own right.

Had you already been aware of other NTWRK endeavors as well?

Livestream shopping is something that is really popular and that has been going on in Asia for quite some time now and has now been accelerated since the pandemic. To now see the American or Western take on it is very interesting, and I’m excited to interact with people around the world.

You’ve done a gazillion different things – was a livestream shopping experience something you’d previously considered in your grand scheme of things?

Honestly, I still prefer an In Real Life component, but I guess what Livestream offers is being able to be in the comfort of your own home and space and still be entertained, and with clicks of a button what you want will be shipped and delivered to your doorstep. I think that’s quite amazing.

Between the gab and the goods, are there any particular designer creators who you’re particularly excited about featuring?

We have a lot of amazing stuff in the works, Mr. has done a lot of great products. Rammellzee is also really one artist that my friends and I really like, so to have that included in the lineup is amazing. Madsaki is also a dear friend of ours, and to see his artworks of the He-Man collection made into actual collectible toys is something I want to get even for myself personally. Kasing Lung also is great…and for the rest please tune in.

How was your experience teaming with Mr. and the entire NTWRK gang?

Mr. was super easy to work with. He’s a great guy, and very quirky, so we connect on that wavelength. He is also super agreeable…and yeah his art is great. Sometimes he will get into performance art too, so maybe you will get to see that on Unboxed.

At the end of another insanely productive day, how would you say Unboxed fits into Kevin Poon’s many-hued world?

Unboxed is basically things that I collect on a regular basis, and picking toys is always fun and never work. So I am very blessed to be part of this and hope to see you guys and girls enjoy this years edition.

Unboxed takes place Saturday and Sunday, February 13th and 14th from 8amPST on the NTWRK app.  

Images courtesy NTWRK and Unboxed

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