KAWS, BFF (Open Edition) BLACK, 2017. Courtesy of Marcel Katz Art.

In 2016, KAWS debuted a new character at the Central Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand: a 26-foot tall, bright blue creature called BFF. Like KAWS’s signature “Companion” figures, BFF has crossed-out eyes, gloved hands, and oversized ears. But BFF’s furry exterior—reminiscent of the woolly texture of Sesame Street’s Elmo—was unprecedented for the street artist, whose sculptures typically had a smooth finish. To celebrate this public installation, KAWS released 1,000 plush versions of the character, which sold out in just two and a half hours. One year later, KAWS designed a vinyl blue BFF in collaboration with the MoMA design store—once again, it was met with viral success, driving so much traffic to the museum’s website that it crashed. In the years since, the family of BFFs has only grown: vinyl standing BFFs in black and pink, a blue seated BFF that doubles as a glow-in-the-dark lamp, large-scale public sculptures in Los Angeles and Hunan, China, and a plush pink BFF clad in a Dior suite to celebrate the brand’s 2018 showing at Paris Fashion Week.

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