during milan design week, those entering the historic cinema arti discovered an ethereal and enthralling landscape — one that drew them in to a mysterious and misty abyss. named ‘new spring’, the sublime installation has sprung from the artistic collaboration of international fashion brand COS and london-based studio swine. japanese architect azusa murakami and british artist alexander groves of studio swine envisioned an immersive and multi-sensory experience surrounding a larger-than-life sized botanical sculpture. the six meter high installation produced mist-filled blossoms that burst upon contact with skin, but lingered when met with textured fabrics. 

 

 

on april 6th, designboom co-hosted an evening in conversation with murakami and groves of studio swine, delving into the making process of ‘new spring’, its manifold influences, and the creative collaboration with COS. the duo drew from the characteristics of milan in thinking about the scale, shape and structure of the botanical installation, looking towards the city’s significant art and design history. the approach to ‘new spring’ evolved from mid-century cinema to modernist design, looking towards everything from italian lighting and spherical bulbs, to the sweeping arched lamps that line the city’s streetscape. furthermore, the studio drew from the dark and hazy atmosphere of the cinema to create a dramatic chiaroscuro effect within the interior environment.

COS studio swine
an immersive and multi-sensory experience surrounds a larger-than-life sized botanical sculpture

 

 

‘with all of our projects, we always begin with an in-depth research of the place that we’re creating the object in,’ murakami told designboom at the live discussion. I suppose the first thing we did was to do a big research on the history of milan — drawing inspiration from the city. we looked at these beautiful artisan marble columns and beautiful baroque milanese interiors, as well as the murano chandeliers that you find in a palazzo — particularly how the way that they’re hand blown gives them a really organic feel. we also looked at post-war industrial designers like castiglioni, and the forms he was using to express industrial progression. we took all of that research, and our thinking about the core DNA of COS — like modernity and timelessness — and merged it all together to come up with this form.’

COS studio swine
visitors were drawn in to a mysterious and misty abyss
image © designboom

 

 

the botanical sculpture’s 30 arms each emitted a continuous cycle of delicate, mist-filled blossoms — 1 bubble every 8 seconds. as they slowly and gracefully fell to the ground — a hypnotizing and spellbinding sight — the orbs formed a surprising reaction upon contact with visitors. those wearing special gloves, given out at the entrance to ‘new spring’, were able to hold the blossoms momentarily, softly embracing them within their hands. when touched with skin, the bubbles burst, emitting one of three subtle yet distinctive scents. ‘you can see that it’s very industrial, but when you get inside it, you feel that you’re really immersed in nature,’ murakami continued.

COS studio swine
the installation produced mist-filled blossoms that burst upon contact with skin

 

 

making the installation produce ephemeral blossoms in this way required studio swine to re-consider a deceptively simple activity — bubble blowing. ‘one of the things that we kind of underestimated was the human touch that’s required to blow bubbles,’ groves told designboom at the discussion. ‘you know, it seems simple, kids blow bubbles…but to replicate that in a mechanical way requires a certain sensitivity and calibration.’

COS studio swine
the bubbles slowly and gracefully fell to the ground — a hypnotizing and spellbinding sight

 

 

particularly challenging was getting the bubbles to fall downwards from the buds — at a rate of 200 blossoms per minute — despite them being filled with water vapor. in speaking about their tangibility and their physical properties, groves told designboom that the blossoms are ‘essentially water, air and a little soap. obviously there’s a lot of technology that’s been developed, and we’re really fortunate to have really great fabricators in london that have been prototyping and developing devices for this.’

COS studio swine
the botanical sculpture’s 30 arms each emitted a continuous cycle of mist-filled blossoms
image © designboom

 

 

‘new spring’ marks COS’ sixth specially commissioned collaboration for milan design week. ‘we have been inspired by the thoughtfulness of studio swine’s work for some time now and are so thrilled to see ‘new spring’ coming to life,’ karin gustafsson, creative director of COS says‘I hope their idea for this year’s installation will capture the imagination of those who visit. it is a joy for us to invite such talented creatives to collaborate and ultimately for us to engage with the creative community we draw inspiration from so regularly at COS.’

 

 

video of the installation on designboom’s dedicated @milan.design.week instagram

 

 

in conjunction with ‘new spring’, studio swine has also presented a selection of work in COS’ brera and corso venezia stores. pieces on display include ‘hair highway’ — a contemporary interpretation of the ancient silk road, with various objects made from human hair; and elements from the ‘fordlandia’ collection — a recent project that sought to revive henry ford’s lost utopia in the amazon rainforest.

COS studio swine
making the installation produce ephemeral blossoms required the studio to re-consider the act of bubble blowing

COS studio swine
the orbs formed a surprising reaction upon contact with visitors

cos-studio-swine-designboom-01
the blossoms burst upon contact with skin 
gif © designboom

COS studio swine
a subtly scented mist was produced when each of the blossoms burst 

COS studio swine
taking in the physical surroundings, studio swine sought to create a cinematic mood within the installation

COS studio swine
japanese architect azusa murakami and british artist alexander groves of studio swine at ‘new spring’

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