COS, a brand that draws inspiration from art and architecture, and design office Studio Swine joined forces for Salone del Mobile. The result was the interactive New Spring installation that appeals to different senses.

We visit Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan, where the world of design meets, to explore the New Spring installation at Cinema Arti born from the collaboration between COS and Studio Swine. We slightly open the curtain but before entering the dimly lit hall of Cinema Arti, the attendant hands us a pair of black gloves. Without any inkling of what to do with them, we enter the hall and are welcomed by a white sculpture that resembles a giant tree in the middle of the wide space. Reinterpreted with the code of aesthetic of the craft of Italian furniture, the tree form lets down new balloons every minute; the process of slow ripening and flying of balloons resembles the budding of flowers. Following our childlike reflex, we try to catch the balloons but they burst the moment we grasp them, leaving us to witness its transition into a gray smoke. That’s when we learn the secret of the gloves we’ve been given: When we put them on, we can play with the balloons for a while, and add a few more seconds to their fleeting life-span.

COS – A decade full of design

Having become an essential part of the wardrobe by blending its Scandinavian heritage with a European vision, COS celebrates its 10th anniversary in the industry. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that its idiosyncratic identity lies in its multidimensional interaction with the realms of art and design because, since its foundation, COS has made collaborations with some of the world’s most notable art and design platforms. COS Communication director Atul Pathak explains this organic relationship with these words: “Art and design perfectly coincide with everything we do at COS. Our customers also share our passion for art and design.” Having supported the Frame section at London Frieze Art Fair in 2010, COS has been on the move ever since. It’s continued its collaborations at Salone del Mobile installations (since 2012), and the culture and art events titled Park Nights at London Serpentine Galleries. Last year, COS received great praise for its collaboration with Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto’s light forest installation at Salone del Mobile, the world’s most prestigious furniture fair, which it visits for the sixth time with an installation that caters to different senses and is inspired by nature.

New Forest: A design experience that caters to different senses

Studio Swine, with which COS collaborated this season for Salone del Mobile, is a familiar name for those who closely follow the design and art scene. Founded by Japanese architect Azusa Murakami and British artist Alexander Groves, Studio Swine makes inspiring works that feed on design and various branches of visual arts. Having been given numerous international prestigious awards including Cannes Film Festival Young Director Award, Design Miami/Basel Designers of the Future Award, Wallpaper Design Award, and Maison&Objet Rising Talents Award, Studio swine focuses on many subjects from local identities to globalization’s relationship with the environment.

In line with this vision, the 6-meter-tall sculpture New Spring is built with recyclable aluminum. Meant to portray an imaginary tree, the branches resemble spectacular chandeliers we’re familiar to see at dazzling Italian palazzos. The design duo was inspired by Italian director Federico Fellini’s Casanova, which features a scene in which giant chandeliers slowly descend, and the details of these chandeliers decorated with candles. Bearing a constant interest in the language of cinema and visual arts, Studio Swine’s another source of inspiration is the Seven Samurai, another cult movie from the history of cinema. As if to pay homage to cherry blossoms, the New Spring releases balloons it nourishes while visitors become a part of this experience by spectating or touching them.

Every detail in New Spring bears traces of Studio Swine’s innovative vision. The duo has made countless experiments until they found a way for the balloons to burst into a cloud of dust. The fact that they offer a different experience when touched with a glove is an homage to fashion. The installation offers a holistic experience from sound to smell. The team worked with a perfumery workshop to create the fragrance that the bursting balloons emit, and aimed at putting together a scent that reminds visitors of the spring. Budding branches, blooming flowers, and the fresh scent of the earth… A surprising combination of different scents that we associate with the season of nature’s awakening enables us to make a connection with New Spring from the very start.

Our second meeting with New Spring at Cinema Arti the day after the private press view was a bit more crowded. Children threw off their shows to one side and joyfully run around the balloons while adults tried to catch the balloons – with or without the gloves – as happily as the younger ones. Each visitor had a different interaction and a memory with New Spring while they became a part of this design experience as a whole. The idea of blending design with the concept of public space actually originates in the glamorous Italian fountains. Situated in the city’s popular squares and having become a meeting place for the people, the idea of the fountains is reflected in New Spring, offering visitors the opportunity to be a part of this public design experience.

One of the most talked about installations at Salone del Mobile throughout the week, New Spring received the Best Interaction Award at Milan Design Week. It was hard to disagree with the jury who emphasized the sensational quality of the installation because you couldn’t help but let yourself go with a poetic flow. As if mimicking life, balloons drift off from the sculpture’s arms and toward you, turning into dust at the end of its journey. You succumb to this beauty hidden in simplicity, and enjoy this eternal spring. After leaving Cinema Arti to stroll the streets of Milan to explore new designs, the feeling left by New Spring continues to accompany you on your journey.