Photosynthesis usually goes unnoticed. This Milan Design Week though, fashion brand COS are appointing architectural and urban design studio ecoLogicStudio to elevate the biological process to a palazzo stage for its ninth Salone del Mobile showcase this April.

Bringing biotechnology to the cultural Italian epicentre, the installation will see nature and science in a new design dialogue. EcoLogicStudio’s experimental theatre will nod to circularity by presenting photosynthesising microalgae within the walls of the 16th century Palazzo Isimbardi – the living organism will quite literally be removing carbon from the environment, something that us humans are striving to reduce everyday.

In addition to its innovative and sustainable angle, the immersive space takes inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci’s studies on water and the palazzo’s historic features – a connector between our aspiring future and investigative past.  

Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto cofounded ecoLogicStudio in 2005, and with this commission were keen to highlight the possibilities of microalgae as a small yet powerful body. The duo has been experimenting within the biosphere in exhibitions at institutions including Centre Pompidou, and with major university research spaces. ‘We have been working for several years with the regenerative capability of many of our planet’s organisms to design circular processes converting what our cities expel into sustainable raw materials and nutrients.’

The London-based practice follows on from Phillip K Smith III’s reflective installation of 2018, and architect Arthur Mamou-Mani’s part-pavilion, part-sculpture year, that saw him push the boundaries of printed technology. ‘Sustainability and material innovation have always been at the core of COS,’ says Karin Gustafsson, creative director of COS. ‘We were drawn to the idea that the future of design and architecture will be focused on introducing solutions that help the world move forward sustainably, and this interactive structure will explore the design innovations and interventions that are possible through nature.’

EcoLogicStudio’s living and breathing scientific sculpture will be offering visitors cleaner air come April, during Salone de Mobile 21-25 April. §