COS and Studio Swine branch out in Miami with scented bubble installation
At this year’s Design Miami, COS teamed up once more with Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves of Studio Swine to showcase an updated version of the London studio’s specially commissioned bubble tree installation. Having made its debut earlier this year in Milan, the installation was moved to Miami and showcased in The Temple House, a bright art deco building. Basking in the Miami sunshine, the sculptural tree took on a lighter and altogether more joyful persona in its new Floridian home.
The project began over a year ago when Studio Swine were approached by COS to come up with something for Salone del Mobile. The duo set about researching the city of Milan, drawing inspiration from its neoclassical arches and columns. ‘We knew that it was going to be shown during the spring, so we were thinking about things that evoke the passing of the season,’ explains Groves. ‘We looked in particular at the Japanese cherry blossom festival – the cherry blossoms only last a week but they bring everyone in the city outside together.’
From this, the idea for a tree-like structure that flowered mist-filled bubbles was born. As the bubbles grow from the tree’s white arching branches, they fall to the ground and dissolve into eerie white mist as they burst. Equipped with special gloves, visitors walk below the branches catching and popping the bubbles as they descend.
New Spring installation by Studio Swine and COS
‘It was received really well in Milan,’ said Groves of the project, which was a year in the making. ‘The most encouraging thing was to see how people engaged with it.’ Now revamped for Miami - larger and infused with five specially tailored scents – the sculpture is provoking a more playful response from visitors this time around.
‘In Milan, it was quite cinematic and more church-like in a way,’ ponders Groves, ‘which is perhaps why people felt like they had to speak in hushed voices. We were really excited to bring it here and reconfigure it slightly.’
‘It’s essentially the same form,’ he continues. ‘We made it with a very minimal design, so I think it responds to the situation it’s in very differently. In Milan it was displayed in the dark in a 1930s cinema, and here it’s a 1930s art deco building and drenched in light. It’s much more in rhythm with the art deco nature of the building here, which it wasn’t intentionally designed for, but it so happens that it worked.’
Murakami adds: ‘It had a weightiness in Milan, the space was a very theatrical with the dark curtains. You didn’t really get a sense of space, whereas here, you’re very much aware of the surroundings. The white really brings out the iridescence in the bubbles and the beautiful white arches of the buildings are echoed in the sculpture.’
In addition to the five Floridian flora-inspired scents that fill the bubbles, the duo also commissioned a Florida-inspired soundtrack that pays homage to the wildlife of the surrounding everglades. ‘We wanted something that was lighter in feeling,’ says Murakami.
Upstairs a pop-up concept store with selected pieces from the COS collection leads through to a dazzling white room headed up by an inflatable sea foam-inspired bubble sculpture that is floating in a pool. ‘We wanted the store to have a feeling of an actual installation,’ said COS creative director Karin Gustafsson. ‘We used different shades of white and grey – we wanted it to be a tactile experience.’
Of working with Studio Swine, Gustafsson added: ‘It’s been an inspiring project for us from the beginning, and we have a customer who really shares this interest with us. The audiences that come to Milan and Miami are our customer. Installations like this provide us with a chance to talk about who we are, who we find inspiring and share it with them.’
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