In a showcase of aesthetic reflection, a new pop-up in downtown Los Angeles features the clean lines of Swedish fashion retailer COS in a sparse, but thoughtful environment by the Brooklyn-based design firm Snarkitecture. 'The stars aligned,' says Fredrik Carlstrom, founder of the Scandinavian design showroom Austere, which is hosting the installation until the end of the week. 'I think our brands and aesthetics line up nicely.'
With 138 stores in 27 countries, COS is known for bringing refined simplicity to a broader audience; the pop-up at Austere is the brand’s first outpost in east Los Angeles, after opening its first U.S. store in Beverly Hills last year. 'When briefing creatives we tend to have a pretty carte blanche approach; we work with people who generally have a similar aesthetic to us and who have inspired us for the collection,' says Karin Gustafsson, co-head of design at COS, who first worked with the design duo Snarkitecture on an installation for the Salone del Mobile in Milan. 'As a brand we have undertaken various retail installations over the years and love to see the way designers reinterpret our core DNA,' she continues.
On powder-coated cutouts that serve as both graphic signage and room dividers, Snarkitecture drew out essential pieces of the new silhouette, beloved by a certain set of creatives in urban enclaves worldwide: a wider pant, a rounded neck, an architectural coat, and a split-sleeve shirt dress. Hanging on long racks, the clothing display echoes across two parallel rooms and on two floors, and also in a ceiling-height mirror.
Alex Mustonen, co-founder of Snarkitecture, says he found inspiration for the retail project by studying tone and shape details in the current COS collection, including a recurring dusty pink and angular cuts. 'When you look at the visuals, there is an obvious kinship in the minimalist and often monochromatic palette that we’re operating within,' Mustonen says. 'Both of us are interested in reduction and simplicity: how can you do the most with the least, and taking away everything that’s not necessary.'