For the past five years, fashion brand COS has worked with design studios and architects on a series of conceptual installations during Salone del Mobile in Milan, including Snarkitecture in 2015 and Nendo in 2014. For this year's edition, they collaborated with Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, known for his minimalist yet playful built work that constantly blurs the line between inside and outside, nature and architecture. Actually, it's not the first time the brand has been inspired by Fujimoto's design aesthetic, they also created a pair of special-edition shirts as a tribute to his Serpentine Pavilion in 2013.
For his upcoming installation in Milan, referred to as a "forest of light," Fujimoto will create his most ephemeral space yet. Countless cones of light will emanate from spotlights to define a very abstracted, forest-like space. The lights will pulsate at different intervals of time, inviting people to interact with the space in different ways, meandering through "as if lured by the charm of the light."
The decision to use spotlights was a nod to the historic setting of the exhibition venue, the former Cinema Arti, located in Milan's San Babila district, which was originally built in 1930 but has been derelict for years. Through the installation, Fujimoto says, "the spotlight becomes an interface which connects fashion, space and forest as a form of architecture."
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As Fujimoto explains in the video below, exploring the forest as a concept is one of the central themes of his work. In some projects the idea comes forth very directly— House NA, for example, emulates the structure of a tree with it's staggered, open floor plates that create surprising social and spatial dynamics. Referring to the project, Fujimoto has noted:
"A tree has many branches, all being a setting for a place, and a source of activities of diverse scales. The intriguing point of a tree is that these places are not hermetically isolated but are connected to one another in its unique relativity. To hear one's voice from across and above, hopping over to another branch, a discussion taking place across branches by members from separate branches. These are some of the moments of richness encountered through such spatially dense living."
Sometimes, the forest appears in a more symbolic way. In the Musashino Art University Library & Museum, a maze-like structure of ceiling-high, timber bookshelves creates the sensation of navigating a dense forest.
Fujimoto's installation in Milan will be a similar exercise in evoking the experiential qualities of being within a forest, the glimmering light projections playfully recreating the mysteries of walking through a forest at twilight.
House NA, Tokyo, Japan, 2012 Musashino Art University Library & Museum, Tokyo, Japan, 2010