COS at Salone del Mobile 2013

Port’s design editor Alyn Griffiths talks to Martin Andersson, the head of menswear at COS about how design inspires their collections

COS display at the Salone del Mobile 2013
Photography Owen Richards

It’s the week of the Milan Furniture Fair. The city’s streets are buzzing with chat about chairs and every available space has been commandeered as a showroom for shiny new furniture and products. I’ve only been here a short while but am already in need of some respite from the bewildering onslaught of visual stimuli. I find it on the first floor of a large warehouse in the gritty and vibrant industrial area of Lambrate. Within a large, light-filled space, French creative studio Bonsoir Paris has built a quiet and technically sophisticated installation for Swedish fashion brand COS, which is the antithesis of so much of the shouty design on show elsewhere. It’s the second year running that COS has exhibited as part of design week, and Martin Andersson, head of menswear design, explains that its presence here reflects the brand’s interest in design as a source of inspiration. “We often look to colours, textures and shapes used in architecture and interior design when creating the new collections,” he says. “Hopefully visitors can see that influence in the clothes we’re presenting.”

“The design of the clothes focuses a lot on details and we took the same approach when developing the installation”

Photography Owen Richards

For Rémy Clémente and Morgan Maccari of Bonsoir Paris, inspiration for the installation’s modular design came from children’s toys, such as the classic straws and connectors kits. “By combining the elements in different ways you can create many variations for use in different spaces,” Maccari points out. “You can use it indoors or outdoors and it adapts to the existing architecture.” The framework is constructed from wooden poles that slot into holes in precisely moulded spherical junctions to form a structurally solid yet visually minimal backdrop for the garments. “We wanted to create an environment where people can relax and appreciate the clothes, which act like punctuation in the space,” adds Clémente. Having regularly collaborated with fashion labels on art direction and editorial projects, Clémente and Maccari are adept at translating the values of these brands into appropriate set pieces. “The design of the clothes focuses a lot on details and we took the same approach when developing the installation,” explains Maccari. Elements including the brass bolts that connect the poles to the sockets and the concrete ballasts resting on cork bases add a necessary touch of whimsy and tactility to what is otherwise an unequivocally pared back design. The installation’s lightness of touch and serene atmosphere is refreshingly original in this week of bombastic design statements, and is perfectly aligned with the COS brand. Feeling calmer and revitalised, I head back out onto into the chaos. COS X Bonsoir Paris is at Via Ventura 5 in Milan until 14 April