COS x Paul Cocksedge

Designer Paul Cocksedge reflects on his site-specific light installation at COS’ new store

Reinvented by the acclaimed architectural firm Heatherwick Studio, the historic Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross is open for business. Standing among the rich ironwork of the original Victorian coal drops lies the newly opened COS store, spanning 577sqm, three floors and a mezzanine. Original bricks and wood beams blend with a wash of white, with furniture from the likes of Faye Toogood, Destroyers and Builders and Nendo sitting alongside work from emerging artists Beth Partridge and Torben Eskerod. Showcasing its latest autumn winter collections, the hybrid space illustrates the brand’s varied influences from a range of artists and designers, recently launching with the site-specific installation, Orbits, by acclaimed British designer Paul Cocksedge.

Reflecting the elements relevant to the current COS range – principally the harmony and tension between the natural and material world – Orbits is an arresting bind of metal, rock and light. Honouring the space’s industrial past, the installation encourages multiple viewing perspectives, suggesting attraction, balance and pressure simultaneously.

Having studied industrial design at Sheffield Hallam University and product design under Ron Arad at the Royal College of Art in London, Paul Cocksedge is considered to be one of the UK’s most dynamic young designers. Exploring the spectrum and limits of light, his work is now part of the Victoria & Albert Museum and Pinakothek der Moderne Die Neue Sammlung permanent collections. Port talked to Paul about the project, the joys of collaboration and how to communicate through objects.

What role does flexibility and rigidity have in the work?

I wanted to explore the invisible effects of gravity and how it shapes the world around us. Each of the six flexible metal hoops is pulled into its final shape by rocks of different sizes. The rock is trying to return to the ground, but the hoop of light wants to spring back up – this tension implies movement.

How does Orbits play with light and its form?

We often see light as something rigid and controlled, but with Orbits I wanted to explore how it can become soft, and flexible. We were also exploring the tension between the manmade and the natural – pairing electric light with rock.

Where was the rock sourced?

The rocks came from all over the country, although one of them I smuggled back from Paros, Greece. We wanted to include a range of shapes, colours and textures, that in some way connect with the COS palette.

How did COS work with you on this, creatively?

I’ve always admired the way COS works with creatives, and I’ve followed their collaborations in Milan and London. When we started to talk about ideas and inspirations, there was a connection. We were exploring light and nature, and the opportunity to show a piece of work in London was serendipitous. The architecture of the space really complimented the proportions of the work, and the creative process was very organic and collaborative.

How was the installation influenced by the existing history of the Coal Drops Yard, as well as the Heatherwick renewal?

Our piece fits the proportions of the COS building really well – it communicates with the outside, because you can see it from a distance, but it also fills the space inside. Raw materials were delivered and refined in Coal Drops Yard, and we’ve incorporated that rawness and sense of earthiness into the piece.

What were the opportunities working in the space?

This was a rare chance to design a piece that’s seen from so many angles. Because the store is on several levels, you can see Orbits from beneath, from above, and up close.

Can you expand on the tension between the natural world and man-made objects in the piece, aside from the literal tension?

Controlling the creation of something new, together with the randomness and imperfection of nature, is an exciting combination that somehow makes sense to me. Coal Drops Yard has a similar tension, bringing together the new with buildings and narratives from the past. For me it’s a wonderful addition to London.

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