London-based fashion brand COS unveiled Open Sky, a large-scale sculptural installation by artist Phillip K. Smith III, site-specific to Milan’s Palazzo Isimbardi on view during Salone del Mobile 2018.
‘At COS, we have been inspired by the way Phillip K. Smith III’s works interact with their natural surroundings allowing us to experience spaces in unique new ways and are thrilled to share Open Sky with the public. We cannot wait to see how the visitors respond to his work in this exciting new location. It is an honour for us to collaborate with such talented creatives who reshape the way we see the world around us and from who we derive so much of our inspiration at COS’, said Karin Gustafsson, Creative Director of COS.
Phillip K. Smith III noted of the installation, ‘My work is inspired by the constant shifts in light, colour, and form that are presented in the natural and built environment. It was exciting to work with COS on an open brief within the inspiring architectural landscape of Milan. The specific site conditions of Palazzo Isimbardi afforded me an opportunity to reframe the historic architecture while meshing it with the enveloping beauty of the Milanese sky. While the installation will certainly create an overall shared group experience, each person will also leave the Palazzo with their own unique experience... unique to the time of day, to the specifics of the sky at that moment, and dependent entirely on their path of experience. Each participant is in control of how the sky and architecture merge across the nearly 14 metre diameter surface. I am truly looking forward to witnessing how the work is encountered throughout the week.”
Open Sky transforms the overhead square of sky of Palazzo Isimbardi’s courtyard into a grounded, physical ring of reflected sky. Upon entry into the courtyard, one is faced with the tactile, yet abstract presence of the immense, circular form. Moving through the colonnade to the far side of the courtyard, the Palazzo’s 16th century architecture is seen angularly reconfigured across the faceted, reflective surface. Approaching the centre of the installation, the angle of reflection shifts and the architecture dynamically pulls away like a curtain, opening up the sky. At the centre, one is fully encircled by the sublime, slowly paced physicality of the sky’s changing colour gradient and the shifting clouds. It is an installation that is always in a constant state of flux as the colours of the environment shift, as the light of the day changes, and as the viewer moves through the space, resulting in an entirely unique experience for every individual that can never be replicated.
Moving through the courtyard and into the Palazzo’s adjoining English garden, visitors will find five free-standing sculptures with both horizontally and vertically folded reflective skins that use the greenery and trees of the garden, the surrounding architecture and the sky overhead as visible material. These variable samplings of the garden space are reconfigured or re-collaged across the sculpture surfaces, compressing space while evidencing the precise colours and evolving atmosphere of the day.
The installation marks COS’s seventh consecutive installation during Salone del Mobile and its first collaboration with Phillip K. Smith III.
Inspired by the garden works, Smith has created a series of smaller scale window displays at select COS stores that shift the world of reflection to the streetscape. Variably sized, angled, and composed, while being globally located and on view for the duration of Salone del Mobile, the experience of these works at each store location is entirely unique to the city in which they are placed.