This summer Swedish brand COS are sponsoring The Serpentine’s Park Nights, a series of performances, film screenings and talks taking place in the 2013 Pavilion, designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. As a brand heavily inspired by and intertwined with the art world, COS has collaborated with the gallery to offer a diverse programme of events in Fujimoto’s breathtaking white steel lattice structure. Ahead of the first talk, later this month, we spoke to COS head designers Karin Gustafsson and Martin Andersson.
Dazed Digital: For the past three years COS has sponsored Frame, the initiative which promotes emerging artists at Frieze Art Fair. What motivated your involvement and sponsorship of the Serpentine Park Nights this year?
Karin Gustafsson: We loved working with Frame at Frieze London; it was wonderful to be able to support those up and coming galleries and give something back to the art world. It felt like the right time to take on a new exciting project with the world renowned Serpentine gallery.
Martin Andersson: The Galley’s core values of accessibility, support of up and coming artists and education also appeals to us and reflects parts of the COS DNA. Supporting the Park Night Series specifically interested us for its diversity and performances and really allows the spectators to have a holistic experience within the pavilion space.
DD: Sou Fujimoto’s Serpentine pavilion focuses on the idea of a primitive future and he experiments with purposefulness, combining instinctive and imaginative forms of creation. Functionality is also evidently central to COS design. Do you share similar creative concerns with Fujimoto?
Karin Gustafsson: The summer pavilion is striking in its design, it feels very clean and functional and yet almost dreamlike. It definitely seems to experiment with purposefulness, something close to our brand; our starting point with every garment is functionality and a sense of modernism. What we really love about the Pavilion is the changing nature of it year after year. It creates a wonderful environment for the Park Night series and in turn inspires the participants to create something unique for the space.
Martin Andersson: I read that Sou Fujimoto’s work is inspired by organic structures, this is something we definitely share, we have looked to nature year after year for inspiration for prints, different weaves and cuts.
DD: It is evident when stepping into COS that art is intrinsically linked with the brand as the stores are designed like modern gallery spaces to showcase the collections. Who are you favourite artists and how does their work inspire you?
Karin Gustafsson: Thank you that is really nice to hear, we have tried very hard to develop a store environment that feels clean, fresh and relaxing for our customers. It is so difficult to say who my favourite artist is as it changes all the time. I love all of the work of Mark Rothko, his use of colour is unlike any other artist and has inspired me year after year.
Martin Andersson: For our upcoming autumn/winter collection we were incredibly inspired by the photography of horses taken by Steven Klein, the colour and sheen of the horses’ skin is incredible and an echo of it can definitely be seen in some of our fabric finishes next season. The Bronze exhibition at the Royal Academy last year was incredible, everyone in our team that visited found it so inspiring and you can definitely see details in the collection which reflect this.
DD: What is your favourite piece of art?
Martin Andersson: Personally one of my enduring influences is the architecture of Mies van der Rohe. I reference his famous quote ‘Less is More’ on a daily basis. The Bauhaus movement he was associated with is incredibly inspiring for everyone at COS; I believe it can be applied to fashion as at its core it is about a minimalistic and functional ideal.
Karin Gustafsson: We often find ourselves referring back to the American and Danish modernists furniture designers from the 50s - Eames, Juhl, Wegner and Jacobsen. Finn Juhl’s use of organic shapes and soft lines in modernist furniture is particularly inspiring.
DD: Is there a building that particularly influences your work, be it a place to retreat to or direct design inspiration?
Martin Andersson: We take inspiration from the design work of Charles and Ray Eames, we visited their home and studio in LA last year and found it incredible and super inspiring.
Karin Gustafsson: Salt and Sill’s floating hotel on the west coast of Sweden is a wonderful design; I love the idea of the sauna floating around the archipelago, surrounded by nature.
DD: Is your involvement in art projects and your support of both emergent and established creatives a considered decision to make COS a multifaceted and meaningful lifestyle brand?
Martin Andersson: We feel our involvement with art focussed projects is a distinct way of giving something back to the design world from where we draw our inspiration, whether it be through support of established art foundations like Park Nights at the Serpentine Gallery or showcasing art students work in the COS store windows. It also gives us the opportunity to represent the COS personality and interests to our customers and hopefully engage their interest in the design world that we feel so passionately for.
Park Nights runs from 26th July – 27th October at the Serpentine Gallery