Cos x Arthur Mamou-Mani (2019)
We sat down for a coffee with architect, Arthur Mamou-Mani and COS creative director, Karin Gustafsson, to discuss their approach to materials, minimalism, sustainability and collaboration to give you a preview into their latest installation and the amazing new materials that have come out of it.
“We are very interested in new craft and innovation…so that’s why we wanted to collaborate. Collaboration is definitely everyday in the way we work at Cos”, says Karin.
How do you approach putting materials together
“It is an instinctive feeling. What feels nice together. In home, I really like a mix of textures but unifying them with colour. I want it to be tactile. Something soft with something hard for example. When we are making a collection we talk about contrasts. Something that is about geometry and has a structure. Next to something that is draped loosely and falling away”
“Interiors are a great way to experiment. I come from an interior background because there is less constraint indoors and we can experiment there before we have to work with more stability for larger scale, outdoor projects”
As with so many of the best design, the process of making is key to the final ‘thing’.
“I try to put my ego away and listen to the techniques the technology and the feedback. The design comes from a listening process” says Arthur.
A structural analysis process is running through the whole design.
“When we first went to present our initial concept it was about taking the shapes of the palazzo and creating a grid from that, then dissolving it. At first it was very curvy, Brancusi like, then we made it more geometric when we started working with cos” he continues.
Materials and the way they are used is key to both COS fashion and the design approach of Mamou-Mani.
“Materials in the Victorian era were expensive but the labour is cheap. So you get these intricate structures. Beautiful. Concrete is cheap and labour became more expensive in more recent history. With tech you can go back to optimising materials.”
“Our approach to materiality and functionality could lend itself to many different fields”
Karin Gustafsson, Creative Director, COS.
Cos x Snarkitecture (2015)
Cos x Studio Swine (2017)
How did you create a bioplastic that is stable?
“The material is not so stable. We have made it stable in the way we structured it. Because we are 3D printing and using an algorithmic approach we can test lots of versions and failure is part of the process. The latice that we ended up with is what we came to after several versions. We are pushing the limits of what is possible”
What is it made of?
“Starch, vinegar and glycerin. We are adding timber to it. The timber is pulped. We use pellets of wood, then it gets crushed and the pulp is mixed with the bio plastic.” Arthur reveals.
In the final large scale installation, there will be 3 types of brick, Clear, White and Timber in a palazzo courtyard. The race is on to get all the bricks 3D printed in time for the install.
“There is now a community of studios that have large scale printers so we are making the pieces all over in order to reach the deadline.”
Could it be a further collaboration?
“There is the immediate afterlife. It is made from bricks. That’s a very British thing. It can be dismantled and remade. There is then the longer afterlife as it is compostable.” says Arthur.
“Then we can use the research to inform what materials we build with in the future”
“Gifting was also part of the idea from the beginning, so if you come to Milan there will be larger ones in wood that we will be giving away” says Karin.
We will be there and hope to get one for ourselves. Either way, our love affair with COS, wearing them and enjoying their design collabs, continues…