American artist Phillip K. Smith III has unveiled a large-scale installation made up of a faceted wall of mirrors for fashion brand COS during Milan Design Week.
Situated in the 16th-century Palazzo Isimbardi, Open Sky is inspired by its site, both in terms of its architecture and surrounding nature.
“‘My work is inspired by the constant shifts in light, colour, and form that are presented in the natural and built environment,” said Smith. He added that COS had given him an open brief, which resulted in him using the site as an inspiration for the overall installation.
“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,” he said.
The circular installation allows for the architecture of the site and the sky overhead to interact, pulling the sky towards the ground.
Upon entering the courtyard, and moving through the colonnade to the far side of the site, the Palazzo’s 16th century architecture is visibly reconfigured across the faceted, reflective surface through angular reflections.
Once visitors approach the centre of the installation, the angles of reflection shifts and the architecture dynamically pulls away like a curtain, opening up the sky. At the centre, visitors come full circle to the sky’s changing colour gradient and the shifting clouds.
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.
The installation is open from 17-22 April.
Open Sky is COS’s seventh in installation for Milan Design Week, having previously worked with designers including Studio Swine and Sou Fujimoto who created an installation using only light and shadow.
This year’s Milan Design Week also marks a growing participation from Middle East. Read designMENA’s guide to exhibitions and projects by Middle East-based designers in Milan.