In an era defined by climate change and ecological concerns, it becomes important to connect with the environment. Open Sky is a large scale sculptural installation by Philip K. Smith III (b. 1972) in collaboration with clothing brand COS, opening during international design fair Salone del Mobile, Milan. The piece occupies the courtyard of the 16th century Palazzo Isimbardi, using mirrors to create a symbiotic relationship between the sky and courtyard floor.
Offering dialogues between the historic architecture and a clean, contemporary aesthetic, Open Sky was inspired by the relationship between the atmosphere and the built environment. The artist notes: “I wanted to pull the sky to the ground – to make it physically present. The idea was to actively and seamlessly merge the beauty of the surrounding architecture and the sky over Milan, creating an ever-changing experience.”
The work is complemented by a series of accompanying smaller reflective pieces in the Palazzo’s adjacent garden. These objects create links between man-made structures and nature, infinitely reconfiguring fragments of the outdoor area. As the practitioner continues: “My work is created in direct response to the surrounding environment, becoming a canvas that interacts with both the urban and natural landscape.”
K. Smith III is known for an ongoing engagement with space and light, and has created a range of monumental interventions in vast topographies. For example, The Circle of Land and Sky in Palm Desert, California, a comprised an arc of reflective bars which reflected and amplified the stark beauty of the region, whilst Lucid Stead, at Joshua Tree, California, transformed a desert cabin into a semi-transparent, mirage-like structure via an innovative use of mirrors. Interacting with the sun’s movements, the works are in a constant state of flux, changing to reflect the time of day. The artist remarks: “Characterised by ever-changing spatial and temporal elements, every visitor’s experience of the installation will be entirely individual.”
The work marks COS’s seventh consecutive installation during the event; previous iterations have included 2017’s New Spring, a collaboration with Studio Swine which took the shape of a blossoming sculpture, and 2015’s Loop, a playful design by Snarkitecture based on the nostalgia of childhood games. 2016 saw the brand work with Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto on Forest of Light, an immersive multisensory experience.
Open Sky runs at Salon del Mobile, Milan, from 17-22 April. Find out more here.
1. Open Sky COS x Phillip K. Smith III. Courtesy of COS.