Why Fashion Favorite COS Has Us Loving Bubbles
Executive editor Kimberley Brown shares why bubble motifs are having a moment.
As thousands of visitors attending Design Miami last December discovered, cradling a fragile bubble in your hands is unexpectedly thrilling. The experience came courtesy of H&M sister label COS and Studio Swine, the London, U.K.-based art/architecture firm founded by married duo Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves. Inspired by Japan’s gorgeous-today-gone-tomorrow cherry blossoms, they designed a tree-like structure that drops mist-filled bubbles from its branches. Touched lightly with textured gloves, the bubbles stay whole. When they burst, they release fragrances inspired by Miami, such as coconut and grapefruit. (When the installation, called New Spring, debuted at Milan Design Week last April, it generated line-ups around the block.) “The piece has a calmness to it that draws you in,” says COS creative director Karin Gustaffson. “At first people are a little bit careful, but then they really want to hold the bubbles and interact with them.”
That sensation lingers long after, too. Ever since New Spring’s Design Miami launch, we’ve been a little obsessed with bubbles — and we’re not the only ones. Click through to see our favorite moments inspired the coolest form of water.
“The starting point for these collaborations is always the shared values and core DNA we stand for,” says Karin Gustaffson, creative director of COS. These include simplicity, timelessness, modernity and utility. From there, Studio Swine set about finding a compelling interpretation. “We wanted to create something that was like nature and universally beautiful, and create a moment,” says Azusa. For Spring, COS clothing includes rounded silhouettes, sheer materials and pale shades that we think tie-in nicely.
“Bubbles are amazing – they form these perfect geometries and then they just disappear into the air,” says Studio Swine’s Alexander Groves. The nearly invisible Bubble Chandelier by Manhattan-based studio Pelle is a modern reinterpretation of traditional crystal chandeliers.
Calico’s Microcosmos Collection of wallpapers by Amsterdam studio BCXSY was inspired by the childhood craft of bubble prints. The patterns originate from the enlarged images of bubbles and conjur the fascinating universes visible through the lenses of a microscope.
Finnish designer Eero Aarnio designed his iconic Bubble Chair in 1968. Made of clear acrylic, it has the same quiet, cocooning effect as his earlier Ball Chair, but lets in light from all directions. Hung from the ceiling, it floats in the air like a soap bubble.
People are still applauding photographer Melvin Sokolsky’s arresting photo of model Simone D’Aillencourt floating in a Plexiglass bubble on the River Seine in Paris. The photo was shot for Harper’s Bazaar magazine in 1963 and was recently spotted in the Toronto home of Catriona Smart, Drake’s go-to party planner.
A round, controlled-bubble-glass base is the signature design flourish of master glass blower Carl Erickson. Carl and his brother Stephen founded a glass factory in Bremen, Ohio in 1943 and were honored with a good design award from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His drinking glasses are quickly snapped up from sites such as 1st dibs and Etsy.
Ukrainian fashion designer Svetlana Bevza sent models down her runway dressed in a Bubble Wrap coat. “We did Bubble Wrap coats because, when you have something fragile, you put it in Bubble Wrap,” she told Vogue. A few years earlier, designer Helmut Lang employed the packing material in a similar way for his 2003 spring menswear collection.
French designer Pierre Stephane Dumas’ bubble-like tents take glamping to a whole new level.
The imperfect, undulating shape of the recycled glass Wells Bubble vases captures the way bubbles look when they move through the air. Their soft, watery blue colour adds to the effect.
Dutch genre artists of the Golden Age often used bubbles as a symbol for the transitory nature of life. Their message: it’s best to appreciate the preciousness and beauty of life. French artist Jean Siméon Chardin’s 1734 painting “Soap Bubbles” was inspired by the era.