Man at His Best

ESQ&A: Snarkitecture's Alex Mustonen Speaks On Their Third Installation For COS

Why the artist encourages interacting with art and cross-pollinating ideas.

BY Eugene Lim | Jan 31, 2018 | Design

Image by COS

Esquire: What elements of the COS collection inspired the Loop installation?

Alex Mustonen: There are two things that we wanted to explore with this project. The first is the idea of technical precision, where we used this marble with the sphere as an architectural material, and multiplied it to fill up space. There’s something interesting about the contrast at play between the spheres — it’s almost liquid-like when set against this technically precise structure that then becomes the track.

Even more directly connected to the COS collection is the second aspect, which is the colour choice. The shade of blue is actually drawn from the Fall/Winter ’17 collection. We were most attracted to it because it feels very ethereal as a kind of sky-like presence, but at the same time, it’s very cold and technical.

Esquire: Does the concept of time play a huge part in your work?

Alex Mustonen: On some level, it’s more about how we affect our environment and engage with it in a physical and tactile way, and how that might change over time. While this installation is not really about time, there are elements of time at play. Like the way marble “drips” into the first drop: where it came from is a mystery, but it’s also a mystery as to what it will look like tomorrow, or a week from now, or a month from now. Do the marbles take over the entire space? Do they spill out?

There’s something about the cyclical nature of the track, a randomness to the way the spheres move through it, yet there’s also a mechanical measure of how you see them move and the way they turn.

Esquire: Do you encourage interaction with your installations?

Alex Mustonen: Definitely. For us, it’s directly related to our goal of making architecture accessible and engaging, creating moments that invite people from all backgrounds, disciplines and walks of life to experience meaningful environments. To step away from being in front of a screen and into a real space. To have things that you can touch because physical engagement is really important.

Alex Mustonen Of Snarkitecture

Esquire: What are your thoughts on collaborations?

Alex Mustonen: When we started Snarkitecture, we were interested in cross-disciplinary collaborations and looking outside our primary discipline, which, for me, is architecture, and [Snarkitecture co-founder] Daniel [Arsham], art.

We find that the unexplored space between is more productive and exciting than staying only within our disciplines.

But I also think we’re interested in seeing what happens when we cross over into other spaces. When we collaborate with other designers or a fashion label, we’re curious to see what kind of project will result from these conversations.

Esquire: From the first project to the third and current one for COS, do you feel more comfortable revealing more of Snarkitecture in the work?

Alex Mustonen: I feel like the first project had more elements of Snarkitecture, because it was so white and monochromatic, while the subsequent ones had more colour. This is maybe us being drawn into COS’ world and thinking about colour more, which is kind of an interesting question for us. 

I see the projects as obviously being Snarkitecture ones because they were created and designed by us, but I see it going both ways too, because our collaboration with COS inspired us.

There’s something very playful about this project. It’s more engaging and interactive than the others, but at the same time, it is very abstract.

I don’t think an image of the installation actually helps you understand what it is or what you’re looking at. But when you’re in the space, hearing and interacting with it, then you grasp what’s happening.

It’s a design that requires your engagement or presence to comprehend.

This feature was first published in the print edition of Esquire Singapore, January 2018.