A sample from M/M (Paris)’s “alphabet”

An Icelandic metropolis is inverting protocol by building its public art first and the actual city second. French graphic design duo Mathias Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag, known as M/M (Paris), have cast a life-size bronze “tree” formed by letters from an alphabet they invented for the cover of Björk’s 2004 album Medúlla. This winter they will “plant” the tree in the center of a planned, but not yet built, community outside of Reykjavik. “Trees are very rare in Iceland,” says Augustyniak. The pair collaborated with Icelandic artist Gabríela Fridriksdóttir, a friend of Björk’s, to make the tree’s seven fantastical “fruits” (they look like something “in between mammals and fish,” says Augustyniak), and French author Stéphanie Cohen will write a children’s book about the tree’s origins.

Sculpture detail: M/M (PARIS)