Times Square Arts has unveiled the winning public artwork for the Love & Design Competition, an annual competition to realize an installation in the heart of the neighborhood that riffs on themes of love. In its 15th iteration this year, Times Square Arts, the public art arm of nonprofit business improvement district the Times Square Alliance, has selected Brooklyn-based Almost Studio to realize Love’s h|Edge, an interactive sculpture.
As its name implies, Almost Studio’s design takes the form of a heart-shaped hedge row. The vertical bar symbol stationed between the letters h and E is a visual reference to the sculpture itself and realization of love’s boundless nature. The installation takes cues from the whimsical, otherworldly qualities of Alice in Wonderland, while also pulling from aspects of Surrealism and the theatricality of Times Square.
“Love’s h|Edge is meant to be a pause, a momentary illusion, in your day, in your week, and in your life,” Almost Studio founders Dorian Booth and Anthony Gagliardi shared in a design statement. “It is meant to draw from the history of landscape design, public theater, and Surrealism to take us out of our everyday and instead offer a garden island of wonders, what-ifs, and some-days.”
Love’s h|Edge comprises four heart-shaped shrubs with walls covered in leafy artificial greenery. The staggered arrangement of the hedges creates passageways from the adjacent streetscape into the sculpture.
Visitors will traverse the sculpture by passing through several heart-shaped patios, endearingly called “Pitter-Patios.” Each of these interstitial spaces will be fashioned with a trellis backdrop and bench seating where the public can drop or insert a rose as part of an interactive initiative to fill the sculpture up with flowers so it appears to be blooming. Heart-shaped windows cut into the walls will frame vignettes of the accumulating rose walls and will inevitably also be perfect for photo ops among lovers.
As in past years, the installation’s front-and-center location in Duffy Square will make for a lovely venue for Valentine’s Day festivities, as well as weddings, surprise proposals, and vow renewals.
Love’s h|Edge was designed with accessibility and inclusivity in mind. The sculpture follows ADA building codes and technical requirements to create an inclusive experience for as many visitors as possible. Beyond sight, the installation promises a multisensory experience, with lights, a soundtrack, and the sweet aroma of roses.
While the ephemeral installation will be staged in Times Square through the month of February, the designers told AN they are in the works to secure a future or more permanent use for the piece. In the meantime Almost Studio is working with Arcana to fabricate the piece with structural engineering services to be provided by Silman. The studio thanks Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown their support of the project and also recognizes the contributions of Almost Studio team members Eli Liebenow and Isabella Calidonio.
Sponsorship for the 2023 iteration comes courtesy of design goods marketplace Minted. Finalists in this year’s competition were Architensions, Future Projects, Limbo Accra x Alaska Alaska, Office of Things, and Yeju & Chat. Almost Studio’s winning design follows last year’s commission Bloom by Habitat Workshop, a vaulted canopy structure constructed from red and white PVC pipes.