A curious floral diversion designed by Brooklyn-based Almost Studio has landed in Midtown Manhattan during the most amorous month of the year. Entitled Love’s h|Edge, the interactive installation is winner of the 15th annual Love in Times Square Design Competition. A maze-like configuration of four heart-shaped hedges rows, within which visitors can wander, the winning design, which will remain on view opposite Times Squares’ Red Steps through the end of the month, features illuminated benches and rose-adorned trellises.
The cordiform motif extends to both cutouts in the hedgerows and the pattern of the installation’s floor, which features artificial turf with lawn mower stripes and wooden slats of the work’s trio of so-called interior “pitter-patios.”
“There’s this play between the natural and the artificial landscape that is the city,” said Dorian Booth, who co-founded Almost Studio with Anthony Gagliardi in 2018. “That surrealist imagery and iconography of the suburban front lawn was a big inspiration for us—it makes you stop and have to take a second look.”
Both Gagliardi and Booth are faculty members in the architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design. Their practice’s portfolio includes public installations, exhibition design, and residential projects. In 2021, Almost Studio won the annual Ragdale Ring competition at the Ragdale Foundation’s suburban Chicago campus.
Fabricated by Arcana, Love’s h|Edge has evolved since it was first installed at the beginning of the month. Each day at 1pm, volunteers handed out freshly cut roses for visitors to insert into the trellises. “We’re interested in the way that our design ideas can get translated or negotiated or changed or altered in the buildout process, and while it's out in Times Square,” said Gagliardi. “Public art is one of the purest ways to follow through on a design idea.”
In addition to its botanical allure—both real and ersatz— the installation also includes illuminations and a recorded soundscape that “invites a range of sensory experiences,” according to a statement. “Generated from ADA-accessible building code dimensions, the technical dimensions of the spaces in Love’s h|Edge are intended to be fundamentally inclusive and embody a sense of expansive compassion.”
Invited to submit design proposals to this year’s Times Square Love & Design Competition alongside Almost Studio were Architensions, Future Projects, Limbo Accra x Alaska Alaska, Office of Things, and Yeju & Chat.
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