MODU and Eric Forman Studio’s Heart Squared is the winner of 2020 Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition, which was curated by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. As this year’s winning design, Heart Squared will be unveiled on January 30 at 11am at Father Duffy Square, between 46th and 47th Streets. The installation will remain on view for the month of February.
Tilted in various directions within a steel frame that evokes the outline of an anatomic heart, the 125 mirrors of Heart Squared transform the spectacle of Times Square into kaleidoscopic images of people, buildings, and brightly-lit billboards. While the position of each mirror seems random, the designers developed a specialized technique to calculate the specific angles in order to hide a playful surprise. As viewers move around the structure towards a special marked location, those hundreds of reflections suddenly coalesce, revealing a pixel heart of urban life surrounded by a field of mirrored sky.
“We are using the magic of mirrors and light to remix the urban spectacle into something unexpected, to give people a new way to see the city — and each other.”
— Eric Forman, Eric Forman Studio
Heart Squared brings people together to discover the heart within — a heart that reflects anyone and everyone who engages with it, its colors and composition changing as the sun rises and sets, as billboard lights and screens shift, and as thousands of people pass by. Viewers can interact spontaneously with one another through the mirrors or find their own experiences within the piece, celebrating their love of the city and the incredible diversity of people within it.
“Heart Squared represents the collective heart of the city and as such, is an engaging civic statement about celebrating our differences and bringing people together in a fundamentally inclusive way.”
— Phu Hoang and Rachely Rotem, MODU
This marks the 12th anniversary of the Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition, an annual process by which Times Square Arts and a curatorial partner invite architecture and design firms to submit proposals for a public art installation celebrating Love in Times Square in February. Situated in front of the Red Steps each year, the Valentine Heart installation continues Times Square’s commitment to celebrating great design — a commitment exemplified by the Red Steps themselves, which have won multiple architecture awards; by the Times Square Design Lab initiative; and by Times Square’s connection to events like NYCxDESIGN, which has stationed its Design Pavilion on the Broadway Plazas for the past three years.
Other architecture and design firms invited to submit proposals for the 2020 Times Square Valentine Heart Design included: Agency Agency / Tei Carpenter, HOU DE SOUSA, Isometric Studio, Office III, Other Means.
See the proposals from all of the 2020 Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition invitees by clicking the image below.
On February 25th, Cooper Hewitt will host a public program with the MODU and Eric Forman Studio to delve deeper into the design process story and explore the work in the greater context of public art and design installations.
“As America’s Design Museum, Cooper Hewitt is delighted to collaborate with Times Square Arts to infuse inclusive and accessible design at the Crossroads of the World,” said Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. “Through its innovative use of mirrors to create a kaleidoscopic portrait of urban life, MODU and Eric Forman Studio’s Heart Squared demonstrates the power of design to foster community and spark connections.”
— Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
The proposals for the 2020 Valentine Heart Design Competition were reviewed by representatives from the Valentine Heart Selection Committee: Sean Anderson, Associate Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, MoMA; Victor Calise, Commissioner, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities; Jean Cooney, Director, Times Square Arts; Kevin Davey, Director, UAP Company; Wendy Feuer, Assistant Commissioner Urban Design + Art + Wayfinding, NYC DOT; Jennifer Lantzas, Deputy Director of Public Art, NYC Parks; Andrea Lipps, Contemporary Design Curator, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; Nadine Maleh, Executive Director, Capital Projects, Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice; Suchi Reddy, Founder, Reddymade (2019 Valentine Heart Design Competition winner); and Tim Tompkins, President, Times Square Alliance.
MODU and Eric Forman Studio’s design, Heart Squared, shapes the imagery of Times Square’s iconic screens, diverse people, and ever-shining lights, turning a mirror on what draws so many of us together: the city itself.”
— Tim Tompkins, President, Times Square Alliance
Follow the conversation on social media using #HeartTSq.
Previous winners of the Times Square Valentine Heart Design include: Suchi Reddy / Reddymade (2019); Aranda/Lasch + Marcelo Coelho (2018); The Office for Creative Research (2017); Collective-LOK (2016); Stereotank(2015); Young Projects (2014); Situ Studio (2013); BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) (2012); Freecell (2011); Moorhead & Moorhead (2010); and Gage / Clemenceau Architects (2009).
Phu Hoang and Rachely Rotem have led MODU since its founding in 2012. They were awarded the 2017 Founders Rome Prize in Architecture, since 1897 an annual prize to those ”who represent the highest standards of excellence in the arts and humanities.” Recently, they have also been awarded the Emerging Voices award from the Architectural League of New York (2019) and the US-Japan Creative Artists fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (2018).
Phu holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University in New York. Since 2011, he has taught at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Phu is a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, a council Co-chair of its Society of Fellows, and a licensed architect in the states of New York and Connecticut.
Rachely holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree (Cum Laude) from Technion in Haifa and a Master in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University, where she was awarded both the Lowenfish Memorial Prize and the William Kinne Fellows Traveling Prize. She currently teaches at RISD and most recently at Syracuse University. Rachely is a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, a licensed architect in Israel, and a LEED Accredited Professional in Building Design and Construction.
Eric Forman is a Brooklyn-based artist and designer working at the intersections between fine art, design, architecture, and new technology. Eric started programming as a child in the 1980s and was an early member of the groundbreaking online media entity Pseudo Programs in the mid 1990s. Eric Forman Studio was founded in 2003, and in 2012 was invited to be a founding member of New Lab, a next generation innovation space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. His studio’s design practice specializes in the latest interactive experiences and digital fabrication techniques for diverse clients. Eric received his Masters in 2002 from ITP at NYU, and his B.A. from Vassar College in 1995 where he developed his own interdisciplinary program called “The Philosophical Ramifications of Computer Technology.” His thesis work there was a pioneering academic investigation of virtual reality and its potential impact on space, ontology, and identity. Eric is currently faculty and Head of Innovation at the Interaction Design MFA program at SVA (School of Visual Arts).
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is America’s design museum. Inclusive, innovative and experimental, the museum’s dynamic exhibitions, education programs, master’s program, publications and online resources inspire, educate and empower people through design. An integral part of the Smithsonian Institution—the world’s largest museum, education and research complex—Cooper Hewitt is located on New York City’s Museum Mile in the historic, landmark Carnegie Mansion. Steward of one of the world’s most diverse and comprehensive design collections—over 210,000 objects that range from an ancient Egyptian faience cup dating to about 1100 BC to contemporary 3-D-printed objects and digital code—Cooper Hewitt welcomes everyone to discover the importance of design and its power to change the world. Cooper Hewitt knits digital into experiences to enhance ideas, extend reach beyond museum walls and enable greater access, personalization, experimentation and connection.
Images courtesy of MODU and Eric Forman Studio.