As part of the 23 Days of Flatiron Cheer for December, Flatiron Partnership and Van Alen Institute announced the winner of the 5th Annual Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition ~ ‘Happy‘ by Studio Cadena, to be unveiled on the Plaza November 19, 2018.
The installation features 24 softly shaped transparent vinyl screens that drape down from an open frame to inscribe an intimate collective space within. Its rich colored surface projects a highly visible and memorable figure from a distance, and up close, filters views inside and out by infusing the surrounding context in a rich, saturated glow. Gently swaying in the breeze, it shimmers and reflects while it casts long colored shadows in the low light of late fall and early winter. Happy is a simple device to make you stop, wonder, and most importantly, smile.
“We all wish each other happiness during the holidays. This installation physically manifests this well wishing to all who visit Flatiron,” said Benjamin Cadena, Founder and Principal of Studio Cadena. “In our otherwise bleak social and political context, it aspires to carve a small and more positive space in the city—it offers a warm embrace during the cold winter months.”
The closed-call competition began in June 2018, when the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute—a 124-year-old design not-for-profit that produces innovative competitions, programs, and communications to make cities better places—invited eight design and architecture firms to submit proposals. Invited firms were: Agency—Agency; Brandt : Haferd; MODU; N H M D; Office III; P.R.O.; Studio Cadena; and Wolfgand & Hite. A jury with expertise across the worlds of design and public art, including representatives from the Flatiron Partnership and Van Alen Institute’s board of trustees, reviewed the proposals.
“Our holiday installations have become a destination for those who live in, work in, or visit Flatiron during the holiday season, and take part in our annual ’23 Days of Flatiron Cheer’ celebration,” said Jennifer Brown, Executive Director of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership. “Happy is animated, fun and whimsical, imbuing the spirit of the season and what makes our neighborhood so special this time of year.We are proud to partner with Van Alen Institute and Studio Cadena and invite all New Yorkers – and holiday guests – to visit Flatiron this season!”
“In a relatively small way, Happy demonstrates the huge impact that design can have on daily life,” said David van der Leer, Executive Director of Van Alen Institute. “By expressing a positive emotion in a public space, Studio Cadena’s delightful installation invites people to take a moment to consider the joy of being in the big, busy city during the holiday season. Congratulations to the design team and thank you to our partners in realizing this creative vision for everyone’s enjoyment.”
“We look forward to watching people get surprised and delighted when they come upon this imaginative installation in the Flatiron Plaza,” said NYC DOT Assistant Commissioner of Design + Art + Wayfinding Wendy Feuer.“The firms selected for the Flatiron BIDs annual holiday installation find ever inventive ways to interpret the season, adding to the City’s magic at this time of year.”
Studio Cadena is based in Brooklyn. The Happy project team includes Silman (structural engineer) and YOUNGBUK Art Services LLC (fabricator/installer).
Competition jury members included Nick Athanail, The Corcoran Group and Flatiron/23rdStreet Partnership Board Member; Michael Bierut, Partner, Pentagram; Jennifer Brown, Executive Director, Flatiron/23rdStreet Partnership; Emily Colasacco, Summer Streets Event Director, New York City Department of Transportation; Ifeoma Ebo, Architecture, Urban Policy & Design, BlackSpace NYC; Ahmed ElHusseiny, Founder, AE Superlab; David van der Leer, Executive Director, Van Alen Institute; Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny, Partner, SITU Studio; Nina Marren, Art Project Manager, New York City Department of Transportation; Deirdre McDermott, Partner, Future Expansion; V. Mitch McEwen, Van Alen Institute Board Member, Assistant Professor, Princeton University School of Architecture, and Partner, A(n) Office
The art installation, Happy, by Studio Cadena, will be on view on the Flatiron North Public Plaza at Broadway, Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street through the holidays as part of the Partnership’s 23 Days of Flatiron Cheer programming. The installation is permitted through NYC DOT Art and is open to the public daily, weather permitting, from November 19, 2018 through January 1, 2019.