Editor's Note: Daniel Kidd and BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) recently installed a 10-foot tall glowing heart sculpture ("BIG❤NYC") in the middle of Times Square for Valentine's Day. The sculpture is made up of 400 transparent, LED lit, acrylic tubes and is controlled by a heart-shaped sensor nearby. And the sculpture simply works like this: the more people that touch the sensor, the brighter and faster the heart will beat.
Below is The Next List's exclusive interview with Daniel Kidd, "BIG❤NYC" project leader, about the installation:
How did the idea come about?
From the beginning we wanted to do something with light, something that would feel at home in Times Square. The idea evolved from something that makes light to something that uses light from its surroundings. The images on the screens of times square are all made of individual pixels and we had an opportunity to rethink the pixel as a strip of light up to ten feet tall to form the pulsing heart. The heart reflects what Times Square is made of: people and light – the more people, the stronger the light.
Any little inside, behind-the-scenes story that we can tell about the design or the heart?
We submitted the proposal last year and we came in second place. We were surprised when we received a call in October telling us that the flirtation with our BIG heart was still alive. Even sometimes when you lose, you end up winning.
Can you explain a little more how the refraction works and how you get the color?
Each tube is a thin reflective and refractive surface puling light from 360 degrees of the panorama of Times Square. What you see is a mix of what is directly reflected from in front and refracted from behind. The result is an atmospheric quality of flickering lights that have unknown origin points but still seem to fit in perfectly with the surrounding lights of the Square.
What kind of feedback have you gotten?
The response has been tremendous. Excuse the pun, but people seem to have fallen in love with the heart. The interactive component has really captured the attention of the visitors of Times square. It is normal to see a line of people waiting to touch the heart sensor. Also my mother is very proud.
Any other small, fun projects like this in the near future?
Yes, we often have some small projects floating around the BIG office. Right now we are working on a furniture piece that resembles the little Mermaid, a national symbol of Denmark. We are also always involved with a lot of smaller projects with our sister design firm KiBiSi designing anything from chairs, to headphones, and even bikes.