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    10 Questions with... Takeshi Miyakawa

    Takeshi MiyakawaA New York-based artist's arrest was an intense topic of conversation among designers and architects during ICFF in New York last month. Takeshi Miyakawa is the principal of his own art and design studio, Takeshi Miyakawa Design, and has been building models for Rafael Viñoly Architects for over two decades. He was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment while installing illuminated plastics bags with an "I ♥ New York" logo on them in Brooklyn near his Greenpoint studio. Here, Miyakawa offers a firsthand account of the on-going experience. 

    INTERIOR DESIGN: So what exactly did the installation comprise?

    TAKESHI MIYAKAWA: Plastic bags contained a polycarbonate box that housed LED lights and a 12-volt chargeable battery. To waterproof the construction, the polycarbonate box was then placed in an acrylic box. So LEDs inside the plastic bag were connected to a battery with an electric cable. I made a total of nine bags.

    Did the works have any kind of signature or logo on them, or did you leave them as anonymous?

    This installation was supposed to be anonymous so I didn't leave any logos or signatures. I didn't send any invitations to my friends either. As I've mentioned many times, I didn't do this installation to get a media attention so I feel a bit embarrassed about this whole situation. In this case all the press helped a lot to let me out of a jail so I really appreciate that.

    What were you hoping to achieve with the installation?

    I just wanted to bring a small piece of art and design outdoors during New York Design Week - to celebrate and to send a positive message to the people on the street. When I get an inspiration for a new design, I often take a piece of paper to cut and fold to play and that's the happiest moment for me, just like a kid with a favorite toy.

    Where were you hoping to place the illuminated bags?

    I installed four on Friday, May 18, in the early morning. In Brooklyn, I placed them at Bedford Avenue between North 5th Street and North 6th Street. In Manhattan, I placed them at 13th Street and Greenwich Street; on Bowery Street in front of the Bowery Hotel; and on Spring Street and Crosby Street. When I was installing the fifth early Saturday morning at Bedford and Lorimer, I was arrested.

    What was your reaction to the arrest?

    I was in shock when this police officer told me that they had to evacuate Bedford Avenue for two hours after someone who saw a bag reported it to the police. I later learned that it was a 311 phone call.

    What happened next - was the installation removed at all locations?

    While I was at the police precinct, I was asked how many more existed and where I had installed them, so, yes, authorities removed them soon after.

    What was the chief reaction expressed to you by friends and colleagues in the design industry?

    I heard they were in shock. But many of my close friends started to organize a team to rescue me. So many people were surprised and upset when the judge decided to lock me up for 30 days and requested a psychiatric evaluation.

    Has this experience changed the way you approach your art or how you will proceed with making art in the future?

    I don't know. I think I will have to wait and see how this experience will affect my art and design. I'm just resting now...

    Have you done any similar installations in the past - how were they received by the city and the public?

    Not the same kind. The case isn't over yet so I can't talk too much. Sorry.

    Do you regret the "I ♥ New York" installation?

    Yes, because people on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn had to be evacuated for two hours. I had my furniture studio on North 3rd Street and lived on South 4th Street until just last year, so I know many people in this area and I just feel so bad for them.