Five Questions With the Designers of “Roseaux,” Now on Display in Lower Manhattan

05/09/2023 in
Five Questions With the Designers of “Roseaux,” Now on Display in Lower Manhattan

Diane Hollahan and Ludovic Lefévère have been busy. The duo that make up the Montreal-based design outfit 1ToMn, aka one Touch of Madness, are always lining up IRL installations across the globe — most recently in Lower Manhattan, where “Roseaux” is one of two installations that make up the Downtown Alliance’s springtime Art Is All Around outdoor programming. The piece should be regarded “not as art,” Hollahan said, “but rather as a ‘particip-active’ and interactive installation.” 

Hollahan took a break from listening to the ambient electronic music softly booming in her office to share her thoughts on the “particip-active” display that is currently residing at 200 Water St. through June 21.

The inspiration for “Roseaux” sounds wild. You said that the idea came after witnessing a “wind-swept spot” that would turn into a “sea of people” at an event? Can you elaborate?  

The inspiration came to us when the organizers of the Osheaga and Ile Sonic festivals in Montreal told us about a problem with signage — this was on the route between the site entrance and the festival site. Halfway between these two poles, there was a poorly landscaped area that was trampled by users during crowd movements. When we looked at the site, we realized that it was located in a large natural area near a river and therefore subject to the wind. We quickly imagined large reeds swayed by the wind and the movement of the crowd that would serve as a call to guide the festival goers to their arrival point.

How do you think about launching interactive concepts like this one, particularly in the context of an IRL experience in the year 2023?

Between 2019 and 2022, it was quite disrupted but this period has allowed us to explore and use digital in a variety of ways that now serve us to diversify and amplify experiences. We use interactivity to get people moving — to challenge them and to have fun. But what we are most proud of is the interaction between users during and after their time on the reeds.

“Roseaux” seems like a healthy way to participate in art at a time when the world is seeing so many social divides.

We hope that this installation will not only animate public places, but also make people of all ages move in a different and in a playful way. For us, the most important thing was that as many users as possible should be able to participate, either as a group or individually, whether it was a personal challenge or a group competition. We are delighted to see that users are having so much fun, which motivates us to go further in our creations and to work harder in developing new concepts.

Which aspect of “Roseaux” speaks to you the most and why?

Strangely enough, it’s not the object as such that speaks to us the most, but the fact that we have succeeded in meeting the original needs for which we designed it. That, as well as offering a different experience to users: that they move and have fun, and that we offer them a moment that takes them out of their daily lives. So I would say that the aspects that speak to us the most are the challenge, the competition, the participation and the fact of moving for the sake of it, which at 1ToMn we call “particp-action.”

Lastly, curious what kind of music you have blasting in your office. Where are some albums or tracks that help get you on that “Roseaux” wavelength?

We are a rather eclectic team in terms of personalities as well as in terms of music choices. However, there is a tendency towards ambient electronic music which we find particularly inspiring. Otherwise, the employees in the neighboring office sometimes sing in a group. This always puts us in a more playful mood and makes us laugh.

photo: 1ToMn

Tags: art is all around, roseaux

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