Five Questions With “Geo” Designers Josh de Sousa and Nancy Hou
Josh de Sousa and Nancy Hou are the husband-wife team behind Hou de Sousa, an award-winning architecture and design firm based in Manhattan. The duo is responsible for a slew of colorful and exciting large-scale art installations, including the Downtown Alliance-sponsored “Geo,” which is currently lighting up the plaza outside 140 Broadway through March 30.
The Alliance chatted with de Sousa and Hou to learn more about “Geo,” their creative process and what spectacular works to expect in the future.
How did you two come up with “Geo”? You must have drawn ideas from somewhere.
The winding and canyon-like spaces between the buildings downtown New York are completely unique. There isn’t really another urban setting quite like this in the world. So we wanted “Geo” to act as a human scale microcosm of Lower Manhattan, to create an installation that people can meander through and explore — rather than simply look at it from the outside.
How would you say “Geo” is different from previous downtown pieces, like “Ziggy”?
“Geo” has its own character, of course. We used over six miles of fluorescent rope that glows at night and creates semi-transparent volumes. Folks can see through it, and wind can pass through as well. We also knew that, for the project to be large in scale, it would have to be made up of smaller parts. Each of these parts is completely unique, but together they bundle up into a larger recognizable whole.
How long did “Geo” take to physically set up?
After designing the piece and then ordering and cutting materials, it takes a few additional months to weld and paint the structure, as well as attach the rope. Then the installation happens quickly, and “Geo” goes up over the course of a single day.
What inspired you both to lean into this area of design?
To be honest, it wasn’t something we planned on getting into, or even registered as a possibility when we started out. We both trained as architects, and when we began our studio, the commissions were for architectural- and interior-design projects. A few years back we won some design competitions and got to build a few public-art projects and temporary architectural installations as a result. It snowballed from there. Now we primarily focus on building large-scale sculptures.
What other projects have you completed recently, and what’s on the horizon?
We just completed a pair of 75-foot suspended sculptures for the upcoming new terminal at the Kansas City International Airport. And we also recently installed a trio of large scale pieces for WMATA’s new HQ in Washington, D.C. as well as a pavilion for Google’s new Mountain View campus. For 2023, there are big sculptures slated for completion in Boston, Sarasota and Ogden, Utah.
photo: Hou de SousaTags: five questions, geo, hou de sousa