The Best-Dressed Tree in Hell’s Kitchen

April 03, 2013 at 9:45 am

From designer sweaters to dog sweaters, not to mention designer dog sweaters, New York has it all – including a sweater-wearing tree. On an otherwise nondescript block of West 44th Street, the sweater tree inhabits a small plot of dirt in front of an equally colorful home furnishings store.

Inspired by yarn-bombing artists like Olek, store owners Luisa Cerutti and Nicki Lindheimer decided to give it a try themselves.

Cerutti is originally from Italy and Lindheimer hails from California, but they’re right at home in Hell’s Kitchen with all its creative types. Their store, which sells unique items sourced from around the world,  recently celebrated ten years in business.

“Nicki’s a very very big fan of graffitis, and graffitis are called bombing when you put graffitis on walls and so this is a softer, gentler version of graffitis so it’s called yarn-bombing,” said Cerutti.

To accomplish their goal, Lindheimer first had to learn the tricks of the trade.

“I didn’t know how to crochet or how to knit, but Luisa does so I asked her to show me and then we did it together,” she said.

In this web extra, Cerutti and Lindheimer discuss the inspiration for the sweater tree as well as reactions they’ve received from both neighbors and passersby.

Despite their handiwork, Cerutti and Lindheimer don’t consider themselves to be artists. While inspired by street art, their tree sweater is more of a personal memorial.

“We had the idea of covering the tree to remember two children who died of cancer, two children from Hell’s Kitchen,” said Cerutti. “One was Hazen. Hazen died of cancer about six years ago. And then there was Liam. Liam died about two years ago and both of them died of neuroblastoma, it’s a brain cancer.”

The mother of one of the children has asked them to create a sweater for a tree in her garden and has  started a charity to help fund pediatric cancer research. Neighbors have also encouraged the pair to dress every tree on the block.

“We’d love to, but time has been the issue,” said Lindheimer.

“It took three weeks to make,” added Cerutti.

You can visit the sweater tree at 413 West 44th Street, in front of Domus.