BROOKLYN — A renowned furniture designer was arrested in Williamsburg early Saturday for creating bomb scares by planting wire-filled "I ♥ NY" plastic shopping bags across Brooklyn and Manhattan, court papers said.
Takeshi Miyakawa, 50, was charged with reckless endangerment and placing a false bomb, according to a criminal complaint. He was being held for a month-long mental evaluation, Miyakawa's lawyer Deborah Blum said, noting that the judge did not give a reason for the psychiatric exam.
"I think this was a gross misunderstanding. I believe he had no intention to create any alarm," said Blum. "I hope to get his timely release."
Blum said she she would ask for a hearing to get Miyakawa released on the grounds that there was not sufficient cause for him to be detained.
Police arrested Miyakawa about 2 a.m. Saturday as he attempted to hang one of the bags from a lamppost near McCarren Park, according to court papers. Four other bags were found in a gray van parked nearby.
An officer from the 94th Precinct found Miyakawa "atop a ladder leaning against a light post attaching another assembly," and the bomb squad soon appeared and ruled that the bag was "appearing similar" to an explosive device, the complaint said.
The bags contained wires, batteries and lights for illumination, the complaint said.
The arrest occurred barely 10 hours after police evacuated a busy, three-block stretch of Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, where one of the bags was found attached to a tree there. Miyakawa was charged in that incident, as well, court records showed.
The Williamsburg-based designer claimed he was hanging the lights as an artistic display to coincide with his current 40-foot light installation at NY Design Week in Manhattan's Javitz Center, Miyakawa's lawyer Deborah Blum said.
She said Miyaka, a contemporary furniture designer, studied engineering and architecture in his home country in Japan, and that he has been in the United States the past 23 years.
"He was simply saying 'I love New York' with his signs...he was promoting New York Design Week and sharing his feelings about the city," said Louis Lim, 26, a young designer who works in Miyakawa's studio and called the seasoned artist his "mentor."
"We had no idea it was seen as a bomb scare," said Lim of the installation on Bedford that caused the street closure Friday. "If Takeshi had known that he would have stopped...if he does something that upsets someone, he apologizes. He's traditional Japanese in that way."
Lim said Takeshi had done a similar installation two years ago with the "Holey Chair," a 3-D light drawing of a chair hung from trees and lampposts in the city during Design Week. Lim called Miyakawa's work "non-invasive, non-destructive and temporary," and said the "I Love NY" bag held particular meaning.
"It's such an iconic bag and everyday object that when used in the way he was it's such a poetic image for him, especially at night because they'd become 'I Love NY' lanterns," said Lim.
"He wanted to make somebody laugh or smile — and the best way to do that in art and design is through the peculiar, unexpected elements of everyday life."