NEW YORK CITY (SBG) — Like most of us, designers Azizan Ali and Laila Ahmed found their careers heavily disrupted by COVID-19. At Design House Decor, Ali and Ahmed had established themselves as the creative minds behind extravagant floral displays that transformed event venues into whimsical fairytale wonderlands of blooming roses and tangled vines. But as large-scale luxury events were put on pause for the indefinite future, the two designers found themselves in search of a new outlet for their innovative visions. And with that, the Floral Escape was born.
In the span of just a few weeks, their concept of a fall-themed floral installation was brought to life at the Queens County Farm Museum in New York City. The spacious historic farm provided plenty of real estate to play host to the event "The Fall Escape," complete with floral butterfly wings fit for a human, elephants made out of hedges, and oversized pumpkin spice lattes filled not with coffee but with flowers.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the future of designed-for-Instagram "experiences" was called into question, as the entire existence of popular spots like the Museum of Ice Cream and the Color Factory seemed to be dependent on the very things that wouldn't be quite as welcome in the new normal. While jumping into a pool of sprinkles that a million other strangers have swam in before you may have seemed like a fun time to some people pre-pandemic, it's harder to see it as anything other than a giant vat of multicolored germs in today's world. And would anyone want to touch the same props that had already been touched by hand after hand after potentially unwashed hand? Plus, cramming visitors into crowded lines indoors while they awaited the perfect picture was destined to become a thing of the past.
As regulations have since allowed indoor spaces to reopen in many of the cities where they were previously shuttered, the exhibits have assured visitors that they're taking all of the proper precautions to ensure guest safety. The Museum of Ice Cream no longer allows swimmers in their sprinkle pool; your modeling can instead take place on a diving board or circular lily pad platforms. Masks, required at all times, have become a new way for influencers to accessorize their outfits. Social distancing is a given, and hand sanitizer dispensers are plentiful.
But for those who enjoy posing with oversized props in vibrant hues, the outdoor floral installation at the Fall Escape may be the safest way to update to your Instagram grid after months of staying at home and not doing much of anything worth documenting.
"While visiting 'The Fall Escape,' your health is our top priority, and we are committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all our visitors. All 11 of our custom escapes are installed outdoors and designed with socially distanced guidelines in mind," the Floral Escape said in a press release.
Like many similar experiences, "The Fall Escape" attracts its fair share of influencers testing out several different poses next to elephants and on top of the rainbow throne before checking their phones and adjusting as necessary for another round of photos, but it also draws in families and groups of friends looking for uplifting outdoor activities to explore before declining temperatures force everyone back inside all over again. There's definitely a sense of joy for all ages to be found while walking through the blooming enchanted forest's purple vines, and flowers filling up wheelbarrows and tractors are almost guaranteed to get you in the fall mood.
"'The Fall Escape' was born to create a unique place where guests could escape and immerse themselves in the beauty of flowers and colors while creating memorable moments with family and friends," reads the press release.
Calling it an "escape" is appropriate in a time when actually escaping the city isn't feasible for many, whether they're held back by travel restrictions or anxieties about the risks currently associated with vacations to faraway places. The installation's colorful arrangements shine brightly against a backdrop of blue skies and autumn leaves, and unless you've decorated your apartment in such a vivid way, it'll serve as a welcome change of scenery from the walls of your home and the city sidewalks around your neighborhood. And with several weekend dates selling out online, it's clear that people are drawn to this sort of event right now.
When purchasing your ticket, you'll choose a specific time slot to ensure that arrival times are spaced out throughout the day. It's recommended that you spend about three minutes photographing each of the 11 displays, in order to move through the experience at a pace that allows those in the subsequent time slot to have plenty of space to social distance.
After you move through the exhibit, there's plenty of other fall fun to be found at the Queens County Farm Museum. The landmark, which dates all the way back to 1697, is home to New York City's only corn maze, which has taken on the design of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" masterpiece this year. You can also visit the farm's many animal residents, purchase produce from the farmstand, and take a hayride around the grounds. If you haven't picked out your pumpkins yet, the pumpkin patch offers a wide selection from which to choose.
While the fall edition of the floral installation will remain open through the last weekend of November, it's not the last you'll see of the Floral Escape. The company's website is already teasing something called "The Holiday Escape," and though details are scarce as of now, the description promises another experience full of unforgettable moments.