29Rooms 2018: A Cultural Playground Built to Inspire

Courtney Marino
In room 08, "Artists in Residence," in collaboration with Joao Salomao, guests are given an interactive opportunity to create their own art, inspired by the works of various other artists.

Imagination. Inclusivity. Individuality. Impact. Refinery29 chose these values to set the tone for this year’s 29Rooms, a wondrous maze of engaging art installations built to inspire. The exhibit opened on Sept. 6 and consists of 29 unique rooms created in collaboration with artists and visionaries. The visual experiences of each room encourages guests to think critically about different political and social issues.

Upon entry, guests are urged to abandon any preconceived notions as they venture into a fantastical space of dazzling, multisensory displays. They become immersed in an Instagram-worthy dreamland of culture and creativity.

Attendees buzzed with childlike frivolity, eager to experience each of the 29 adventures that awaited them. 29Rooms transformed a simple Brooklyn warehouse into a bold, aesthetic destination. Naturally, it stands as an ultimate backdrop for the perfect photo opportunity, but the intention behind it goes deeper. This year’s theme is “Expand Your Reality.” Exhibitions are socially and culturally aware by encouraging self-exploration, acceptance and broadened perspective. It’s the perfect exhibit for NYU students looking for something fun and interactive to do with their friends.

A number of rooms offered thought-provoking commentary, sparking important conversations. “A Long Line of Queendom” is a powerful ode to black beauty and achievement. “Know Your Rights,” is a retro game show-themed room with a political twist. “The Full Picture” presented by Shatterbox and TNT stands for the importance of female voices in Hollywood.

Dante Anthony, a Refinery29 staff member assigned to guide guests through Room 06 — titled “Ace the Midterms” and created in collaboration with Yara Shahidi and Eighteenx18 — highlighting the political implications of the event as a whole. This room was reminiscent of high school, lockers and all, emphasizing the importance of young people being politically.

“I’ve noticed that people leave this room more excited to actually make a difference and vote,” Anthony said. “I think 29Rooms is all about making people feel good about themselves and the world. It’s about hope and empowering people to stand up for what they believe in.”

From brand collaborations like Revlon’s “Live Boldly Through Beauty” space offering makeup touch-ups to a giant arcade, guests couldn’t help but engage in playful, light-hearted fun as well.

It was Wills Ladd’s first time working the space at 29Rooms, and he beamed with excitement to be part of something so special.

“29Rooms is an appeal to all senses,” Ladd said. “It’s a multi-faceted event that’s inclusive in its message and appeal.”

The room that seemed to draw the largest crowd of all was the “Inner Beauty Ball,” made in collaboration with House of Yes. Inside is a fabulous dance party clad with glitter, sparkling lights, booming pop music and neon signs flashing uplifting phrases: a pure celebration of life and individuality.  

Courtney Marino

“It’s like a giant playground for grown ups. I seriously feel like a little kid again,” Stern senior Simran Ghooi said.

It is quite fitting that Room 29 is “Conversations With Your Inner Child.” A sea of notes with messages of advice and inspiration to younger selves are taped to the walls. This space affords each person the opportunity to add their own unique verse to the viral sensation. Guests described the more personal, individualized rooms like this one to be introspective, moving and even therapeutic.

Courtney Marino

29Rooms is designed to allow individuals to see themselves in each exhibit. It is powerful yet playful, and directs each person to never hesitate to stand as their own muse.

Tickets for 29Rooms are still available on their website, but you better hurry because the exhibit closes on Sept. 16.

Email Courtney Marino at [email protected]

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