Drawing 10,500 visitors, Refinery29 moved its second installment of 29Rooms, held from Sept. 9 to 11, to a larger space — an 80,000-square-foot warehouse in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn — from last year’s Greenpoint, N.Y., event, which drew 6,000.
Each of the 29 rooms was designed in partnership with a different artist, designer, celebrity or brand. The experiences explored themes of style, culture and technology with interactive installations powered by visitors.
“We’re creating this fantasyland,” said Refinery29 cofounder and creative director Piera Gelardi. “We start out by thinking about some of the big themes we want to bring to life and who’s inspiring us with their work in different capacities that are in line with topics we want to spark.”
Gurls Talk, in collaboration with model and activist Adwoa Aboah, was a large-scale installation of more than 500 telephones hanging from the ceiling. Guests could listen to Cara Delevingne, Tali Lennox, Kyleigh Kühn, Erica Garner, Karley Sciortino and others tell personal stories about overcoming obstacles. Visitors could then pick up a phone and share their own experiences.
The object of Panda-Monium, created in collaboration with Nicola Formichetti’s Nicopanda, was for adults to become kids in Formichetti’s fantasy world, where guests were enveloped in a happiness-inducing room full of stuffed pandas designed to evoke the classic arcade giant claw game.
“Nicola was very collaborative,” Gelardi said. “We started an organic conversation about 29Rooms earlier this year. We were talking about something fun that involved toys. ‘What if we did a pit of pandas,’ Nicola said, and that become the ball pit, taking his cues for the look and feel of the pandas.”
The Sidewalk is Your Runway, in partnership with Michael Kors, was inspired by a West Village street in New York. Guests were invited to grab their favorite handbag from the Michael Kors fall 2016 collection, step into the spotlight and take a walk on the styled side. Each model moment was captured on camera and sharable via social media #SidewalkSpotted.
“Our brand is optimistic and allows you to come to 29 rooms and see the possibilities,” Gelardi said, adding that visiting all 29 installations is “an emotional arc. Some are more thought-provoking than others. The Gurls Talk project with hundreds of phones hanging from the ceiling told stories of strength.”
Turn the Tide, a collaboration with the Lonely Whale Foundation and Adrian Grenier “is more meditative,” Gelardi said. The ocean-themed experience was designed to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the marine ecosystem, reminding visitors that even a small gesture, such as going #strawless, can reduce plastic pollution in the seas.
Other rooms were designed by Art Hoe Collective, a geopolitical art movement dedicated to inclusion and whose members include Amandla Stenberg, Mars, Sage Adams, Jheyda Mcgarrell, Jam, Alia Kadir and Taylor Rowland; Find Your Forocious, a collaboration with designer Charlotte Simone, who created a snuggery, lined floor-to-ceiling in faux fur; See You, artist Daniel Rozin’s room of interactive pieces that react to viewers’ movements and silhouettes, creating the ultimate selfie representation of visitors, like a looking glass that looks right back at you, and makeup artist Ryan Burke’s The Art of Beauty, where guests could turn their faces into masterpieces by standing behind screens and experimenting with various filters and literally viewing themselves through different lenses.
Much of 29Rooms was created by big brands, including Perrier, the Ford Motor Company, Fossil, Ulta and Papyrus. “We work with brands to be as creative and expressive as they can be and make sure they’re rooted in artist rooms. We bring other artists in to collaborate as well,” Gelardi said.
Perrier’s Beyond the Bubbles carried the theme, “Everyone’s got a little extraordinary inside… Here’s to letting it bubble over and spill into every day!” In a room filled with balloons, visitors were encouraged to capture what makes them extraordinary as bubbles floated by. They placed it into a pool and received a can of Perrier.
A party on Sept. 8 drew Jessica Alba, Kate Mara, Priyanka Chopra, Sofia Richie, Tinashe, Christian Siriano, Abbi Jacobson, Rashida Jones, Cory Booker, Jackie Cruz, Andre Holland, Victoria Justice, Peyton List, Stacy London, Naturi Naughton, Nico Tortorella, Yael Stone and Whitney Port.