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Art with heart: Inside Refinery29’s immersive 29Rooms experience

By Joss Davidge | 2017-09-28

Unicorn carousels, child-sized lipsticks and five feet tall eyeshadows can only mean one thing: New York Fashion Week.

These surprising sights were all central to an immersive experiential marketing installation from leading digital-media company Refinery29 that’s now been a NYFW fixture for the past four years: 29Rooms.

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Initially created as a way to bring the digitally-native brand to life in the real world, this year’s ambitious installation has combined “the interactivity of a funhouse [with] the cultural relevance of a museum”, according to Refinery29’s co-founder Piera Gelardi. It provided a rare opportunity for fans to experience interactivity at all levels, and to have fun, reflect and feel inspired by art.

This year’s theme – Turn It Into Art – featured a myriad of creative installations. From ‘The Future Is Female’ punching bag room, in which punching bags set off specific sounds when hit, to the ‘Hear Our Voice’ room emblazoned with inspiring posters of female empowerment, a huge number of big-name brand partners came on board to support the project, including the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Wu, Clarins, Dunkin’ Donuts and Dyson.

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Around 20,000 guests descended on the 80,000 square feet of colourful and interactive art to experience all 29Rooms for themselves, and they certainly weren’t disappointed.

The scale of the project was incredibly ambitious: 30,000 samples were given away in the Dunkin’ Donuts Room, 1,500 flowers hung from the Erotica in Bloom installation, 9,800 recycled bottles were used to make the Ocean of Creativity, and over 10,000 condoms were on display in the Planned Parenthood Room. Now that’s a sight that’s hard to forget.

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Attracting visitors from 45 states and 13 countries including France, Australia and the Philippines, all had the chance to touch the art, punch the art, shred the art, and be moved by the experience.

29Rooms’ mission was to show how art can serve as a catalyst for people to heal and to provoke ideas, and this adult fun house has proved so popular that it’s now extended its first-ever run in Los Angeles to two full weekends.

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Take a look at the video for 29rooms from Refinery29 below:

It’s yet another great example of an experiential approach breathing new life into the world of art to resonate with a digitally-led audience.

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida took art appreciation to a whole new level with an enchanting VR experience, while M&Ms took the surprising route of teaming up with NYC street artist KAWS and luxury fashion title Visionaire to produce an incredible VR experience in honour of its 75th anniversary.



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