Thursday, October 12, 2017

At the intersection of technology, branding, and activism, digital-media company Refinery29’s 29Rooms installation succeeded in intersecting all of these, truly turning it into art. For its third year, the annual event opened its doors during New York Fashion Week (NYFW) to a mass of visitors in the Williamsburg, Brooklyn neighborhood after having sold 20,000 tickets.

Refinery29 called this year’s theme Turn it Into Art and brought forth the most powerful artists and collaborators in hopes of raising awareness on issues including, but not limited to, intersectionality, feminism, trans rights, and climate change. Refinery29 gave each artist and collaborator the freedom to uniquely curate one of the 29 rooms, with the goal of allowing the audience to interact inside these ‘’instagrammable’’ installations. This year’s list was composed of celebrities such as actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who co-created a shred room in which people had the chance to write down and shred their fears; in addition to other celebrities such as Beyonce’s protegees Chloe x Halle, actress Emma Roberts and her Belletrist Book Community.

Companies also were well represented, and leveraged 29 Rooms art installations to reach new audiences and amplify their brands. Companies such as Cadillac, Ulta Beauty, Dunkin Donuts, Juicy Couture, to name a few, not only partnered with 29Rooms, but some of them advertised their products by collaborating with artists. For instance, Dunkin Donuts’ cartoon kitchen room, Behind the Flavor, served as a taste zone for individuals to vote for one of the three flavors of coffee they would like to sell for the future. Cadillac partnered with artist and fashion designer Jason Wu for the installation The Art of Innovation, which brought "Cadillac’s legacy in automotive innovation and design with a stunning display of human ingenuity."

However, it is not always about branding but how partnerships can help communities. As a way to facilitate the newcomers experience in Williamsburg, Refinery29 also launched a local guide, 29Places, which recommends places to entertain oneself, eat, and shop, benefitting the businesses in the neighborhood.

In the previous two years, the 29Rooms Installation had such a high volume of attendees that this year Refinery29 decided to start selling tickets, donating a portion of their revenue to non-profits such as Art of Elysium, Planned Parenthood, and The Women’s March. Each one of these non-profits sponsored artists to create a room, which conveyed strong and positive messages to the community. One of the installations, Hear Our Voice, in collaboration with Women’s March, Refinery29, and Amplifier, encouraged individuals to write a postcard to their elected representatives.

29Rooms is an event filled with energy and creativity; it succeeded not only partnering with artists with successful companies creating a perfect platform to reach larger audiences, but also the event gave back to the local and broader communities in a time where companies as well as artists are finding more ways to address social inequalities, in turn, serving as a gentle reminder to customers and attendees to be the spark, live with heart, and turn it into art.