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happy girl blue ball pit
Quinn Burke stretches out in the 38,000-ball pit meant to evoke the look of a washer machine.

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Dream Machine transforms abandoned retail space into the latest made-for-Instagram ‘experience’

Swimming in 38,000 balls? Going down a “Willy Wonka-inspired” rainbow hallway? It was all a dream!

In the age of the mega-popular Museum of Ice Cream and a growing array of made-for-Instagram playgrounds, the latest color-saturated, interactive “experience” to arrive offers a sleepy twist.

Dream Machine rainbow balloons exterior entrance plus sign
A balloon installation greets visitors as they first enter the Dream Machine exhibit.

Dream Machine, opening April 5 in Brooklyn, New York, is inspired by a growing interest in mindfulness and better sleep practices. Inside you’ll find 10 dream-inspired rooms that flow into one another, each one as vibrant as the previous.

Founders Paige Solomon and Gary Johnson both came from an experiential ad agency, where they created pop-up spaces for brands like Netflix and Sony. With Dream Machine, they hope to channel their expertise into their own unique creation.

When the pair first stumbled upon this abandoned retail space in Williamsburg, it had been empty for a few years. The property had been locked into a separate 10-year lease, but with the promise of patching up broken ceilings and bathrooms as well as bringing “PR energy,” they were able to secure a short-term contract for the space.

The entire experience, the founders say, uses “Instagram to design for Instagram.” We’re not totally sure what that means, but just know that each room is a pre-setup photo moment.

There’s the secret washing machine room, entered by opening up a washer in a “drop-off and selfie service” laundromat, drawing inspiration from Yayoi Kusama’s famed Infinity Rooms.

An adjoining monochromatic blue ball pit (with 38,000 balls!) is highlighted by projections of moving water patterns.

Dream Machine founders Gary Johnson (left) and Paige Solomon (right) on a turquoise background
Dream Machine founders Gary Johnson and Paige Solomon.

Even the paths from room to room are designed for snapshots, like rainbow arches that become smaller as you walk down the hallway.

But what exactly does it take to set up an experience so ’gram-worthy from the inside out?

Curbed got an exclusive look ahead of the opening to see how the space transformed from an empty retail spot into a kaleidoscopic photo-op wonderland.

Dream Machine laundromat room under construction with sandbags in front of the laundromat
The washer machines open up into a mirrored room that mimics Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Rooms.
Dream Machine ladders with lights hanging on them, midway through installation or floating clouds/blinking lights room
When visitors first enter, they’re greeted by a dreamy scene of floating clouds and blinking lights.
Dream Machine worker installing hallway lights in blue hallway
A construction worker installs lights in the hallways transitioning between rooms.
Dream Machine entrance windows with tarp covering squiggle branding elements
The branding elements of the space are all pink, blue, cream, or red-orange.
Dream machine garden room, hand sticking on blue vinyl stickers on to green fake plant
In the garden room filled with patterned plants, each vinyl sticker has been stuck on by hand.
Dream Machine vinyl floor being wiped down
Carpenter Chris Stone wipes down the Mylar vinyl floor used in the “it was all a dream” room filled with metallic streamers.
Dream Machine ball pit with blue walls and plastic balls
There are 38,000 balls in the pit meant to represent the inside of a pool.
Dream Machine rainbow hallway lit up with different colors leading up to attendees taking pictures of the hallway
The rainbow hallway uses a “Willy Wonka-esque” effect to make the exhibition attendee feel as if they’re shrinking.
Dream Machine woman taking a selfie with a cloud, blue lights in the background
Lia Racanelli takes a selfie with a cloud, a feature inspired by Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream album cover.
Dream Machine employee with cotton candy in left hand, pink background with plants
“Dream technician” Blessed Kabasu hands out cotton candy to guests.
Dream Machine black and white shelf with a lamp, boxes, a pot, a stack of books, and other knick-knack decor.
A monochrome 2D transition hallway breaks up the vibrant rooms.
Lesley Scheuermann (left) and Jean Nicolas Serna-Hincapie (right) take selfies in a mirror, string lights hanging down around them
Lesley Scheuermann and Jean Nicolas Serna-Hincapie take selfies in the secret laundromat room, inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s infinity mirrors.
Dream machine garden room with female employee under multi-colored lights
“Dream technician” Megan Dinnerstein watches visitors walking through the garden room.
Dream Machine silver streamers, Sarah Magid covered by metallic streamers
Guest Sarah Magid walks through the “it was all a dream” room, filled with metallic streamers.
Dream Machine “drop off and selfie service” laundromat, man wiping checkered floor in a pink room
A dream technician mops down the “drop off and selfie service” laundromat.

Dream Machine is open to the public from April 5 to May 31 with tickets at $38 a pop.

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