Color Factory's New York show offers visitors a visually saturated and immersive experience with a backstory about life in the Big Apple

What color is New York City? Beginning in August of 2018, the second iteration of Color Factory opens in NYC's Soho neighborhood with the aim of exploring Manhattan's many hues and shades. 

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Instagram frequenters have likely seen posts from the first Color Factory held in San Francisco, which ran for almost a year. The participatory exhibit comprises a series of rooms that each creatively interprets the colors of a city. 

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Color Factory NYC includes 16 rooms and spans 20,000 square feet of a building on the very west end of Spring Street. Each of the rooms was created in collaboration with artists, designers and writers. The exhibit begins on the exterior facade of the building which was painted with colorful stripes that relate to poems about NYC written by Queens-based writer Won McIntosh.

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The journey through the exhibit begins in the lobby where visitors are greeted against the backdrop of a polka dot wall mural. Just to the left is 100 Colors, a series of brightly hued ribbons suspended from the ceiling creating a colorful kinetic cloud. The piece was designed by Tokyo-based architect Emmanuelle Moureaux, who was inspired by Japanese room dividers.

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Through the first door is Flower People By James Rosa of LAND Gallery. The wall mural depicts illustrations of large-scale flowers. LAND Gallery is a nonprofit studio for adult artists with developmental disabilities of which Rosa is a member.

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Adjacent to the Flower People mural is the first sugar stop inside Color Factory. Moving around a semi-circular conveyor belt are colorful macarons for sampling.

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The entry to the next room is through a hallway painted in a blocky spectrum of colors. Lining the walls are magnetically-attached buttons that visitors are encouraged to select their preferred color of.

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A choice of two doors follows, through which lies a series of desks matched to the colors of the buttons in the hallway. The rooms are divided by a glass panel.

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The installation is called Complementary Compliments by Christine Wong Yap and is intended to explore getting to know someone through a creativity worksheet. The activity involves filling in a color portrait and creating a sketch of the person siting at the facing desk.

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Just beyond the Complementary Compliments room is the second sugar stop. Another semicircular desk features a selection of complimentary color candies for sampling.

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Through the next door is an installation that involves both color and sound. Sing Me High / Sing Me Low / Bring Me Back / Let Me Go by artist Lakwena and musician Abimaro includes a series of chimes on colorful pedestals tuned to the first and fifth note in a musical scale. Visitors can play the chimes individually or together to experience “a perfect cadence” in musical terms.

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Balloon Wishes is the next room with walls painted warm hues inspired by sundown over the Hudson River or sunrise reflected against a skyscraper. A bank of fans blows air against a collection of balloons each inscribed with wishes for a better world written by students at 826NYC.

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Midway through is Secret Colors, written by Molly Young, the room that will require the most patience from visitors. Scrawled across the floor and walls is a giant flowchart that serves as a personality questionnaire.

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Following the arrows after each answer leads to a series of doors that each reveals a person's “secret color.” Inside each room is a small photo booth for capturing a portrait.

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Having survived a trip through the flowchart room, the next space is accessed by a hallway divided in to color blocks with a series of cards. Each color card has a seemingly random phrase printed on the front with a descriptor that it might inspire some kinetic movements.

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The hallway leads to a dark room with illuminated circular floor pads. This Floor was Made for Dancin’, and That’s Just What You’ll Do, is a kind of mini night club sponsored by Maybelline. In the corner of the space is an illuminated nail polish bar where visitors can get a sample bottle or try out a color on the spot.

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Lining a wall of the next room, From Absinthe to Zephyr: An Alternative Alphabet of Unusual Colors is a series of pull out panels color-matched to the buttons visitors selected earlier. Each panel has the dye origin of the color and some history about it written by Kassia St. Clair.

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New York State of Mind by Andrew Kuo contains three infographic merry-go-rounds that visualize data about NYC. Information is represented in forms ranging from keys to enjoying the city to observations on a morning subway ride.

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Visitors can lie on the spinning platforms and have an overhead video taken on their favorite pie chart of choice.

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The penultimate room is the Into the Blue ball pool, featuring Illustrations by Tamara Shopsin. The pool itself is filled with 50,000 plastic spheres in a shade that represents an NYC summer sky. The ball pool is a carryover from the original San Francisco event which was yellow instead.

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The final space is The Colorshop, curated by Brooklyn-based prop stylist Randi Brookman Harris and includes items ranging from artist prints to bicycles.

The Color Factory encourages visitors to snap some social media photos or take time to read and partake in all the activities to their fullest to learn a bit about color. Each of the rooms is fitted with cameras activated by cards visitors receive before they start, so everyone can receive images without bringing their own camera.

Color Factory