Rooms of clouds, bubbles cascading downwards from the ceiling, neon-lit potted plants, a rainbow hallway, a ball-pit swimming pool, cotton candy, and a maze of silver streamers are just some of the sights to behold at “Dream Machine” immersive theatrical installation in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The nine-room pop-up is meant as a means of escape and joy in the middle of New York City.

Founded by Paige Solomon—who also serves as the project’s creative director—“Dream Machine” has been delighting dozens of visitors each day since April of 2018.

Paige Solomon had considerable experience in marketing and worked for a trendy-focused firm for several years before turning her talents towards the artistic.

“Dream Machine” sprung from her imagination and came into existence as a pop-up located in a space-for-rent near the Brooklyn waterfront.

Paige encourages visitors to take photos and post them on Instagram since, as a millennial, she understands the value of social media as both a tool of communication and a means to store memories.

Paige granted an exclusive interview on July 10, 2018, where she discussed the conception, implementation, and operation of “Dream Machine” as well as her hopes for her artistic career in the future.

Immersive experiences, dreams, and reactions

Meagan Meehan (MM): You initially worked in marketing, so how (if at all) did that influence your career as an artistic director?

Paige Solomon (PS): I used to work in experiential marketing to produce immersive and shareable experiences for some of the world’s biggest brands. It’s been an interesting shift from focusing on client briefs and objectives to being able to create my own brand and own expectations. I would say the biggest influence my prior career had on where I am today is that parameters are key to telling a good story and sticking to deadlines is even more important when you work for yourself.

Artistically, Dream Machine is the manifestation of all the ideas I couldn’t get clients to buy -- what brand would’ve believed me when I told them a neon-lit laundromat with cotton candy out of washing machine would be such a hit?

MM: Clouds, bubbles/balloons, and lights are pretty classic “dream” imagery, but why did you decide to include a laundromat (with cotton candy and dryers full of socks) and a pool/water theme for the ball-pit?

Also, what was your favorite part of the entire exhibit?

PS: When designing Dream Machine, I had to set some guidelines for myself. I think a lot of creators dream of the day when they can create whatever they want! But let me tell you -- it’s hard not having clients guide your decisions and process. So, when creating Dream Machine, I began to look into common dreams we all have. A lot of people dream of being in a common place (their home, work, school, etc.) but something is slightly off. The laundromat is just that! A New York city staple but where things are a bit more dreamy. Only at Dream Machine can you eat cotton candy out of a washing machine, climb behind dryers into the galaxy, and find out where all your missing socks go.

Another common dream is breathing/swimming underwater! In the ball pit, the room is designed to look like you’re at the bottom of a swimming pool.

MM: What sorts of reactions have you gotten from visitors and approximately how many guests arrive every week?

PS: Watching people come in and experience Dream Machine daily is definitely my favorite part about it, especially when I get to connect with guests and learn what their favorite part of the experience was. Honestly, I’d say a majority of the feedback I’ve received from guests is positive. It’s just a fun escape from reality and a great hour to spend with friends and family. The only negative comments come from when people’s expectations are different than that -- I still value and learn from their feedback though!

Since opening, we’ve seen over 50,000 people.

Social media, staff, art, and September

MM: How important is the role of social media in “Dream Machine”?

PS: The rise of Instagram has certainly been a factor in the success of experiences like this. But I believe one of the most powerful gifts we have always had is storytelling — especially in today’s world. For Dream Machine, it was important to me to create a space that one, told a story; two empowered people to share their own story; and three, felt like more than just a pretty picture. I think this combination is what has made Dream Machine so successful. But yes, social media has only positively impacted our success.

MM: “Dream Machine” has a sizable staff of attendants working the installation, so how did you find them?

PS: Dream Machine would not be what it is today without our Dream Technicians. This might sound cheesy, but we’re literally a family now. We had originally reached out to staffing agencies but found the agency fees to be insanely expensive and the people to be a bit cookie cutter. Last minute, we put the word out on Instagram and posted on a couple of job sites. We set up 15-minute interviews at a local coffee shop, interviewed for four days non- stop, and found our Dream Team! It was really a team effort.

MM: You also have a gift shop section that includes art by local artists, so how did you find these artists and why was it so important to you to include art in the shop?

PS: Yes, we have over twenty, mostly local artists in our gift shop!

All the sales from the gift shop go directly back to the artists themselves. This is our small way of giving back to other dreamers and giving the artists a platform to promote their amazing work!

MM: You are closing “Dream Machine” in July but if you find another space might you open it again in a new location?

PS: SURPRISE! You’re actually the first to find out, but we are extending Dream Machine one last and final time in Brooklyn. From August 3rd to September 16, we’ll be open for limited hours and at a limited capacity! From there, we’re starting to look into new cities and new concepts. Make sure to follow us on Instagram (@inthedreammachine) to get the most up to date news! Or sign up for our newsletter at our website “Visit Dream Machine.”

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“Dream Machine” runs through September 16 and tickets are $38.