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Pop-up review: WonderWorld’s display of whimsy lives up to world down the rabbit hole

WonderWorld will run until Aug. 31 in West Hollywood. The pop-up, inspired by Alice in Wonderland, features attractions like a giant teacup, mammoth mushrooms and a bear figurine made of roses. (Sim Beauchamp/Daily Bruin)


7080 Hollywood Blvd

Los Angeles

By Kaia Sherry

May 2, 2019 11:12 p.m.

WonderWorld, tucked under a shaded awning, invites visitors to enter a modern rabbit hole.

Hailing from New York, the Alice in Wonderland-themed pop-up takes inspiration from the fantastical elements of the classic tale and will be in Los Angeles until Aug. 31. Located on an unassuming street in West Hollywood, the pop-up at first resembles a quaint gift shop, alight with a pink glow and stuffed with fluffy critters. Upon entering the storefront, visitors pass through a simple entrance draped with an assortment of roses fit for the Queen of Hearts. With an appropriate first impression, WonderWorld succeeds in its adherence to a basic premise, providing a visually appealing interpretation of a familiar tale.

Past the rose-laden barrier, visitors enter a narrow, pink-striped hallway reminiscent of a Victoria’s Secret bag, meant to replicate Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole. While the hallway floor is garnished with small rabbit figurines, the ceiling immediately captivates the eye with myriad clear plastic spheres suspended in the air, each filled with bright feathers. The ceiling, obscured completely with cotton, creates a skylike effect – the artificial light filtered through the makeshift clouds is indistinguishable from natural sunlight.

The second room, with more of a modern take on the original tale, is aptly titled the Rainbow Room. The floor is painted in a widely arching pastel rainbow, divided by a curtain of flowers bisecting the room. One wall is laden with triangular mirrors, while the other forms a small seating area with multicolored pillows shaped as stars, hearts and paws. The room’s highlight, however, is the dabbing bear residing in the corner, constructed from green chicken wire and woven with roses. Though both the first and second rooms take creative liberties with the narrative of Alice in Wonderland, the first is more successful in applying a fresh take to a tired concept, while the second resembles a knockoff Claire’s.

Walking into the third room, visitors have a more explicit sense of the Alice in Wonderland theme. A giant teapot hangs from the wall above a teacup that doubles as a chair, complete with macaron cushions. Sporadically placed throughout the room are large blocks of cheese act as hiding apparatuses for younger visitors, whose time is ticked away by the oblong clock hanging on the adjacent wall. This room is the most interactive exhibit of the pop-up and by far the most fun, due to the larger-than-life teaspoons that can be picked up and twirled around.

Beyond the Mad Hatter’s tea party are several smaller rooms, one composed of mammoth mushrooms sprouting from the ground and another filled with translucent birds hanging from the ceiling. While the birds are prime for Instagram fodder, they suffer from having few other interactive aspects, easily tangled from visitors walking through them. The mushrooms, in contrast, are sturdy enough to climb atop and resemble a fanciful child’s playground.

Moving forward into the pop-up’s smallest rooms, the floor and walls suddenly dissipate into a black-and-white gridlike pattern reminiscent of a Mondrian painting. The blocks in the center of the room, also covered in the same pattern, are meant to be sat upon to give the illusion of floating. The concept, though intriguing in theory, does not translate as well to real life, as the viewer would need to be positioned into a highly specific angle to achieve the effect. An adjacent room, making use of a smaller closetlike space, is plated entirely with mirrors, providing a pleasing imitation of Yayoi Kusama’s infinity mirror rooms.

In the back of the pop-up, the installation’s most popular room is calmly illuminated with the light of a crescent moon, sitting snugly within a ball pit filled with pink and purple balloons. These are contained within a rectangular, fountainlike pool, the sides of it laid with marble. The room, like much of the pop-up, is pastel pink and decorated with cartoon clouds. Though not innovative, the ball pit and its moon centerpiece more than make up for it.

The exit, a hedged-in room with string lights hanging down, resemble the overall experience of the pop-up: simple, but entirely effective in the visually pleasing effect it aims for. Each room evokes the nostalgia of childhood memories, creating a worthwhile experience for those who want one last trip down the rabbit hole.

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Kaia Sherry | Alumna
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