Do you remember your 11th birthday; was it filled with balloons, inflatable furniture, and an extensive mixture of gummy candy and chocolates? Did you spend hours of intense play with friends and family? (If you had inflatable furniture, then welcome to your 30s.) On December 8th, 2021, BREDA and artist and founder of Subliming, Tessa Forrest, celebrated the birth of a collaborative effort more than a year in the making in Brooklyn, New York. The Y2K birthday-inspired event had all of the makings of a killer 11-year old’s birthday, save for the open bar. However, the evening wasn’t solely about partying like it was 2002. The main focus of the night, other than the launch of the BREDA x Subliming collaboration watch, was a panel discussion led by Forrest and Kendall Falcon, Creative Director of BREDA. Three other panelists joined Forrest and Falcon, journalist Vera Papisova; Spiritual Coach and Founder of Reset NYC, Liz Tran; and Founder of Hike Clerb Inc. and an amazing self-taught nail artist, Evelynn Escobar.
The collaboration between BREDA and Subliming began with a holiday card and packaging designed by the artist in 2020. The card featured her signature blurred ethereal color field with the inscription Trust the Timing of Your Life. From that project, Falcon and Forrest developed a relationship that in the words of Falcon, “made the work feel like fun. When you have a similar working style and are aligned in emotional storytelling and product design, it just seemed like a natural next step to collaborate on a watch together. For the project, we explored the idea of nurturing your inner child. This project focuses on the idea that practicing play and presence are the key to strong mental health. As we grow and age, we often leave acts of play behind and forget to continue workshopping ourselves in this way. Our discussions began to feel therapeutic. I’ve felt I’ve been able to rediscover how play can help reclaim those lost pieces of ourselves.”
Walking into the Play with Subliming launch event, guests were greeted by a small 2000’s era tube television that was whimsically surrounded by packaging designed by Forrest that read PLAY in bubble letters. On the opposite side of the entryway, a small table held an assortment of rubber keychains that featured the mantra of the collaboration: Timing is Everything, another piece of the product collaboration. Additionally, the table held a pile of scented gel pens and crayons, for on the wall was a six-foot roll of blank paper that asked guests to share their favorite childhood memory and how they play. To which guests responded with “Dancing in the rain,” “Singing with Friends,” “Singing in the shower,” “Drawing,” and “Being outside.”
Before the night’s rain turned into the snow outside, the panel inside began discussing how to reconnect and nurture your inner child. The first question asked, ‘What was your favorite childhood game?’ had a surprising answer from Vera Papisova. The writer revealed that she may have gotten her start by creating her very own ransom notes from magazine clippings. Evelynn Escobar settled on imagined mysteries and manhunts, and Liz Tran said she and her brother loved to adventure outside. With that note, if you ever have the chance to ask Liz Tran a question, make sure you ask her about her experience with bees the color red. The conversation between the five women on stage flowed naturally. It was vulnerable, honest, funny, and insightful. There is an audio recording of the panel to be released, so I will not run through it all here, but there was one moment that I will highlight. Papisova brought up the phenomenon a portion of the population may have experienced, missing significant gaps or memories from their childhood. Many of us, when asked, can conjure a happy childhood. However, when asked about specific memories, it becomes harder to pinpoint. Birthdays, holidays, and vacations blend in an amalgamation of childhood. In focusing on the present, the past can be seen, in my case, as only vignettes of warm fuzzy feelings without particulars. This phenomenon for those not centered in mental health society is called anxiety-induced memory loss. When Papisova remarked on anxiety-induced memory loss, you could hear a collective ahh from the audience, like we all just realized a piece of what many of us have been missing.
Like childhood, we all experience anxiety. As children, we are industrious, spongey little creatures taking in and creating worlds of our own. Our brains are focused on keeping us safe, it’s one of the reasons we feel anxious, through the process of examining internal and external sources of danger. However, prolonged anxiety, even at low levels can have devastating mental and physical consequences. Whether you have no memory of childhood play or the most wonderful memories, anxiety plays with our minds in intricate and opaque ways. But the truth of it is, we’re all, and forever will be children. Adulthood is a construct. We can be just as industrious now as we were then. Life is serious, but it is not without its fun. Play with Subliming reminded its guests that it is necessary to take the time to acknowledge and nurture your inner child. That doing something solely for the reason that it is fun is okay, and good for your mental and physical health. That to play is to heal.
So, go ahead, blow out your lung trying to inflate that clear plastic chair you found on Amazon, buy three kinds of different gummy candies for a Wednesday night, dance to Aaliyah’s Try Again, jump into a photo booth with your friends and create a cocktail with mezcal and Aperol that somehow works (you can thank Tessa for that one). I was able to experience each of these things thanks to Play with Subliming. Despite my almost thirty-year-old body rejecting indulgence, I feel like I had a two-hour therapy session and made a bunch of new friends. Oh, and if you want to know how to recover those missing childhood memories, make sure you stay tuned for the audio recording of the panel. If you'd like to learn more about Tessa Forrest and Subliming, then check out BREDA's interview here.
Images & words by Anthony Falcon
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