By Lisa Gong
An ongoing photo project exploring how Princeton students cultivate their own little private pieces of campus.
NATHAN YOO ’17
Hometown: Brea, CA
Major: Woody Woo
Certificate: Creative Writing (Screenwriting)
Activities: Mental Health Board, Manna Christian Fellowship, Murray Dodge Cafe
Dorm: Whitman College – 1981 Hall
Dorm Inspiration: A lot of the decorative items in my room are related to my faith either directly or metaphorically, and I’m really grateful that I’m able to integrate it visually into one of my most private spaces, giving it meaning beyond aesthetic pleasure.
Elicits Strongest Memories: The driftwood music box and Ocean of Love painting, gifts I got from my best friends in 8th and 10th grade. We’re close as ever despite going to different colleges, and it feels great to have a continuity of love visually manifest in my room.
Brings Most Joy: The curtain lights. I turn them on before leaving my room so I can see them twinkling in the window when coming back from a long night, or I use them to read on my bed with a cool breeze before bedtime.
No Longer Like: The plants. They’re kind of dying… Oh and definitely the stag head. Like it’s cool, but why did I want to buy it so badly in September? #materialism
Dorm Style: An invitation to chat, jam, reflect and pray
RAVEN DERAMUS ’16
Hometown: Gadsden, AL
Certificates: African American Studies, Teacher Prep
Activities: Black Student Union
Dorm: Spelman Hall
Dorm Inspiration: Every year I’ve failed at decorating because I’ve tried too hard to make my space look pleasing to other people. That resulted in lots of matchy-matchy, confining stuff that just didn’t complement my style. That was about more than just a dorm, though. I was actually having a difficult time understanding my own identity as a Black woman with kinky hair and my body type on a campus like this. Once I learned to love my features and adorn them the way I wanted to, that translated into my wardrobe and my space. I just decided to shop for my room the same way I started to shop for my clothes and makeup. I try not to plan too much, and just buy whatever catches my eye in a store or online. My décor also depends on what I’m wearing each season. When I was wearing a white tee, red lipstick, and leather jacket look a lot, my room was just as minimalist. Now that I’m into flowy, unstructured dresses and brighter colors, my room has that same vibe.
Elicits Strongest Memories: Three things. There’s a picture of my best friend and I on my bookshelf. We were eating barbecue at a restaurant in our home state. It makes me feel like I’m back home. There’s also picture on my wall of me pushing my fiancé’s hair back during our engagement shoot. When I decided to stop using chemicals on my hair and cut it all off in 2013, he grew his hair out in solidarity with me, despite the criticism we got. That picture reminds me of that. Finally, I have the CD of Beyoncé’s 2013 album on my bookshelf. I wrote my thesis on it, so it’s become a defining work in my life.
Brings Most Joy: My record player and albums. My grandparents used to play records for us when we were kids, so this is a way for me to keep that happiness in my life.
No Longer Like: I’m not feeling my inspiration wall that much anymore. I cut out magazine pictures of styles, books, quotes, and people that I found interesting and taped them to my wall. However, that actually isn’t a good reflection of that part of my life. I’m actually very structured and detailed when I create goals and plans for myself. That wall is too cluttered. I need a bulletin board or something over there instead.
Dorm Style: Just like my clothes—eclectic.
BRIAN CHEN ’16
Hometown: Alhambra, CA
Major: Electrical Engineering
Certificates: Computer Science, Robotics
Activities: Chinese Students Association, Community Action Leader
Dorm: Spelman Hall
Dorm Inspiration: Most of the furniture in my room is actually an attempt to recreate the room I had last year, which was a large single in Whitman. Last year I was excited to have my own room to decorate, so I bought the futon, ottomans, and rug to complement my bed sheets. As I made more crafts and collected more Pikachus, they naturally became a part of my room decorations. If you can’t tell, I like rainbows, color gradients, and repeated tones.
Elicits Strongest Memories: My Pikachus actually mean a lot to me because there’s a memory associated with each one. The large one on my bed is from my parents, who waited hours in line during a Pokemon Boutique popup at JapanLA I didn’t know existed just to get it for me as a surprise. The solar-powered bobble head was a gift chosen by my close friend who saw me admiring it through the Morning Glory display windows when they didn’t have any in stock. And I bought the small sleeping one during a spontaneous three day trip to New York, which turned out to be one of the happiest times I’ve had during my time here at Princeton.
Brings Most Joy: When I’m down, holding or petting a Pikachu cheers me up more than I would like to admit. Other than that, I would have to say my crafts contribute the most to my mental well-being. Much like how other people bang out a song on the piano or work up a sweat in the gym to relieve stress, making my crafts actually helps me reset mentally. It’s like meditation, except I end up with another thing to decorate my room with.
No Longer Like: I liked how homey and personal the space felt, so I used to spend a lot of time in it. However, no one really goes to Spelman to spend time in a single when there’s a common room, so I began to associate it with solitude. I still watch videos or do some reading in it sometimes, but now I’m in my room mainly just to sleep. I spend all my time in Colonial instead!
Dorm Style: Crafts, blues, and Pikachus
HADLEY NEWTON ’16
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Major: Art & Archaeology (Art History)
Certificate: European Cultural Studies
Activities: Nassau Weekly, Princeton University Museum Student Advisory Board
Dorm: Pyne Hall
Dorm Inspiration: I knew I wanted it to be white and blue and have lots of space for lounging. Lounging is very important to me.
Elicits Strongest Memories: I have a tiny photo of my brother and me on my bedside table that I have had for as long as I can remember. It feels like I get to bring a little bit of childhood with me.
Brings Most Joy: Probably my couch and coffee table and window. It’s so nice to curl up and read in that nook.
No Longer Like: Probably my closet, which used to have some sort of organizing principle but has since devolved into a black hole.
Dorm Style: A Napper’s Oasis
JULIE CHEN ’17
Hometown: San Jose, CA
Certificate: Statistics & Machine Learning
Activities: Students for Prison Education and Reform, Breakout Princeton, WPRB
Dorm: 1903 Hall
Dorm Inspiration: I got most of the decorations in my room from Free & For Sale.
Elicits Strongest Memories: The Joe Biden poster. This isn’t my own memory, but Joe Biden once touched my roommate’s face. So the poster elicits that memory for everybody in the room.
Brings Most Joy: The Kanye heads! My friend and I put them up to celebrate our birthdays, and I ended up keeping them up. Being reminded of his bold personality every day is always a confidence-booster.
No Longer Like: The Barack Obama Chia pet. I liked it a lot when I first got it, but I’m very bad at taking care of plants. So, he’s really not looking so great right now! I’ll try re-growing it next year.
Dorm Style: Empowering