These 21 bedrooms from across the world will help you understand millennials.

What can you learn about someone from seeing their bedroom?

There are all kinds of theories about how things like color and clutter can convey everything from romantic viability to mental health and so much more. But suffice to say: Those private places where we rest our heads can sure reveal a lot.

Perhaps a better question is: What can you learn about people in general from seeing lots and lots and lots of bedrooms?

That's what French photographer John Thackwray wanted to know.


As part of that vaguely-defined group of '80s and '90s babies known as "millennials," Thackwray saw firsthand how technology was changing the world at increasingly rapid rates and began to wonder about the impact that was having on his generation all around the world. What was the relationship between internet connectivity and inequality and things like education, women's rights, and poverty?

What better way to find out than to look at people's bedrooms?

A map of everywhere that Thackwray shot a "My Room" photograph. ​All photos by John Thackwray/My Room Project.

Over a period of six years, Thackwray photographed and interviewed more than 1,200 young people in their bedrooms (or other sleeping spaces) in 55 different countries.

Like him, they were all millennials. Thackwray found his subjects with the help of friends, social media, and local NGOs — although he did occasionally ask random people on the street if he could photograph their bedrooms, which was just as awkward, and as dangerous, as one could imagine.

But it also helped him learn a lot along the way.

"Each person has their own story and they can talk about something that is wider and more universal. [...] such as living into the war, adoptions, the traditional values, the rural exodus, or the African unity for example. I’m trying to do a big story in a small one," he explained.

Take a look at some of Thackwray's personal favorites and see for yourself what kinds of patterns or other surprising things you notice.

1. Room #24: Joseph, 30, an artist in Paris

2. Room #192: Andreea, 24, a civil engineer in Bucharest, Romania

3. Room #205: Gullé, 29, an actress in Istanbul, Turkey

4. Room #219: Maleeq, 28, an entertainer in New York City

5. Room #256: Ryoko, 25, an IT engineer in Tokyo

6. Room #290: Yuan, 22, a seller in Dali, China

7. Room #313: Fha, 20, a farmer in Ban Sai Ngam, Thailand

8. Room #348: Asha, 17, a housewife in Bamansemilya, India

9. Room #385: Pema, 22, a Buddhism student in Kathmandu, Nepal

10. Room #416: Oleg, 24, a telecom engineer in Novosibirsk, Russia

11. Room #458: Zhalay, 18, a high school student in Zhambyl, Kazakhstan

12. Room #466: Élahé, 29, a painter in Tehran, Iran

13. Room #561: Ben, 22, a movie student in Dallas

14. Room #665: Marcello, 18, a high school student in La Paz, Bolivia

15. Room #711: Claudio, 24, an archivist in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

16. Room #733: Fatou, 17, a seamstress in Thiès, Senegal

17. Room #807: Mohamad, 18, a high school student in Saint Catherine, Egypt

18. Room #867: Ezekiel, 22, a warrior-nomad in Echo Manyata, Kenya

19. Room #915: Josee, 22, an accounting student in Kigali, Rwanda

20. Room #1049: Osia, 18, a shepherd in Ha Selomo, Lesotho

21. Room #1093: Sabrina, 27, a kindergarten teacher in Shatila, Lebanon

These photos are all clearly similar in their bird's eye views of smiling subjects. But they have more in common than one might notice at first glance.

"Most of them share an access to Internet and social network, including Saudi young women and farmers in the African bush. This is definitely the connected generation," Thackwray said. "And something important to keep in my mind is that this is the youth who is designing the world of tomorrow."

They also all have items of personal significance that they keep close to them — which perhaps isn't surprising, but is still a moving reminder that we all fall into the same habits, and seek those small moments of happiness in surprisingly similar ways.

"Many people confuse comfort and happiness," Thackwray said. "Actually I've see more smiles in poor countries, and much more depression in developed countries."

The private places where people sleep reveal a lot about us as individuals. But viewed together, they make a powerful statement about how we all seek solace and serenity, despite our differences in race, religion, gender, career, income, and experience.

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Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

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"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

SK-II

"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

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"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

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One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

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"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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