Inside 29Rooms, media brand Refinery29’s immersive art festival at the Ex

Inside 29Rooms, media brand Refinery29’s immersive art festival at the Ex

Media brand Refinery29 has been pumping out female-focused lifestyle stories since they launched their site in 2005. To celebrate their 10th anniversary a few years ago, they decided to create an offline experience that would showcase the work of many of the creatives they’ve discovered and worked with over the years. They took over a warehouse in Brooklyn and filled it with 29 immersive installations and experiences from a mix of local and international artists. Since then, the exhibit has popped up in a few cities, and Toronto is the second-to-last stop on a recent tour. The individual rooms are bold, interactive and occasionally provide social or political commentary (in addition to Instagram opportunities, of course). It’s on until October 6 at Exhibition Place, and tickets can be purchased here. Here’s what you can expect to see:

For the Toronto show, they enlisted local artist Maria Qamar, a.k.a. Hatecopy, to make a welcoming mural:

Next to it, there’s an art studio where visitors can experiment for themselves:

There’s also an “art park,” with pieces from five artists (one from each of the five tour stops). The Toronto-based artist is Hannah Epstein, who uses textiles to critique popular culture. This two-sided piece moves like a spinning coin, and symbolizes how separate choices can lead us into vastly different futures:

In this room, visitors can sit down at a station, stick their hands through a crack, and have their palms read by a stranger on the other side. It’s meant to be about surrendering control and putting your destiny in the hands of someone else:

This installation was made in collaboration with singer Kali Uchis. The doorways are meant to represent your dreams:

This one was made with Unbothered, a Refinery29 platform by and for millennial-aged Black women. It’s called “A Long Line of Queendom,” and celebrates the spectrum of black women’s experiences:

Called “A Conversation With Your Inner Child,” this room encourages visitors to reconnect with their inner child by staring at their reflection in the mirror and writing a note to it:

This space, a collaboration with a mystic known as The Hoodwitch, is all about self-care. Guests can relax in the crystal cave, meditate and listen to life-affirming mantras:

Made with Dominican textile artist Uzumaki Cepeda, this room is a furry take on a typical teenage bedroom (complete with a retro Nintendo set-up):

This tinsel-filled cave is exclusively for dance breaks:

There’s also an unusual dining experience. Refinery29 partnered with Stella Artois and chef Connie DeSousa (she runs Calgary restaurant Charcut) to create three rooms designed to stimulate the five senses. This one puts a social spin on the drive-through experience by letting visitors access this secret café after they order at a nondescript window:

Another was inspired by vending machines. Visitors can choose cheese toast or crème brûlée, and smell the food as it’s being prepared behind the machine:

These pretty macarons are actually savoury flavours like bagel and lox: