Design Museum launches the UK’s first ASMR exhibition

The Design Museum has launched the UK’s first ever exhibition on ASMR. WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD: The World of ASMR, is an exploration of the online phenomenon known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR).

Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the design story through a series of 40 audio, visual, and tactile works. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design.

Exhibition images by Ed Reeve

In recent years, an audience of millions has grown to watch the work of designers and content creators who trigger the physical sensations of ASMR. These senses include euphoria or deep calm, sometimes a tingling in the body. This is done by whispering or eating, touching or tapping, and more.

The exhibition features a section dedicated to mesmerising 3D motion design, immediately establishing the artform’s close relationship with emerging technologies. Alongside digital works, the event includes paintings and corresponding episodes of The Joy of Painting by the celebrated TV artist and ‘Godfather of ASMR’ Bob Ross – the first time they are being exhibited in the UK.

Exhibition images by Ed Reeve

Twelve ASMRtists will be present at the event to share their definitions of the movement. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience mysterious objects that embody these definitions, including a salivating tongue by artist Tobias Bradford, and researcher Marc Teyssier’s prototype of an artificial skin for a mobile device.

Guests can walk through a live studio-space created by artist and researcher Julie Rose Bower, exploring the act of close-listening through five unique installations including echoes in a cave, the crunch of snow underfoot, the sound of a coin dropping into a wishing well, and more. 

The ASMR Arena is a structure made from a continuous pillow where visitors can immerse themselves in a selection of audio-visual works and explore examples of Unintentional ASMR that celebrate the variety of ways that the feelings can be triggered.

The exhibition also features a landscape of Intentional ASMR, shedding light on some of the more specialist practices of ASMRtists from around the world: “Expect to see an instructional ASMR baking video, traditional wet-shaving in a Japanese barbershop, and dogs getting haircuts in a Korean dog-grooming salon. Also featured are examples commissioned by IKEA and Virgin Atlantic, showing how ASMR techniques are used to make soothing content in a commercial context.”