Brain massage, silvery sparkle inside the head, sedative sensation, brain-gasm, goose bumps – This is the world of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response). I’ve actually known about this for ages, as I’m sure you have. The number of times I’ve heard this mentioned on a call as a “culturally relevant” trick a brand can use to seem disruptive.

Last weekend Untitled took a quick visit to the Design Museum in Kensington London to see their current paid for exhibition focused on ASMR. It’s £12 for adults.

ArkDes and the Design Museum 2022. Photographer: Ed Reeve

It came in a wave, like a warm effervescence, making its way down the length of her spine and leaving behind a sense of gratitude and wholeness.

Jamie Lauren Keiles writing about ASMR for The New York Times Magazine
Tobias Bradford, immeasurable thirst/that feeling. ArkDes and the Design Museum 2022. Photographer: Nelta Kasparian

Whispering, eating, touching, tapping. The link between mind and body is evident. How watching or listening can give you an immediate physical response. In the pamphlet, on walls and through the sounds playing around the space you get this really nice sense of rich sensory texture.

Andreas Wannerstedt, an artist working out of Stockholm makes “sophisticated and whimsical” images that catch your eye.
Seamless kinetic 3D loop Endless Eye by Oscar Pettersson

With the motion pieces it’s almost as if you can’t look away. You’re drawn in. You can’t take your eyes off them and there’s this satisfying endless loop rhythm to them.

Say ASMR on a Zoom call in a creative agency today and you’ll likely be seen as a lazy hack. It’s kind of past the peak of novelty. But I like it for the very fact that it is now gaining traction outside of it’s niche.

I also loved the little Easter eggs in the pamphlet. Not sure if it’s intentional or not, but the designer has printed what looks like little hairs: I even tried to wipe one of them off before I realised it was printed!

ASMR now belongs in a museum exhibit. It remains to be seen whether something so born on the Internet (and likely viewed privately on a tiny screen) works when blown up large, put in a room with four white walls and commercialised. We’ll let you decide. A welcome distraction from the bustle of shops along Kensington high street.

Exhibition runs until April 2023

ASMR exhibition at the Design Museum