Touch Me: Design and Sensation

This is a design exhibition of contemporary objects that engage in new ways with our touch senses. A collaboration with the Wellcome Trust, Touch Me brings out both the science and the cultural aspects of touch sensation and perception. And, just for a change, people are allowed to touch many of the exhibits!

Objects on display include tables and chairs that respond to the user’s body heat and pressure, garments that light up when someone hugs you, and lamps that stand to attention when you enter the room. Oh, and some very sophisticated erotic objets d’art. Artist Richard Wentworth provided a thought-provoking assemblage of museum objects based on touching by mouth, Their Lips Met.

I curated the exhibition with Lauren Parker of the V&A’s Contemporary Team. Our starting point was the idea that we live in a touch-starved society and that the quality of touch interaction with most products is nothing to what it might be. By drawing attention to communities, such as the vision- and hearing-impaired on the one hand, and craft makers on the other, we aim to show that we all have a latent capability for more creative and communicative touch.

Touch Me takes its hands-on remit seriously, with games and experiments to improve our understanding of touch, as well as an exploratory ‘petting zoo of the object’.

‘Touch Me is for everyone who has ever been told off for getting too close ... the most fun I’ve had for a long time’ The Times
‘a sensual habitat of tactile delight’ Guardian
‘I will not spoil the surprises that the exhibition has in store for you. ... It is so full of novel sensations that it is enormous fun. But at the same time, it should give us pause to consider how little attention we give to tactile sensations in ordinary, everyday life’ Desmond Morris, Daily Mail
‘fabulously quirky ... you’ll be amazed by these wonderful designs’ Sunday Express
‘ice-breakingly hilarious’ Time Out
‘It’s all great fun. Yet the exhibition’s more serious flipside poses fundamental questions about the ways in which we interact with the world around us. ... anxieties over the way new technology is reducing human contact are given a full airing.’ Financial Times
‘probably the most sensual fun you can have in London with all your clothes on’ Evening Standard

There’s more about the exhibition on the Victoria & Albert Museum website