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A trippy new exhibit at Cooper Hewitt will push the boundaries of your senses

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

Cooper Hewitt’s new exhibition has to be felt, heard and touched to be believed.

The Senses: Design Beyond Vision explores how all of our senses affect the mind and body using mediums like space, sound and light.

Some highlights of the highly interactive new show include a furry wall with digital sensors that plays music, a Seated Catalog of Feelings that sends patterns of vibration through a chair to evoke specific sensations and a Feather Fountain by artist Daniel Wurtzel, which uses aerodynamic principles to continuously keep feathers aloft.

Photograph: Courtesy Sosolimited

“Across all industries and disciplines, designers are avidly seeking ways to stimulate our sensory responses to solve problems of access and enrich our interactions with the world,” said Cooper Hewitt’s director Caroline Baumann. “‘The Senses’ shares their discoveries and invites personal revelation of the extraordinary capacity of the senses to inform and delight.” 

That capacity is also illuminated through installations like a digital animation that transforms bird songs into bursts of color, and a light that changes from cool to warm based on your movements. Meanwhile, unique scents in the space merge with textures and words to create new associations for the viewer.

You can experience all the multisensory design for yourself at the Upper East Side museum Friday, April 13 through October 28.

Photograph: Nicola Tree, Courtesy of Lina Saleh

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