The contemporary museum is a hermetically sealed space that dictates a carefully coded standard of behavior to be observed at all times: no sounds, no smells, and definitely, definitely no taking your shoes off.
Not so at Luxembourg’s Mudam, where a new show called Sensorium invites visitors to touch, smell, and taste the art. Harking back to the work of ’60s and ’70s installation groups like Fluxus, the museum’s light-filled atrium sets the stage for a series of interventions created by Les M, a French design office headed by Céline Merhand and Anaïs Morel.
The concept behind Sensorium, explain Mudam’s curators, is to "provoke interaction and surprise." In a screened-off corner of the atrium, a parallelogram bed and soft duvet invite spontaneous naps. Visitors can walk barefoot across a platform made of spongy wooden facets, and a 6-inch-deep bed of white brush bristles. Three hanging pendant lamps contain circular herb gardens, their domes just wide enough to comfortably smell Lamb’s Ear and fragrant, rare spices.
The show was accompanied by five design workshops, each devoted to one of the five senses. For touch, Merhand and Morel taught visitors the traditional craft of bristle brush making, a technique they use frequently in their product design. Another workshop, this time for smell, was hosted by the duo’s classmate, the olfactory artist Junsoo Ban. At the Sensorium opening, electric blue drinks were served along with synesthesia-inducing hors d’oeuvres, giving revelers a glimpse of what it must have been like to attend Yves Klein’s infamous blue party in 1958.
Les M was founded four years ago by Merhand and Morell, both 28, who attended design school together in Rennes. Since then, they’ve developed a following for their tactile installation pieces, such as climbable pillow structures that have appeared in museums across Europe, and the Cucon, a sleeping bag/chair hybrid. Sensorium is on view until August 28.
[H/t Design Milk]