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Only a few months ago, Azure released our annual roundup of the year’s most highly anticipated architecture and design exhibitions. Taking place in galleries and museums from Mexico City to Stockholm, and with themes ranging from the countryside to the dance floor, these landmark showcases were set to ground design discourse of the next decade.

Now, as we collectively deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, many of these institutions have temporarily closed their doors. However, this does not mean that the extensive work involved in mounting their exhibitions need go to waste. A number of galleries have pivoted, leaning on their digital arms to help engage viewers from the comforts of their own homes.

Here, we look at five of the most striking online exhibitions, on topics including ASMR, sustainability and material ecology, that are available to anyone with a wifi signal.

Weird Sensation Feels Good

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a form of low-grade euphoria produced by the “gentle sound, touch and movement” captured in online videos of voices whispering, clothes rustling and more. The virtual phenomenon is the subject of Swedish institution ArkDes‘ latest exhibition, Weird Sensation Feels Good, which is intended to explore the relationship between the physical world and this immaterial content. Fittingly, much of the proposed installation has been moved online.

“Although we have built this exhibition for both the body and the mind,” says curator James Taylor-Foster, “now (and for obvious reasons) we invite you to experience it with your ears and eyes.” A virtual vernissage – streamed by e-flux on April 7 from 11am to 12:30pm EST – will launch the landmark show with one-on-one guided tours of the stimulating works within.

Eileen Gray

Furniture, architecture, interiors and more: Ireland-born Eileen Gray was a pioneering figure in Modern design who, alongside contemporaries like Le Corbusier, shaped how and where we live. Curated by Cloé Pitiot, the first survey of her expansive body of work in North America (featuring over 200 works) opened at the Bard Graduate Centre Gallery in New York in late February.

As part of Eileen Gray, Bard has released a never-before-seen interview with the legendary designer directed by Michael Pitiot and, since the closure, has made its symposium on Gray available to stream.

Formafantasma: Cambio

Though Amsterdam-based Formafantasma‘s highly anticipated design research project Cambio is no longer viewable at London’s Serpentine Galleries, the institution has moved much of the dense exhibition online, accessible using the Bloomberg Connects App. In lieu of public programming, the Serpentine has cleverly leveraged Instagram Live to feature “weekly conversations and readings on design and sustainability” with guests including Paola Antonelli, Stefano Boeri, and more. Catch these interviews every Thursday at 2:30 pm BST.

Neri Oxman: Material Ecology
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With Neri Oxman’s landmark exhibition Material Ecology at MoMA cut short due to COVID-19-related closures across the city, the preeminent institution has made the installation shots, didactics and even the corresponding audio guides available to users anywhere. Rarely do such shows allow you to travel, and even rarer is the opportunity to peruse the MIT Media Lab professor and researcher’s extensive body of work from the comfort of your own home. Still want more? Catch Oxman’s segment on the Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design for further insight into the process behind many of the works on display.

Pace Gallery

Only months ago, Pace Gallery opened a striking new flagship just west of the the High Line in New York. Now, in response to wide-spread closures, the art world behemoth (with 10 locations around the world) has made a distinct pivot, launching online viewing rooms for digital visitors to explore works by celebrated artists, including James Turrell, Julian Schnabel and Arlene Shechet. The marquee gallery has also expanded its digital offerings, including further developing its online journal as well as featuring leading curators and artists in conversations on Instagram Live (the latest with star curator Hans Ulrich Obrist).

5 Must-See Online Design Exhibitions

As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced museums and galleries to close their doors, these once IRL exhibitions go URL.

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