woman in front of building
Young Curators 2022

The Design Museum's Priya Khanchandani Shrugs Off the Bounds of Disciplines

Priya Khanchandani’s curatorial career is as interdisciplinary is as interdisciplinary as one comes. As head of curatorial at the Design Museum in London, her exhibitions span design, fashion, architecture, music and popular culture. “I don’t really see the world as being divided by the fixed boundaries of disciplines,” she says. “There is much to be gained by working in the in-between spaces. Those who haven’t tried it are missing out.” Khanchandani started out as a lawyer and, up until two years ago, she was the editor of ICON Magazine, the British publication with a fresh, intellectual take on architecture, design and culture.

woman in front of building
Priya Khanchandani.

“I recently curated a display about the fashion designer Bethany Williams. Each of her projects involves a partnership with a different charity or community,” says Khanchandani of the current exhibition, which deals with social and environmental issues. “Before that, I worked on a very different exhibition about another woman I admire greatly, the musician Amy Winehouse.” This season, Khanchandani unveils “WEIRD SENSATION FEELS GOOD: The World of ASMR,” a pioneering exhibition for visitors to
experience the emerging field of creativity around designers who generate Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response—the physical sensation of euphoric calm, or body tingling, triggered by sound, touch and movement.

In partnership with ArkDes, Sweden’s National Centre for Architecture and Design, the show shifts the significant ASMR online movement to an immersive, museum environment. “Be prepared to kick your shoes off, lie back in a cushioned space and experience sound, touch and tingles,” Khanchandani says. “It’s been a challenging time for the arts sector. We’ve emerged from a pandemic, during which we had to close our doors to the public. For the first time, we are confronting a long legacy of exclusion in a constructive way, following Black Lives Matter,” she says. “We have a long way to go, but there are more opportunities than before for positive change, and untold stories to tell, which makes the arts sector a dynamic place to be right now.”