The new Design Museum

Wednesday, 25 January 2017


The new Design Museum opened last year (where have those couple of months gone?) but it wasn't until this month that I managed to get all the way over to Kensington to have a proper look! I had spent the morning at Blissets Binders having a tour of the workshop with some of my classmates, and it was only a few stops on the tube, so I decided to pay a visit.

The museum is now housed in the former Commonwealth Institute building, originally constructed in the 1960s and now Grade II listed. The result of the museum's work with John Pawson is a really exciting space which is fit to showcase the best of design. I love that they worked with the existing fanned concrete roof, making it a beautiful feature. The sheer amount of space is so impressive - it really makes the museum a social space rather than just a display. On a freezing Thursday afternoon it was packed with people enjoying the (very tasty) food at the cafe, relaxing in the hall, playing in the fountains and checking out the displays. As well as the new permanent display, there are two paid exhibitions and free displays, plus the 'designers in residence', showcasing some really creative responses to the 2016 theme, 'Open'. A particularly interesting development is the huge space set aside for learning, something which a lot of museum learning departments would love to see! I'm really excited to see how the learning and public programme at the museum develop in their new space.

I didn't have a lot of time on my hands, so I spent it exploring the permanent display, 'Designer Maker User'. It is a really interesting look at design through three central roles, and covers an astonishing array of design from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It's exciting to see a focus on the huge impact design has had on social issues: from the 'Trillion Dollar Campaign' bringing attention to the hyperinflation experienced in Zimbabwe and the 'Bliar' placard designed by David Gentleman for the 2003 protest against the Iraq war, or Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky's development of fitted kitchens which aided women's emancipation and the fantastic e-Nable community producing 3D-printed prosthetics for those who can't afford them. Also featured is a crowd-sourced wall of important design objects - a fascinating example of how ubiquitous certain designs have become in our society! This free display alone is worth your time and your tube ticket.

FIND THE DESIGN MUSEUM AT: 224-238 Kensington High Street, London, W8 6AG






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