Home Future. The Design Museum explores today’s home through the prism of yesterday’s imagination

Home Futures – at the Design Museum in London from 7 November 2018 – explores today’s home through the prism of yesterday’s imagination.

cover: Ugo La Pietra, Casa Telematica (1982), or the Televised House, imagined a home where TV screens would be integrated into every piece of domestic furniture. Suggesting ways in which media and telecommunication will change the homes of the future, this image from the early 1980s calls to mind the omnipresence of screens in our contemporary lives.
Image credit | Archivio Ugo La Pietra, Milano. 

Are we living in the way that pioneering architects and designers throughout the 20th century predicted, or has our idea of home proved resistant to real change?

The ‘home of the future’ has long intrigued designers and popular culture alike. Bringing together avant-garde speculations with contemporary objects and new commissions, the exhibition Home Futures explores today’s home through the prism of yesterday’s imagination.

Through more than 150 objects and experiences, historical notions of the mechanized home and the compact home are displayed alongside contemporary phenomena such as connected devices and the sharing economy.
Rare works on display include original furniture from the Smithsons’ House of the Future (1956), original footage from the General Motors Kitchen of Tomorrow (1956), Home Environment by Ettore Sottsass (1972) and an original model of Total Furnishing Unit by Joe Colombo (1972), providing visitors with a thought-provoking view of yesterday’s tomorrow.


Peter Smithson, Alison Margareth Smithson, House of the Future, Daily Mail Ideal Homes Exhibition, London, England, 1955 -1956. (image from CCA Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal https://www.cca.qc.ca/en/issues/2/what-the-future-looked-like/32734/1956-house-of-the-future )

Reflecting one of the exhibition’s six themes, ‘living with others’, the exhibition will also feature ‘One Shared House 2030’, a project launched by New York-based Anton & Irene and the IKEA-funded ‘future living lab’, SPACE10.
Designed as a collaborative research project, the aim is to get a better sense of what the ideal, hypothetical co-living space of 2030 would look like, as a first step in the design journey.

Exhibition themes

Living smart
This section of the exhibition traces the modernist ideal of the ‘home as machine’ and pairs it with the contemporary vision of the ‘smart home’.
Exhibits include original works by the illustrator Heath Robinson, depicting comic household contraptions, and the model of Villa Arpel from Jacques Tati’s film Mon Oncle juxtaposed with a range of smart home devices and experiences.

Living on the move
In the 20th century visions of a fluid, nomadic way of life were often articulated as a critique of consumerism and ownership, proposing ‘a world without objects’. This section brings together nomadic visions from this era with contemporary examples of the sharing economy. Collages by Superstudio, illustrations by Archigram and a life-size prototype of Home Environment by Ettore Sottsass are displayed alongside a provocative film by Beka & Lemoine called Selling Dreams that explores one man’s life spent in hotel rooms.


In 1969, years before laptops allowed for work on the go, Hans Hollein proposed a mobile office in the form of a transparent bubble. It forecasted the conditions of work and life in an automated, networked world. Image credit | Gino Molin-Pradl, Copyright: Private Archive Hollein. 

Living autonomously
This section explores self-reliant models of domestic life that are environmentally responsible and often anti-consumerist. Visions of self-sufficient living include Enzo Maris Autoprogettazione (1974), a design guide to assembling furniture from basic materials using just a hammer and nails, which is paralleled with contemporary Open Source design. The section features a newly commissioned series of modular furniture by Brussels-based design studio Open Structures.

Living with less
One recurring ideal of the 20th century was that housing shortages could be solved with fully fitted home units and micro-living solutions. Joe Colombo’s Total Furnishing Unit (1972), a multifunctional unit for every domestic need, is presented through original drawings and a model produced as part of the project’s design development. Contemporary examples of living with less include Gary Chang’s Hong Kong Transformer apartment (a micro apartment with shifting walls), work by world-renowned design office Industrial Facility, and a newly commissioned study of minimal dwellings by the architect Pier Vittorio Aureli.

Living with others
This section explores the way in which we negotiate privacy in the home, and the impact of media on domestic behavior, from the early Soviet dystopias of the total loss of privacy to the 1980s exploration of the role of telecommunications in the home. Key references include Sergei Eisenstein’s sketches for the Glass House, Ugo La Pietra’s Telematic House, Dunne & Raby’s Electro-Draught Excluder, Jurgen Bey’s Linen Cupboard House, and Superflux’s film Uninvited Guests.

Domestic Arcadia
The final section questions the functionalist approach to the home by exploring an alternative vision that sees it as a place of organic forms that evoke the natural landscape. Furniture and interiors from the Italian Radical Design movement by Pietro Derossi, Michele de Lucchi and Gaetano Pesce will be compared with contemporary design by the Bouroullec brothers among others.


Superstudio, Supersurface was a speculative proposal for a universal grid that would allow people to live without objects or the need to work, in a state of permanent nomadism. | Superstudio, Supersurface: The Happy Island, 1971. Image: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence. 

Home Futures
7 November 2018 / 24 March 2019
the Design Museum
Kensington High Street, W8 6AG, London

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