Design Museum – London
The Design Museum is a museum in central London covering all fields of design, from architecture to graphic design, from fashion to industrial design.
With a gross floor area of over 100,000 square feet, it is one of the largest design museums in the world.
Opened to the public in 1989 in Shad Thames (a street near Tower Bridge), the Design Museum is housed since 2016 in the former Commonwealth Institute in Kensington.
The new museum is part of the larger Holland Green redevelopment project supervised by OMA / Rem Koolhaas together with Allies and Morrison; the exterior of the 1960s building of the museum was renovated after a design by OMA, while the interior was designed by British architect John Pawson.
Encompassing a gross floor area of 107,000 square feet, the museum’s home accommodates permanent and temporary exhibition areas, a special event space, a learning facility, studios for designers in residence, a 202-seat auditorium, a library and archive, a member’s lounge, two stores, a cafe, and a restaurant.
The Design Museum’s new home in the former Commonwealth Institute in the Kensington district, central London; photo © Sebastian van Damme courtesy of OMA
Schematic view of the Holland Green redevelopment plan with the new Design Museum at the center, image courtesy of OMA
Photo by Flavio Coddou, courtesy of John Pawson Ltd
The museum’s collection, amounting to over 3,000 pieces, including furniture, light fixtures, communication devices, domestic appliances, power tools, consumer electronics products, typewriters, tableware, ceramics, vehicles, and graphic designs, dating from the early-20th century to the present.
Entitled Designer Maker User, the permanent exhibition of the Design Museum showcases some 1000 objects, presented into three main sections.
Taking the cue from the slogan “from the spoon to the city” coined by Italian architect Ernesto Nathan Rogers in the ’50s to emphasize how design should cope with multiple aspects of contemporary society at every scale, the section Designer investigates the design process of both small and large products, with a particular emphasis on urban and transport design.
Marker focuses on manufacturing and depicts the production process through an array of exemplary objects: from Thonet’s bentwood chairs to the London 2012 Olympic torch, from the Ford Model T to 3D-printed products.
The section User presents the relationship between people and industrial products, with a strong emphasis on consumer electronics, vehicles, and communication devices.
Besides the 3 main sections, the permanent exhibition also includes special installations, such as the Crowdsourced Wall, an exhibition of 200 iconic objects from the museum’s collection selected through a public poll and displayed on a rotational basis at the entrance of the exhibition.
Along with its permanent exhibition, the Design museum features temporary and pop-up exhibitions, special events, talks, debates, workshops, and educational activities.
Interior views of the Design Museum in London; photos by Flavio Coddou, courtesy of John Pawson Ltd
Permanent exhibition, “Maker” section, Mould for the no. 14 chair by Gebrüder Thonet; photo courtesy of the Design Museum, London
Permanent exhibition, “Maker” section, Piaggio Vespa Clubman (1946), designer: Corradino d’Ascanio; photo courtesy of the Design Museum, London
Permanent exhibition, “User” section, Microsoft Xbox controller, “S” edition (Crystal), 2004; photo courtesy of the Design Museum, London
Permanent installation “Crowdsourced Wall”; photo courtesy of the Design Museum, London
Cover image: photo by Flavio Coddou, courtesy of John Pawson Ltd
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