Innovative, beautiful design is important to the world we live in today and with the Design Museum now open in its new home, the former Commonwealth Institute building at High Street Kensington, London, the world has regained a great new source of design inspiration. For The Marketing Store London designers and creatives, it was a must-do trip to get closer to and be inspired by all that’s great and good in the world of design.
The Design museum started out life in the early 1980s as an exhibition space in the V&A’s basement. It was known as the Boiler House project and was the brain child of sir Terrence Conran; he wanted to finance something which “looked at design in a contemporary way”. It first opened in 1989 in a former banana warehouse in Shad Thames and was one of the most famous 1960s buildings of its day. But this mid-20th century building has now been reinvented and re-purposed to house the Design Museum’s collection.
The sheer scale and space within the building now means the main collection can now be viewed by the public free of charge, although there are many excellent exhibitions available to view at a fee. The Cathedral-like spaces you encounter as you enter inside the building for the first time are awe-inspiring in their own right. The central staircase is a particular joy, inviting you in and upwards on an exciting journey of discovery.
Part of the free collection consists of a crowd-sourced wall of over 200 popular consumer items, chosen by the public. Many of the exhibits are arranged thematically and out of context to their place in history, enabling the viewer to look at the items with fresh eyes and judge them for what they are, not what they were. This was a very interesting approach for us, finding ways of looking at the world with fresh eyes contemporizes and makes our own work relevant to the times we live in.
One of the highlights of our trip was the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition, which covers architecture, digital design, fashion, graphics, product design and transport. As well as exploring the designs online, viewers are invited to share their thoughts on whether, for example, a Beazley Design of the Year should be beautiful, emotive, beneficial to the environment, be innovative, provoke debate or solve a problem. You can then watch the results come to life with some very intuitive infographics.
Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec was a project that stood out in particular to us. In a world where we are all reliant on data and the speed at which it can be acquired to help better inform our decisions, this innovative approach to collating personal data by two designers was at once refreshing and beautiful. Giorgia and Stefanie recorded everything from their emotional state, desires and daily productivity to their wardrobe choices and urban wildlife encounters – all on hand drawn postcards. The correspondence made the designers more aware of their actions and environments, and exposed data as a creative tool that can reveal the complex nuances of our lives.
There were many other highlights including David Bowie’s Black Star, the Lumos bicycle helmet, the Shot on iPhone 6 campaign and the code book for kids to mention just a few.
The role of the museum is to tell the story of what design is and how important it is to the world we live in today. Whether we are product, print or digital designers, we all need to get outside of our comfort zones and take inspiration from creative ideas from all walks of life, this is a great place to do that. I highly recommend a visit.