The Design Museum in London re-opened on November 24, with a free permanent display of its collection for the first time in the museum’s history. The new venue on Kensington High Street is the result of an 83 million pound transformation of a listed landmark building from the 1960s. The move to Kensington will enable the museum to fulfill its vision, aiming to inspire everyone to understand the value of design. The new museum has over 9,000 square meters of internal space, over three times the size of the current museum, and is expected to welcome over half a million visitors each year.
A free design gallery, Designer Maker User, tells the story of contemporary design, using the museum's collection. The highlights of the collection include the Vespa Clubman designed by Corradino d’Ascanio and made by Piaggio, Ettore Sottsass and Perry King’s Valentine typewriter for Olivetti, the Sony TPS L2 Walkman designed by Nobutoshi Kihara, and Ossie Clarke and Celia Britwell’s Paper Dress. The first two temporary exhibitions in the museum are Fear and Love: Reaction to a Complex World and Design of the Year. “Fear and Love” is an insight into our hopes and doubts about the pace and impact of change, the first exhibition from the museum's Chief Curator, Justin Mcguire. In a Designers in Residence studio, you can watch the museum's four chosen residents each creating new work, and see the final displays of their projects.
Acclaimed designer, John Pawson, remodeled the interior. The project enabled a significantly extended learning program and a greater range of exhibitions. The museum’s vital identity was enhanced by the Fernando Gutierrez Studio. Concord has worked with the museum to design the building’s lighting scheme and highlight its architectural features. There are also other significant partnerships; Vitra’s furniture will be used throughout the museum’s public spaces and office areas; Phaedon will publish books to accompany the museum’s major exhibitions, as well as a new guide to and history of the Design Museum. The Swarovski Foundation Centre for Learning will be included in the Design Museum’s new building. The Centre for Learning includes a design studio, a design workshop, two seminar rooms and a common room.
Dean Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum, said, “this move will redefine the Design Museum as the most inspiring, exciting and engaging contemporary design and architecture museum in the world. Design is the way to ask questions about what technology is doing to us, to explore how the world will look and work as well as to define new aesthetic approaches. The museum will have a challenging program that encourages new work and new thinking, and the touring, digital and publications program will take the message around the world. The museum will nurture new generations of designers and continue its history of recognizing and supporting emerging design talent”.
Sir Terence Conran, founder of the Design Museum considers the project as the single most rewarding achievement in his long design career. He says, “it was a hugely important moment for design in the UK at the time and for me personally. Since 1989 the museum has always led the way and been the first to show some of the work and inspirations of many of the most important designers and architects on the planet”. Kensington is a place “where all our dreams and ambitions to create the best and most important design museum in the world will become a step closer to reality”. It is a project that makes his long lifetime in design absolutely worthwhile. The new design hub is going to be another reason to visit London.