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Design Museum

16th Jun 2016

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It’s a dawning of a new era for the Design Museum which is well on its way to opening up at its new home on Kensington High Street in November 2016. The new museum will be the result of an £83 million transformation of a Grade II listed landmark building from the 1960s, bringing together a formidable troupe of British design teams.

Acclaimed architect and designer, John Pawson is remodelling the interior of the former Commonwealth Institute in a project that will increase the museum’s size threefold, and facilitate a significantly extended learning programme and a wider range of exhibitions. Wilmott Dixon Interiors were awarded the fit out contract for the building while Concord are designing a lighting scheme to highlight its architectural features. Cartlidge Levene, Fernando Gutiérrez Studio, Phaidon and Swiss company, Vitra, are also contributing towards the overall aesthetic and experience – from wayfinding systems and office furniture to a brand refresh and a book.

The Design Museum’s new building will include the Swarovski Foundation Centre for Learning, the Bakala Auditorium, the Sackler Library & Archive and a Designers in Residence Studio. There will also be a café, restaurant, and members’ room.

For the first time in the museum’s history, it will feature a permanent, open-access display of its collection Designer Maker User, which is being put together by Studio Myerscough. A literal credit to its name, the collection tells the story of contemporary design with emphasis on these three roles and their interconnection. As an example, the collection will include the Vespa Clubman. Designed by Corradino d’Ascanio; made by Piaggio; used by the Italians (and Alfie).

Opening exhibitions have also been revealed, the first of which, Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World, has been pieced together by the museum’s Chief Curator, Justin McGuirk. Featuring a series of newly commissioned installations, Fear and Love is an insight into our hopes and doubts about the pace and impact of change. The flagship Designs of The Year will also show, returning for its ninth outing.

A testament to the power of philanthropy, the design museum is a charity that generates over 95 percent of its running cost from admissions, membership, trading, donations and sponsors. Built in 1989 with principal funding from The Conran Foundation, the Design Museum’s Shad Thames building was sold to Zaha Hadid Architects in June 2013. Maintaining their endorsements, the foundation has now gifted the proceeds from the sale to support construction of the new museum. This is a delightfully apt exchange that has helped to perpetuate the advance of design on both sides.

‘This move will redefine the Design Museum as the most inspiring, exciting and engaging contemporary design and architecture museum in the world, with 10,000 square metres of space… 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.’ - Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum

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