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Supermarket: creativity is essential

26th Apr 2021

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As restrictions eased across England last week, the country’s museums and galleries remain closed to the public. Despite a 92% drop in income, the Design Museum proved it is defiantly undeterred. Teaming up with Camille Walala and Bombay Sapphire, they transformed their shop into a pop-up supermarket selling products with packaging designed by emerging artists. At this installation, creativity was an essential item.

Supermarket, which launched on 21st April, promised to help visitors "nourish their creativity and purchase limited edition works of art” as they tick off their weekly shopping list. For just five days, shoppers could buy everything from tea bags by Katherine Plumb to toilet roll to Michaela Yearwood-Dan to washing up liquid by Jess Warby. The full range was also available to buy online. All proceeds will be donated to the Emerging Designer Access Fund which provides up-and-coming artists with free access to the Design Museum.

Led by artist and designer Camille Walala, her signature style of explosive polychromatic visuals and clashing pop-art patterns made for a dramatic, Memphis-esque storefront that stood out among its neighbours. Speaking ahead of its unveiling, Camille commented, “the past year has been really challenging for artists who haven’t been able to show work or collaborate as normal. Supermarket is a great way to not only support the Design Museum, but also shine a spotlight on the ten brilliant young artists who through this project have a new platform for their work.”

April 12th hailed the end of daily routines spent flicking between zoom calls and grocery aisles. With three months of lockdown under our belts, many of us are on a quest for an antidote to our creative fatigue. The riot of colours, patterns and shapes found in Supermarket was a dose of much-needed artistry. “Our high streets, museums and galleries have been hit hard by the pandemic; this is an opportunity to get people back to enjoying our cultural institutions safely and creatively,” said the chief executive of the Design Museum, Tim Marlow, when the installation first opened. “This installation is an opportunity to rethink about what we buy, who profits and what we consider to be essential.”

After a successful run, the exhibition-cum-grocery store has shut up shop again but we’re looking forward to being back in the Grade II-listed former Commonwealth Institute on Tuesday, May 18th.

Browse the Design Museum’s website to learn about upcoming exhibitions and follow them on Instagram (@designmuseum) for daily updates.