In a stunning new building on Kensington High Street by OMA and John Pawson, London’s Design Museum reopens next week with the staggeringly ambitious exhibits Fear and Love, Designer Maker User, and Beazley Designs of the Year.
The new west London location for the Design Museum – a 1960s building which has been transformed for the institution by British architectural designer John Pawson – offers almost 10,000 square metres of exhibition space. That is triple what the institution’s previous digs provided. When the doors open next Thursday, November 24, not only will the public finally have the opportunity to take in Pawson’s much-anticipated design, but to view a trio of intriguing new exhibitions.
Fear and Love, which runs until April, is a collection of 11 installations, each responding to the complexities of today’s world. It touches on a wide variety of issues, from sentient robots to sexuality. For instance, New York/Madrid architect Andrés Jaque zeros in on the way digital culture and social networks are creating new types of interaction and behaviours, with the audio-visual installation Intimate Strangers (above). Set within the framework of a dating app, the exhibit explores the ways these apps affect the way people view themselves and their cities.
The Pan-European Living Room (pictured above) is a colourful reaction to Brexit, from Rem Koolhaas’s OMA. The space is furnished with 28 pieces of design, one from each of the 28 European Union states, creating a melting pot of a domestic interior and illustrating how much this union has shaped everyday lives. The focal point of the room is a vertical blind, which replicates the barcode flag OMA designed to represent the EU.
The new Design Museum also features Designer Maker User, an ambitously comprehensive permanent exhibit, situated on the building’s top floor. The colourful exhibition display, designed by locals Studio Myerscough, is in stark contrast to Pawson’s minimal aesthetic, yet the show owes its breadth to the museum’s tripled space. Free to the public, it draws from the museum’s collections to trace the history of contemporary design.
The show brings together over 1,000 examples of design from the 20th and 21st centuries. Split into four sections, these works are viewed through the lenses of designer, manufacturer and user, in addition to the crowdsourced wall. Included in the show are such ubiquitous products as Apple computers (like the iMac above) to demonstrate how much relationships between consumers and brands now define our world.
Designer Maker User also treks through the evolution of mass-production, exploring the manufacture of such products as the Model T Ford and Lina Bo Bardi’s Bowl Chair, from Arper, which is shown being assembled above.
An annual favourite, the Beazley Designs of the Year will also be part of the opening day festivities. It brings together the best designs of the past year from seven categories: architecture, digital, fashion, graphics, logo, product and transport. Among the nominees this year is MAD Archtect’s Harbin Opera House. Ma Yansong’s most ambitious project to date, the Chinese cultural institution features eye-popping curves to match the twists and turns of the river that flows past its site. Other nominees in the architecture category include OMA’s Fondazione Prada, and Assemble’s Granby Workshop.
In the graphics category, the simple-yet-striking album artwork for David Bowie’s swan song, Blackstar, is a shoe-in to be named when the winners in each discipline are announced early in the new year. The record features artwork by long-time collaborator Jonathan Barnbrook and was released just two days before Bowie’s death, last January.
Also a good bet for the winner’s list, the Adidas X Parley running shoe is among the nominees for best product. A collaboration between the athletic wear giant and environmental group Parley for the Oceans, the sneakers are made from 95 per cent ocean plastic and five per cent recycled polyester.
The Beazley Designs of the Year nominees will be on display until February 19. The top winners in each category will be announced on January 26, along with an overall winner.