With London’s increasing commercial importance as a sales hub for 20th and 21st century design, it is good for professionals as well as the public to have a major study collection of design classics that is housed in an architecturally significant building.
Early Modernism to Contemporary design
Alongside temporary exhibitions, the Design Museum has a permanent collection of more than 3000 objects that range from the early Modernism of the 1900s to contemporary design.
The latest redevelopment of the listed building has been completed by architect firms OMA, Allies and Morrison and Arup who have restored its roof and distinctive façade. The inside of the building has been redesigned, including this new “theatrical” atrium, by John Pawson.
The new home for the museum, which was founded in 1989 by Sir Terence Conran, is three times the size of its previous riverside home in Shad Thames and brings it close to the Kensington museums area of the V&A, Science and Natural History museums.
Importance of design
The museum hopes to attract 650,000 visitors in its first year. Conran said: “It really does feel like our moment has arrived and that the importance of design to our lives is now truly appreciated… I hope we can now educate, inspire and delight future generations for years to come.”
Art and antiques trade links
The Kensington building had a previous connection with the art and antiques trade. In the early years of this century the Commonwealth Institute was briefly the venue for the LAPADA Antiques fair now at Berkeley Square. But the sites links to exhibitions stretches back to when the Imperial Institute first opened in 1888 when it hosted exhibitions about the Empire. The premises were demolished and this new building, designed by Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall & Partners, opened in 1962.