The Design Museum’s new building is the result of an £83 million transformation of the 1960s Grade II* listed former Commonwealth Institute building. It offers 10,000sqm of space and has set a visitor target of 650,000 each year. Designer John Pawson is remodelling the interior that will increase the museum’s size threefold from its current home in Bermondsey, enabling a significantly extended learning programme and a greater range of exhibitions.

For the first time in the museum’s history it will have a free permanent display of its collection: Designer Maker User, which tells the story of contemporary design through these three interconnected roles. Studio Myerscough is designing the Designer Maker User permanent display and the museum’s visual identity has been enhanced by Fernando Gutiérrez Studio. Cartlidge Levene are creating the wayfinding and signage system and the museum’s recently relaunched website was created with Fabrique, in a year which also saw the Design Museum become the most followed museum in the world on Twitter.

As part of the new museum there will be a wall installation at the entrance to the gallery that will feature some of the world’s most popular affordable consumer goods, crowdsourced from the public via the museum’s website with a call for suggestions being launched today.

Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum said the museum would include a challenging programme that would encourage new work and new thinking, and the touring, digital and publications programme would take its message around the world.

Art Fund – Going Places – Oct 2023

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 nurture new generations of designers and continue its history of recognising and supporting emerging design talent.

Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum

The museum’s opening exhibitions will include the first exhibition from the museum’s Chief Curator, Justin McGuirk – Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World. 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 show will also return for its ninth outing.

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; Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert’s British road signs; the Sony TPS L2 Walkman designed by Nobutoshi Kihara; the Obama ‘Progress’ poster by Shepard Fairey; the GRiD ‘Compass’ the first laptop computer by Bill Moggridge; Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK47 assault rifle and Ossie Clarke and Celia Birtwell’s Paper dress.

The Design Museum has also announced significant partnerships with Vitra, whose furniture will be used throughout the museum’s public spaces and office areas; and with Phaidon, who will publish books to accompany the museum’s major exhibitions, as well as a new guide and history of the Design Museum.

The Design Museum’s new building will include the Swarovski Foundation Centre for Learning, Bakala Auditorium, Sackler Library and Archive and a Designers in Residence Studio, which will open with a showcase of the work of the 2016 Designers in Residence, who are due to be announced this spring. There will also be a café, restaurant, and members’ room. Wilmott Dixon Interiors were awarded the fit out contract for the building in June 2015. Concord have worked with the museum to design the building’s lighting scheme and highlight its architectural features.

The Design Museum’s current site in Bermondsey will close to the public on 30 June. Its final event will be Weekend Punk, a two-day celebration of the influence and legacy of punk design, which is part of the year-long Punk London festival.

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Funding the Design Museum

The developer of the site, a joint venture between Chelsfield LLP and the Ilchester Estate, has donated the building and land together with the cost of refurbishing the shell and core of the building.

The Heritage Lottery Fund have supported the project with a grant of £4.9m and ACE have supported the project with a capital grant of £3m.

A philanthropic auction, entitled Time for Design curated by the Design Museum’s Director, Deyan Sudjic, will take place on 28 April and the museum is continuing to fundraise to complete the Kensington project and secure its future.

Main Image: The completed Design Museum, which will open in November. This photograph and that of director Deyan Sudjic were taken by Luke Hayes