The Design Museum has undergone a pretty impressive transformation lately – it’s moved venue. Originally based in Shad Thames near London Bridge, it recently took over the old Commonwealth building on High Street Kensington, opening only a few months ago.
The building itself is pretty impressive. Located on a busy high street, it has an appealing modern entrance and is hugely striking inside. Photographs on the mezzanine illustrate the progress of the transformation. Like many museums in London, the Design Museum is made up of a mixture of free permanent exhibitions and temporary paid exhibitions, with something to suit every taste; there’s a café, restaurant and gift shop too.
The major free exhibition is called Designer Maker User, and it looks at examples of good design throughout modern history, from furniture to games consoles to road signs. The Tube map makes an appearance, not to mention typewriters and computers.
The second free exhibition I saw was Cartier in Motion, which looked at the history of Cartier. Sponsored by the brand, it is in many ways a commercial exhibition, but it was informative and interesting, even if it didn’t convince me that I need a Cartier watch.
The two temporary exhibitions currently are Imagine Moscow, in the basement, and California: Designing Freedom, on the ground floor. I visited one and not the other; it’s handy to be able to choose what you want to see. There’s a rolling programme of paid temporary exhibitions, reason to go back again and again.
The Design Museum is definitely a worthwhile place to visit, should you be interested in this kind of thing. The free exhibition is wide-ranging enough to attract attention and the range of temporary exhibitions is certainly promising.
Address: 224-238 Kensington High Street, London, W8 6AG
Opening Hours: 10am-6pm daily