Design Museum

Museums, Art and design Kensington
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(25user reviews)
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Design Museum
Luke Hayes
Design Museum

After a few setbacks and much anticipation, the Design Museum finally re-opened in its new premises last year – and boy, is it looking flash these days. Now located in the Grade II-listed former Commonwealth Institute building on Kensington High Street, it now boasts three times the space and has an archive, library, two shops and a permanent collection.

Posted:

Venue name: Design Museum
Contact:
Address: 224-238
Kensington High St
London
W8 6AG
Transport: Tube: High St Kensington
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  • Exhibitions Until Sunday October 15 2017
  • Exhibitions Until Friday July 28 2017 Free
  • Exhibitions Until Sunday June 4 2017
  • Exhibitions Wednesday June 28 2017 - Sunday September 24 2017

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:7
  • 4 star:11
  • 3 star:7
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|25
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jeaniekarl
Tastemaker

Formerly home to the Commonwealth Institute this 1960s grade II listed building with angular roof and quirky exterior design makes this ideal for the new home to the of the design museum that relocated to Kensington from its original home in Shad Thames. It’s certainly smaller than the other well known museums. However there are some interesting exhibits and displays all centred around old to modern design from the old typewriters and walkman that we used to use to the new computers and mp3 players we use in the present day, quite similar to some of the displays at the science museum though. There are some interesting modern innovative concepts shown here from everyday London transport maps to road signage as well. Central seating helps create a more welcoming atmosphere, the roof design is impressive and there are function rooms for students. Worth seeing not overwhelming but handy if you’re after something a bit different in the Kensington area. 


Natasha Tooray
Tastemaker

The buildings architecture alone was absolutely stunning, which made the south London trip worthwhile. Located in South Kensington, the museum stands close to Holland park, which is perfect for a day out. Most of the levels are free to access, with a few exhibitions being paid.


Wonderful structure, with sensational work.

Diana T
Tastemaker

Having been to the new Design Museum to see the space and the exhibitions I was both impressed and disappointed. The architecture is incredible, especially how the key staircase commands your attention. 


However the actual exhibition space is quite anti climactic designed with an ordinary exhibition style layout. 


Considering how amazing the director of the design museum is (read his book the Language of Cities it's incredible) its a shame that the space isn't any more engaging. 


Also the shop is a bit drab considering all the cool design stuff you can find around the city, its a bit of a let down. 

jutney
Tastemaker

Very beautiful building, with good space for exhibitions: not enormous that makes you tired, but not so small (well, for the price of the exhibitions, maybe a little small). The space for the permanent exhibition is bigger and it has very interesting content; although it seems definitely more concerned with ‘beginners’, there is no depth to the texts. It’s a pity because, again, they do have very interesting objects/case studies. 

And it’s always surprising for me that a place dedicated to design has basic exhibition-design mistakes, like texts that are hard to read because of color, or position.
The building is quite impressive but I don’t think it makes much difference from the old building. And the shop seems smaller!

Toni S
Tastemaker

The recently opened/re-located Design Museum is in the beautiful former Commonwealth Institute building in Kensington. And it is the perfect space for exhibiting all things design related as the building itself is so beautiful.


You enter into a large extraordinary atrium space, lined with white walls and crisp clean lines. The exhibitions are on the top two floors of the building accessed from the flights of timber stairs/seating area that winds around in the atrium space - allowing you to get a glimpse of the building from every angle on your way up.


I thought the exhibitions were very interesting, showcasing the evolution of design. The day we went it was packed with visitors and made it difficult to navigate through the exhibition. The star of the show, for me, was the dramatic hyperbolic paraboloid roof structure, with the hidden sky lights letting in secret splashes of light. 


There is a restaurant at the top floor too, for some coffee or a quick bite. Be sure to stop in the shop on our way out, they have some cool design homeware and goodies. 

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Tracey S
tastemaker

I hadn't visited the previous design museum and to be honest I had never even heard of it. I decided to take my 12 year old as I thought it might be something he would like and on arrival I was quite blown away by the inside design of the building itself, its very minimalistic but quite stunning!

We did think there wasn't much to see but then realised that everything seems to be hidden around the back. I enjoyed reminiscing about the technology of yesteryear and there were loads of hands on activities aimed at children, they can even become young engineers and draw their own designs to be hung on the wall. All that looking around made us hungry but I found the restaurant really expensive, luckily as it is situated on the high street there are loads of places nearby to grab a bite to eat.

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Marco D
tastemaker

The newly built Design Museum is architecturally brilliant and beautifully executed. It has this undone, unfinished look to the interior of the museum with its wooden, textured feel.

It also displays interesting, silhouetted lines which is translated throughout the whole museum.

The minimal oak and marble used is precisely cut to create the interior design and give the illusion of a museum that is new, still to be refurbished and still in the works.

It's deeply interesting and the triangular, curved piece that you'll find embracing the centre of the museum looks astounding in person.

The designers behind the museum really have created a grand establishment with such an extraordinary design aesthetic.

The lines that interlink and the curved roof really stand out in the Kensington area. Let's not forget that it's right next to Holland Park, a park that I love visiting. I'm sure it's loved by all Londoners out there.

It has many fantastic features in the museum. You'll find exhibition spaces, an auditorium and the museum's library which is located on the first floor. I also found an education space which is sponsored by the Swarovski Foundation. Not sure how much access we have with this, but it sounds incredible to have the chance to visit these rooms.

The top floor of the museum is where you'll find the permanent displayed collection. This floor also has a restaurant with stunning views of Holland Park.

Don't forget the museum gift shop with all its architectural design goodies by the entrance of the museum.

It's modern, contemporary and displays artwork completely out of this world. You'll find pieces of technology, architecture, 3D designs, fashion, accessories, household objects on display.

There is a space with wearable garments made out of 100% real human hair. This is not a joke, I know it's quite shocking, but it's true.

It's quite fascinating actually to see this being accomplished. How is this possible? You have to visit the Design Museum.

Completely wearable hoodies made with human hair, now that's incredible for sure.

There is a 3D printing machine that prints 3D objects in the most detailed, colourful ways possible. Quite exciting to see all this being created. To see and feel how technology has advanced in a way that we can't imagine is incredible.

All of the most memorable, vintage computers and mobiles ever released to the newest versions of computers, iPods and so on are on display in the Design Museum.

All in all it's a museum with a grand space worth visiting. Bring your family, your friends and I'm sure you'll have a great time.

You have free exhibits to see, nature to appreciate and a luxurious restaurant/cafe to indulge yourselves in.

#TOTastemaker

Love MD.

ML Kupfer
tastemaker

I went here recently to see the Fear & Love exhibit and I really liked it because it was interesting, it was easy to understand and engage with as an uninformed visitor (e.g. with not much knowledge of design), and it featured a degree of social commentary that encouraged me to think and challenge my own notions.


This exhibit consisted of various installations and there was clear information available that explained to the visitor what the aim of the installation was, which I found very helpful. There was a robot for example, that had a sensor which enabled it to follow you as you moved around the room. As the robot moved with you, you felt like you had built a rapport with it and shared a connection, which of course you had not really, but it shows how fast we can be to attempt to humanize our interactions with everyday machines. 


Another part of this exhibit I really enjoyed was a series of short films made about the app Grindr, which told the story of how it began, how it grew, how it amassed a massive following within the gay community, and how it is used today. Visually it was presented in a format that forced you to keep up with two screens at the same time and made you struggle to focus on just one, much like the app layout where you have all these pictures of different men facing you at once. The stories told about the app were much more significant though. For instance, I learned that Grindr is used by refugees to connect with other gay men, which can provide support networks for gay refugees, who are often marginalized within an already-marginalized community.


I wasn't able to see the free exhibit unfortunately but the museum is a very impressive space and the gift shop has very cool stuff (although expensive). There's enough supermarkets and places in the area to drink coffee and grab something to eat so skip the museum café if you can.  



nicknickn
Tastemaker

The Design Museum has a lovely new building on Kensington High Street. The setting is lovely, right on the edge of Holland Park. The building itself is, as you would expect, beautifully designed. The interior is bright and spacious, filled with indirect light, the curves of the roof are attractive, the stairs and levels of the building are cleverly arranged to describe a pleasing combination of form and function, the atrium widening as it rises, with built in seating among the stairs on the lower levels and along the wall further up.

I like the way, that even now, when it is open and in use, it still has the look and feel of the architect design drawings that put on show at the conception. It will be very interesting to see how the building ages, I have great hopes that the clean lines of the wood and glass hold the elegance that it has now.

The free exhibition on the third floor is good too, larger and more interactive than it was in the old museum. It is still packed with examples of outstanding design, but now it has the design development of many common household items on display, for example clocks, phones and headphones from their earliest designs to current iterations.

The new Design Museum with regard to its building, setting and free exhibits has to be regarded as a complete success.



Lynsey F

This museum is gorgeous in its structure and I love the way it looks inside and out but in terms of exhibition space it doesn't feel any more spacious than its previous home. Most of the space is just there for show. It has no other real value as its essentially a huge impressive atrium with exhibitions space below it and off to the sides. Although I like it there's a small part of me that misses the old Design Museum base too.

The exhibition on the top floor is free and does contain some interesting features. It's basically showing off the many designs that have changed our world.

The 2 current pay to see exhibitions are 'Imagine Moscow' and 'Fear & Love'.

I was a little disappointed in the Imagine Moscow exhibition. Many museums and galleries are doing Russian based exhibits right now due to it being 100 years since the revolution and Id say the other exhibitions were done better than this one. This exhibition features designs that were never realised in Moscow and are interesting but I felt it could have been done a lot better.

The Fear and Love museum was definitely my preferred exhibition at this museum. To be honest I'm a bit of a child and the neon sign welcoming you in had me excited immediately. The interactive movement sensitive robot had my partner gripped (hours of fun!) and there was a lot of interesting content to invest in. Other than the curious robot my favourite parts of this exhibition were the fabric exhibit and the section that showed how Grindr had helped refugees from Syria. Really interesting stuff

Tara P
Tastemaker

The Design Museum, recently relocated to Holland Park, does an excellent job of making design both entertaining and accessible. The building is an artwork in itself, and it's wonderful that you can walk into such an interesting and impressive structure for free. 


There's plenty to look at in the permanent exhibits, but we went specifically to see 'The New Old' - a pop up exhibition on designing products and services for a rapidly ageing population.


A work field trip, it was fascinating for us (adults, in the product design industry) but it was great to see groups of half term schoolchildren so enthused by the items on offer too. It was a brilliant mix of seriousness and whimsy, with plenty of interactivity and information packed into a small space. A great idea was the presence of a volunteer, there to chat, answer questions, and give a personal insight into the life of an older person in London today. 


The Design Museum offers a great all-round experience, and to cap it off there's plenty to tempt you in the gift shop. 

Lise M
tastemaker

Recently visited the new Design Museum in High Street Kensington. The architecture is absolutely stunning. The renovation work made by John Pawson and OMA offers a 2nd life to this old grey 1960's Commomwealth Institute building. The structure and the flooring have been completely re-work to create an impressive atrium and spacious exhibition areas crowned by copper-covered roof. I only visited the permanent exhibition 'Designer, Maker, User' which explain the development of modern design from graphism, transports, fashion and products we daily use. It was very interesting but quite similar to exhibitions we can find in the Science Museum - and particularly concentrated making quite difficult to follow when the museum is too crowded. I would recommend to plan your visit during the week as it's very popular during the weekend.  Definitely a must-go for architecture lovers! 

Sarah G
Tastemaker

I had a lovely day of cultural, touristy London leisure day on Monday. Part of that was a trip to the new London Design museum.


It's very different to the old building and is very much in keeping with many modern, european museums. We had a snack and a drink in the ground floor cafe. It is really expensive - £6 for a smoothie £2.50 for half a small pork pie etc. The food was nice and I know museums make a lot of money from cafes - but it was too expensive.


The museum itself has a small permanent collection and at the moment a really great exhibition on age and technology. I'm not sure how long it is on for but it is really worth a visit and I want to go back. It examines all aspects of life from food, to sex to socialising and how technology might 'help' or develop in these areas.



Izzy K
Tastemaker

I used to like the old Design Museum, but I love the new building, to say the least. Although unimpressive from the outside (the building is not new, it’s in the former Commonwealth Institute), inside it’s fantastic. It’s very spacious, minimalistic, with plenty areas to sit and contemplate the architecture.

The good thing is that finally the museum has a free section with the permanent collection. The bad thing is, it’s packed quite densely, so it’s hard to enjoy the exhibition at places. Also, you will see a lot of things you've seen in the Science or Transport museums.

There’s a café, a shop (not as big as the one in the former museum, but still full of great stuff), restaurant and a lounge overlooking Holland Park. I’ve visited on weekend and it was absolutely packed, not sure week days are any better.


Kateryna V
Tastemaker

I liked the new Design Museum very much. The building is beautiful. It's spacious and modern with plenty of natural light and the light wooden panelling that makes the space feel cosy and welcoming (all too often modern museums err on the side of coldness and sterility that in me trigger something like a fight or flight response). At the time of my visit (Sunday afternoon) the museum was heaving with visitors who were content to just hang out in this beautiful space, lounging on the wooden steps that double up as benches. There's enough space to support two temporary exhibitions (we visited the excellent Beazeley Designs of the Year display on the basement floor, paying homage to the best in design from immersive VR experiences and 3D printing to late David Bowie's Blackstar). Upstairs is the permanent display, featuring both design classics (was happy to see both Stan Smiths and Havaianas featured!) and curios (a jacket made of human hair, anyone? Just yack!). There's a library, a museum shop, a restaurant with panoramic views and a members lounge (very intrigued by it, as I saw a bottle of Veuve Clicquot chilling in an ice bucket). All in all, a great addition to London's museum scene. I can see myself returning time and again.

Hong-Anh
Tastemaker

The new home of he Design Museum in South Kensington really gives the curators space to breathe and expand with what must be a considerable collection that is tucked away. Housed in the former Brutalist surroundings of the Commonwealth Institute, the new museum functions as a beautifully designed space (you'd expect nothing less) with a permanent, free-to-view exhibition about the function of great design. 

Kritt N
Tastemaker

The is a very, very impressive museum and a massive upgrade from the modest premise the Design Museum once occupied in Shad Thames.


Only a few minutes stroll away High Street Kensington tube station, The Design Museum is modern and spacious with four floors to explore. In addition to the permanent (and free) exhibits on the second floor, the museum has a ground floor cafe area, a souvenir shop, a restaurant on the first floor and further space which houses the ticketed temporary exhibitions.


The free exhibits on showis not impressive by way of sheer scale, or intricacy of design like many exhibitions you’ve seen before. However, it is an immense collection of iconic items and designs from over the years. From early editions of the London tube map to the Playstation 1, they are all here. There's even the Nokia 3310! Who remember when that was a top of the range phone? So many objects that not only reminds you of how design and tech has advanced but the memory of you once playing with some of the exhibits. Surreal that your childhood toys should be exhibited in a museum.


It’s not all about the exhibits of course. It’s hugely insightful and gives a glimpse into the minds of designers. You gain a great appreciation of design and how our taste and consumer preferences shape design. There’s also little interactive screens dotted around your journey to help you learn more. You even get to explore the in-house designer currently working at the Design Museum and their designs in shaping our world.


A vastly improved space with fascinating exhibits in a modern building, the Design Museum in Kensington is a beautiful museum well worth visiting as an individual or with like-minded friends. It's a designers dream gallery.

Naomi
Tastemaker

As a design student and lover of all things beautiful, the long-awaited reopening of the Design Museum was something I was dead keen for, however I found myself a little disappointed. The prices are steep and the collection didn't seem much expanded from its old shad thames home, that being said, the architecture itself is absolutely stunning and there's a long list of other kensington attractions you can see to really make a day of it. 

Lisa Peake
Tastemaker

I love bikes. There, I’ve said it. Walking into a bike shop for me is much more exciting that one selling clothes and I’m guaranteed to buy something I don’t really need but is absolutely ESSENTIAL (in my mind). So when the Design Museum had a bike exhibition I was there with bike bells on.


To the untrained or uninterested eye it was a smallish affair with a bunch of bikes mounted on plain backgrounds. For the slightly obsessed, however, it was an Aladdin’s cave of history, design technology and pure art. I was as close to slobbering in public as is socially acceptable as we worked up from Penny Farthings to the steed of Wiggo and future projections. I was in awe.


As to the museum itself it was slightly chaotic, full of Saturday-excited kids gluing, cutting and decorating anti-war badges whilst their parents watched on, glad their little darlings were occupied and supervised. No one even checked our tickets as we walked up the stairs and waltzed in. Not sure that’ll happen in the new premises. The old ones had a great location with crystal clear views out over the river. I literally can’t wait for it to re-open with even more space to indulge my inner obsessions.


Tip: Wait until they’re showing something you’re passionate about and don’t slobber too much in public

Anaelle
Tastemaker

I love this museum! This place has the best exhibitions. Exploring the world of design, themes are thought-provoking and always fit for the times. From architecture to jewellery, from everyday objects to fashion, there’s nothing they won’t question. Very interesting.


However, the price is quite steep. As the museum only has a few floors, the £10 entrance fee might seem a bit much. The actual building has a cool shop – focused a great design of course – and a good restaurant on the first floor with nice views over Tower Bridge. Stay tuned though, this will change when they move to their new building in South Ken.

Kirsty E
Tastemaker

Strange little place.. Not an awful lot to see in the museum itself but the restaurant on the top floor is not bad and it has some spectacular views of Tower Bridge. Visit in the early evening when London is lit up ,before it gets too busy. Food is nothing special and a little expensive, and the staff are a bit cold and not very welcoming.. To be honest there are better places to visit for views of London.

Victoria B

Lovely building and location to visit! It is a little expensive though in terms of the size of the exhibition. The shop is a highlight!

Andy Smith

Just two floors of this building are for exhibitions. When we visited one floor was given over to contemporary jewelry, which was mostly pretentious or pornographic. The other exhibition was exactly what you would expect from a Design Museum. It showcased and explained brilliant design extremely well, it left us hungry for more - but there was no more. The little coffee area, the shop and the location are great, it's just a shame there wasn't more museum.