Design Museum

Museums, Art and design Kensington
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(13user 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.


Venue name: Design Museum
Address: 224-238
Kensington High St
W8 6AG
Transport: Tube: High St Kensington
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  • Exhibitions Until Sunday April 23 2017
  • Exhibitions Tuesday March 14 2017 - Sunday June 4 2017
  • Exhibitions Wednesday May 24 2017 - Sunday October 15 2017
  • Exhibitions Wednesday June 28 2017 - Sunday September 24 2017

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:8
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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Lise M

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

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

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

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.


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

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.


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

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


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

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.