Design Museum opens permanent collection ahead of move to Kensington

By Culture24 Reporter | 30 January 2013
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Jasper Morrison's Handlebar Table, 1960s plastic furniture and the dynamism of British Modernist design all feature prominently in the swish permanent collection at London's Design Museum, opening today in a move planners see as a milestone step ahead of a move to a huge new home in Kensington.

A photo of a woman looking at chairs, vacuums and various other design museum objects
© Max Colson
The display is destined for the upper floor of the development, where 20th century products will line the corridors, using everyday objects as conduits for an extravagance of surprising stories behind design ingenuity across the decades.

Phone boxes, postboxes, road signs and the London 2012 logo could be considered part of Britain’s national identity, such is their familiarity. Marcel Breuer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Erno Goldfinger – whose name is thought to have inspired Ian Fleming’s Bond villain after the author fell out with the designer – are the names behind some of the exhibits.

A section remembers the invention of George Carwardine, who came up with the much-copied Anglepose lamp in 1932. Fashion collector Jill Ratblat contributes six glitzy outfits from the 1970s to the 1990s, taken from a high-society wardrobe of more than 400 items.

Ten Design Museum facts:

  • Stephen Bayley and Terence Conran originally staged the Boilerhouse Project in the basement of the V&A, predating the move to Shad Thames in 1989. It was conceived as a pioneering pop-up museum documenting modern design.

  • The Collection includes more than 290 chairs, 24 televisions and one nappy.

  • It will be a permanent, free-to-enter exhibition when it opens in High Street Kensington in 2015.

  • It has more than 3,000 objects including furniture, lighting, domestic appliances and communications technology.

  • It is held in two locations: one close to the museum, for smaller objects, and a larger warehouse for object such as the red telephone box.

  • The biggest item is a bus shelter, designed for Adshell by acclaimed industrial designer Kenneth Grange.

  • It recently acquired an AK-47 firearm, first developed in the USSR by Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1947.

  • Robin Day’s 1963 Polyprop chair is the prototype for 14 million sales, continuing to fly out at a rate of 500,000 units a year.

  • Future acquisitions include a Russian cosmonaut spacesuit.

  • The oldest piece in the collection is the Thonet No.14 chair, designed by Gebrüder Thonet in 1859

More pictures:


A photo of a modern gallery with a board saying extraordinary stories about ordinary things
© Luke Hayes
A photo of a woman taking a photo on her phone on a white female fashion jacket
© Max Colson
A photo of a retro dark orange and grey television next to multicoloured toothbrushes
© Max Colson
A photo of various Apple-branded products including a computer and adverts
© Max Colson
A photo of two retro irons, one light blue, one yellow, both with black handles
© Luke Hayes
A close-up photo of a cream, floral-patterned dress on a white female mannequin
© Max Colson
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