London’s relocated Design Museum to open in November

By moving to Kensington, the museum triples its exhibition space - find out the exciting plans to fill it.

The Design Museum is set to join other much-loved national museums in Kensington on the 24 November, in a £83 million move that will triple its floor space.

Along with a large temporary exhibition space, library, learning centre, and capacity increase from 250,000 to 650,000, the new 9,480 square metre museum will - for the first time - have a free permanent gallery, Designer Maker User.

Celebrated architect John Pawson is converting the interior of the Grade II listed, former Commonwealth Institute building, in what the museum’s chief curator, Justin McGuirk, refers to as “a fantastic change – to recreate a building that is already a landmark… We’ve got an icon already. We’re now bringing it back to life.”

In matching with its central London location and larger capacity, the museum also hopes to become more pivotal in shaping how the public feels about design, aiming to do what the Tate Modern did for contemporary art: push the practice from the fringes of society, and into the mainstream. 

McGuirk thinks the museum a “laboratory”, not just somewhere to show “objects on pedestals and in glass cases.” Fitting with this sentiment is the new Designers in Residence Studio where the newly-trained can benefit from continued mentoring, challenges and exposure – and visitors can see the design process for themselves.

Image: render of new museum's top floor

All images credit of the Design Museum. 

We want to be a “platform for seeing how things are changing and possibly how we shape that change,” said Dejan Sudjic, director of the museum – and hosting the ninth edition of the unfailingly exciting, broad and boundary-pushing Designs of the Year award is not a bad start towards the goal of shaping design, not just observing it.

As part of the Design Maker User exhibition, the museum is inviting the public to suggest the most important objects to them, which the museum will display on a crowdsourced wall to “invite our audience to tell us what they think is good design.”

Image: render of new museum's ground floor (top); render of new museum's top floor (bottom) 

Dejan Sudjic hopes the move, and it all it brings, will place the Design Museum as – if not the best; “even I’m not arrogant enough to say that” – certainly the “most inspiring, exciting and engaging contemporary design and architecture museum in the world”.

30 June sees the Design Museum’s last day at Shad Thames. But it’s closing with a bang with Weekend Punk, a two-day celebration of the influence and legacy of punk design as part of the Punk London festival.

Image: new building photographed by Luke Hayes 

Advertisement. Article continues below

Image: Vespa Clubman designed by Corradino d'Ascanio and made by Piaggio 

Image: Esttore Sottsass and Perry King's Valentine typewriter for Olivetti (top); Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert's British road signs (bottom) 

Imaeg: GRiD 'Compass', the first laptop computer by Bill Moggridge

Advertisement. Article continues below

Image: Mikhail Kalashnikov's AK47 assault rifle