The opening exhibition at the museum’s brand new site on Kensington High Street explores how hopes and anxieties around current social issues heavily shape notions of design
It may have landed two years later than expected but the Design Museum’s upgrade to its John Pawson-reworked home in Kensington’s former Commonwealth Institute is well worth the wait. Three times the amount of exhibition space has granted the installation of its first permanent collection as well as two temporary displays on the ground floor, while the upper levels accommodate an education centre, library, the annual Designers in Residence programme and a restaurant.
With 11 specially commissioned installations by leading international designers, the opening exhibition is an astute examination of how today’s social issues impact the industry. Overseen by incoming chief curator Justin McGuirk, each display tackles a separate issue, from unsettling advances in science and technology to widespread feelings of political and economic instability.
Brexit is at the forefront of the exhibition with the Pan-European Living Room by Dutch architectural firm OMA. Contemplating how the ideals of EU cooperation and the Single Market have informed interior design, it is made up of a piece of furniture from each member state and features a large screen with the colours of the 28 national flags united in a barcode design.
Entitled Intimate Strangers, Andrés Jaque’s audio-visual installation will provoke thought on how the increasing pursuit of relationships through online networks is influencing the way we perceive our identities and the world around us.
Meanwhile, important social issues in the architectural realm are touched upon by the recreation of a Columbian school by Arquitectura Expandida and the construction of a yurt, which has been adapted to suit the changing needs of Mongolian nomads, by Hong Kong-based firm Rural Urban Framework.