The Design Museum | Kensington Museum
They won’t all be your type.
But if you’re into design – or just enjoy looking at beautiful things – London’s Design Museum most probably will be.
It was specifically forged with the aim of inspiring people to think and feel more passionately about design, and to shine a light on the designer’s role at the forefront of social, technological and environmental change.
Initially it was housed in a smaller building in Shad Thames, but in 2008 it moved to a Grade II listed, 1960s-style sweeping beauty in Kensington (pictured above) that’s really worth a visit in and of itself. It also offers three times the space, allowing for the Design Museum’s first permanent exhibition, as well as more temporary shows.
Entry to the permanent exhibition is free, offering up nearly 1,000 items of 20th and 21st century design, hoping to highlight the role of the designer, the maker, and the user. Temporary collections however are usually ticketed, exploring everything from fashion, architecture, and furniture design, to graphic design; product design; transport; and digital design.
Currently, you’ll find the Beazley Designs of the Year winners taking centre stage, showcasing award-winning, innovative designs across the worlds of fashion, architecture, product design and more. And coming up is Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers, a sprawling immersive exhibition dedicated to electronic music and the surrounding culture, featuring light shows, VR music studios and over 400 objects.
As well as exhibitions, London Design Museum also programme a number of pretty cool talks with a range of working designers, as well as classes on making everything from tiles to candles and textiles. And on Friday nights they have Friday Night Sketch, where a professional designer or illustrator sets a sketching task based on something currently in one of the exhibitions, then attendees are welcome to explore the museum and sketch anything they find inspiring, before sharing their work at the end.
In case you get peckish, there’s a cafe, as well as a top floor restaurant – the Design Museum Kitchen – which serves brunch and lunch, all week long. They have teas, coffees, fresh cakes, and scones with jam and cream, as well as a seasonal menu of hot, savoury dishes, all of which you can enjoy whilst looking out over a penthouse view of Hyde Park.
NOTE: Design Museum is open every day (excluding Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day) from 10am-6pm (last entry 5pm). It’s also open late on the first Friday of every month, until 8pm. It’s free to enter, although the temporary exhibitions are ticketed. You can find out more information, or book tickets, on their website here.
Big museum fan? Take a look at our Best Museums In London guide.