The Mini motor car. The red telephone box. The London Underground map. And, of course, the extraordinary bridges and engineering feats of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. From the dawn of the Industrial Revolution right through to the dawn of the 21st Century, Britain has been at the forefront of the best of global design – and many visitors to the UK come to marvel at its greatest and most iconic design works (those already mentioned and so many more).
A big pull for London tourists delighted by design has always been The Design Museum, currently located near Tower Bridge in the heart of the city. Quite simply, it’s the world’s leading haven for contemporary design and architecture, a creative centre showcasing Britain’s plethora of design skills that’s always working to promote innovation and nurture the next generation of design talent.
For those interested in visiting London and paying a trip to The Design Museum this year, however, there’s some important news – for the museum will close for a short time on 20 June in order to move from its present site, which it’s occupied since 1989, to its new site – the former Commonwealth Institute building in Kensington, where it will reopen later in the year.
And don’t doubt it; this is good news. Because, thanks to this new London Design Museum opening, it will be three times as large as it currently is, fitted out with better learning facilities and positioned slap-bag in the centre of Kensington’s cultural quarter, alongside the Science Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), the Natural History Museum, the Serpentine Gallery and the Royal College of Art. All of which means, the new museum will make for an outstanding day out, should you be staying in one of the top London Piccadilly hotels.
A landmark building dating from the 1960s, the museum’s home-to-be is also a Grade II*-listed building and being transformed into the10,000m², 21st Century exhibition space by a team led by acclaimed architect John Pawson.
According to the founder and Trustee of the museum, the legendary Sir Terence Conran, moving the museum to the new site is ‘the most important moment of [his] long career in design so far’. He says: “It will allow all our dreams and ambitions for the museum to come true, to create a world-class space with the size and scope for the serious promotion and celebration of design and architecture in this country”.
It’s estimated that in its first year, the new museum will experience more than 500,000 visitors and 50,000 people will take advantage of its learning facilities. It will be fitted out with a permanent collection display, two temporary exhibition spaces, a designers-in-residence studio, a 192-seat auditorium, two shops, a cafe and a restaurant.