From the bold contours of its hyperbolic paraboloid roof to its engaging programme of exhibitions, there’s always something inspiring and thought-provoking to discover at The Design Museum in Kensington. It won the 2018 European Museum of the Year Award, and continues to raise the bar with cutting-edge installations and shows that incorporate all areas of design, be it catwalk fashion, digital graphics or interiors. Our top five reasons to visit The Design Museum, moments from The Milestone Hotel & Residences, point to exactly what makes it so special.
1. The building
The Design Museum moved into Kensington’s former Commonwealth Institute in 2016. Prior to this, it was housed in a 1940s banana warehouse in east London’s Shad Thames. However, the museum, which was founded by legendary designer Sir Terence Conran in 1989, needed more space. The resulting mammoth relocation and £83m makeover means it now spans 10,000m2. It features three large exhibition spaces, a spectacular library, an archive, a chic rooftop café and bar, learning rooms and a designers-in-residence studio.
2. Designer Maker User
One of The Design Museum’s permanent exhibitions, Designer Maker User is a wall dedicated to almost 1,000 design pieces plucked from the fields of technology, fashion and graphics. Explore a nostalgic cornucopia of first-generation mobile phones, denim jeans, washing-up gloves and more. The crowdsourced display’s huge range of random items have been voted in by the public. London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s contribution? London Underground’s signature roundel.
3. Stimulating shows
Expect to be challenged and inspired – The Design Museum continually raises relevant questions and addresses topical issues. Its rotation of exhibitions includes the likes of British architect and urbanist Peter Barber, who shines a jarring spotlight on London’s housing crisis. The Home Futures exhibition, meanwhile, looks at avant-garde takes on what houses might one day resemble. A visit here is an opportunity to consider and engage with local and international issues. It’s not all contemporary in the temporary exhibitions, though – catch a glimpse of original furniture from the Smithsons’ 1956 House of the Future.
4. Talks, courses and workshops
A constantly evolving programme of inspiring activities, guest speakers and events makes a visit to The Design Museum a highly rewarding experience. Discussions addressing a rich range of topics, from electronic waste to the importance of magazine covers rub shoulders with interactive workshops that encourage participants to try their hand at sketching, or creating homewares from Mexican corn husks.
5. The café
Pause for a refreshment at The Design Museum’s airy top-floor café. Seasonal cakes, scones and pastries are served alongside more substantial options. Enjoy a snack while gazing out across leafy Holland Park, with impressive glimpses of the museum’s curvaceous roof. There are also two on-site souvenir shops selling a tasteful curation of lifestyle products, books and homewares.
The Design Museum in Kensington is a few minutes’ walk from Red Carnation Hotels’ The Milestone Hotel & Residences.