January 25, 2013

Extraordinary Stories about Ordinary Things

Design Museum is opening its permanent collection on January 30th, offering a diverse investigation into the impact of design on our everyday lives. The exhibition presents six key stories through hundreds of items - National Identity, Plastics, Modernism, Iconic Design, A Designer in the Spotlight and Fashion Through The Decades.

Apple iMac designed by Jonathan Ive (1998-9).

“Design matters at every level. It is what makes daily life a little better; it is about the big economic changes that the world is going through. It is about the designers and the manufacturers, but it is also about the users. It is a unique way of making sense of the world around us.” – highlights Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum.

National identity

This subject is explored through objects that define a nation such as the phone box, road signage, the post box, the London 2012 logo and the Euro.

English Currency. Design: Matthew Dent.

Road Sign designed by Jock Kinneir & Margaret Calvert (1964).

K6 Kiosk designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.

Iconic design

Another section will profile a single iconic design – the Anglepoise lamp – telling how an experiment by a car engineer with an obsession with springs resulted in an invention that was to become one of the most copied, parodied and collected in the history of design.

Anglepoise lamp designed by Sir Kenneth Grange.

Sella stool designed by Achille and Pier Castiglioni (1957).

Milward Courier Shaver designed by Sir Kenneth Grange.

Typewriter Valentine designed by Ettore Sottsass for Olivetti.

Jim Nature Portable Television designed by Philippe Starck (1994).

Vase designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec (2001).


The dominance of plastic in our lives is examined with examples of luxury through to everyday plastics from the last 75 years, from small household items to the first examples of plastic furniture in the 1960s.

LAR armchair designed by Charles Eames (1948).

Universale stacking chair designed by Joe Colombo (1968).

G-Force Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaner designed by James Dyson (1986).


A section on Modernism provides a snapshot of a remarkable and dynamic period of design in Britain, shown through iconic pieces of furniture, products, textiles and architecture. The section will feature works by Marcel Breuer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Erno Goldfinger, whose name Ian Fleming spitefully immortalised as a Bond villain because of personal antagonism.

Cesca armchair model B32 designed by Marcel Breuer.

Low Table designed by Marcel Breuer (1936).

fashion Through The Decades

A display of fashion from the 1970s to the 1990s will throw a spotlight on six occasion outfits from a personal wardrobe of over 400 items belonging to fashion collector Jill Ritblat. The outfits chart the shift of style through a life in society, and champion the exquisite balance of form and function in the pieces themselves.

The photo is coming from the movie DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL - Directed by Lisa Immordino. With 350 illustrations, including many famous photographs by Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and other major fashion photographers, this film shows fashion as it was being invented. Copyright Mark Riboud. Magnum Photos.

The exhibition „Extraordinary Stories about Ordinary Things“ stays open until 04 January 2015, and it marks an essential milestone in the journey towards the future of the Design Museum at its new home in Kensington, where the entire top floor will display the museum’s collection of twentieth-century design.

— Image Courtesy: Design Museum.

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