Design Museum
The Design Museum in Kensington
Design Museum is located in Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Design Museum
Location within Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Established1989; 35 years ago (1989)
Location224–238 Kensington High Street, London, W8 6AG
Coordinates51°30′00″N 0°12′01″W / 51.4998973°N 0.200244°W / 51.4998973; -0.200244
DirectorTim Marlow
Public transit access

The Design Museum in Kensington, London, England, exhibits product, industrial, graphic, fashion, and architectural design. In 2018, the museum won the European Museum of the Year Award.[1] The museum operates as a registered charity,[2] and all funds generated by ticket sales aid the museum in curating new exhibitions.


The museum was founded in 1989 by Sir Terence Conran, with Stephen Bayley as inaugural CEO, after the two men had collaboratively created the highly successful exhibition space known as The Boilerhouse at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).[3]

Shad Thames site

The old Shad Thames site of the Design Museum, in 2010

The museum was originally housed in a former 1940s banana warehouse on the south bank of the River Thames in the Shad Thames area of London.[4] The conversion of this warehouse altered it beyond recognition, to resemble a building in the International Modernist style of the 1930s.[5] This was funded by many companies, designers and benefactors. The museum was principally designed by the Conran group, with exhibitions over two floors, and a "Design Museum Tank" exhibition space out by the waterfront.[6] A large scale sculpture titled The Head of Invention by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi was installed in the area between the museum and the Thames.[7]

Kensington site

The Design Museum in Kensington

In June 2011, Sir Terence Conran donated £17.5 million to enable the museum to move in 2016 from the warehouse to a larger site which formerly housed the Commonwealth Institute in west London.[8] This landmark from the 1960s, a Grade II* listed building, designed by Robert Matthew/Sir Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners architects that had stood vacant for over a decade, was developed by a design team led by John Pawson.[9] Fit-out of the Design Museum's new home was carried out by Willmott Dixon Interiors.[10]

The Design Museum opened in its Kensington location on 24 November 2016.[11] The move gave the museum three times more space than in its previous location at Shad Thames, with the new Swarovski Foundation Centre for Learning, 202-seat Bakala Auditorium and a dedicated gallery to display its permanent collection, accessible free of charge.[12] The new building was the subject of a profile on the Sky Arts programme The Art of Architecture in 2019.[13]

The move brought the museum into Kensington's cultural quarter, joining the Royal College of Art, V&A, Science Museum, Natural History Museum and Serpentine Gallery.

Deyan Sudjic succeeded Alice Rawsthorn as director of the Design Museum in 2006.[14] In 2016, Alice Black was appointed co-director.[15] In 2019, Tim Marlow was appointed as director and chief executive.[16]


View across the top floor

The top-floor space under the museum roof houses a permanent display, Designer Maker User, with key objects from the museum's collection.[17] A restaurant, members' lounge, residency studio and an events and gallery space are also located on the top floor.

On the first floor, a design and architecture reference library is a resource for students, educators, researchers and designers. It also includes archive material relating to the history of the museum. The Swarovski Foundation Centre for Learning is a suite of learning facilities including a design studio, creative workshop, two seminar rooms and a common room. The Design Museum offices and main reception, a meeting room and a film studio are also located on the first floor.

On the ground floor, the largest gallery in the Design Museum showcases a programme of temporary exhibitions. Accessible from both Kensington High Street and Holland Park, the atrium acts as an events space. A main staircase from the atrium gives access to all floors and offers views to the first and second floors and the hyperbolic paraboloid roof.

A double-height space spanning the two lower levels, Gallery Two hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions dedicated to architecture, fashion, furniture, product and graphic design. The Bakala Auditorium seats 202 people and provide a purpose-designed space for a programme of talks, seminars, debates and public and private events throughout the year. The basement accommodates a collections store, exhibition preparation spaces and a locker area for visitors.

Award schemes

The Design Museum has an award scheme which Brit Insurance sponsored from 2003 until 2011.

Designer of the Year

Design of the Year

Designs produced over the previous 12 months worldwide are eligible. A number of design experts are invited to nominate up to five projects each, falling into the seven categories of architecture, transport, graphics, interactive, product, furniture and fashion. Since 2015, there have been six categories: architecture, fashion, graphics, digital, product and transport. Beazley became exhibition sponsor in 2016.[22]

See also


  1. ^ "EMYA 2018: The Winners". European Museum Forum. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Charity Details for Design Museum". Charity Commission. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Stephen Bayley". TEDxLiverpool. Archived from the original on 5 June 2020. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  4. ^ Frearson, Amy (9 July 2013). "Zaha Hadid buys London's Design Museum building". Dezeen. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  5. ^ "Design Museum, London, UK". World Construction Network. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  6. ^ Green, Jamie (23 June 2016). "Going West: Highlights of 27 years of the Design Museum at Shad Thames". It's Nice That. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  7. ^ "The Head of Invention". Art UK. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  8. ^ "Conran's £17.5m donation to new Design Museum". The Standard. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  9. ^ Mairs, Jessica (17 November 2016). "London's new Design Museum by John Pawson and OMA unveiled". Dezeen. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  10. ^ "Project of the week: London's Design Museum fit-out". Construction Management. 22 November 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  11. ^ Dowd, Vincent (24 November 2016). "Design Museum: A glossy new era and home". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  12. ^ "Design Museum". Sotheby's. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  13. ^ "The Art of Architecture – S1 – Episode 8". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 25 November 2020. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  14. ^ Fairs, Marcus (4 October 2019). "Deyan Sudjic and Alice Black to leave the Design Museum". Dezeen. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  15. ^ McLaughlin, Aimée (2 December 2016). "Design Museum appoints Alice Black as co-director". Design Week. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  16. ^ Roux, Caroline (28 October 2019). "'I won't be bringing in a load of artists': Tim Marlow on leading the Design Museum". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  17. ^ "Designer Maker User". Morag Myerscough. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  18. ^ Parsons, Elly (7 October 2022). "Sold!: Sir Jony Ive creates unique Apple wares for Design Museum auction". Wallpaper. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  19. ^ "Brown wins Designer of the Year". Design Week. 27 May 2004. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  20. ^ Jinman, Richard (10 June 2005). "Design award winner no shaper of 'things'". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  21. ^ "Gorillaz artist wins design award". BBC News. 23 May 2006. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  22. ^ "Beazley: enters five year partnership with the Design Museum". Market Screener. 31 August 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  23. ^ Fairs, Marcus. "Yves Béhar wins Design of the Year". Dezeen. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  24. ^ Etherington, Rose. "Shepard Fairey wins Design of the Year". Dezeen. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  25. ^ Etherington, Rose. "Min-Kyu Choi wins Brit Insurance Design of the Year Award 2010". Dezeen. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  26. ^ Sinclair, Mark. "Plumen lightbulb wins Design of the Year 2011". Creative Review. Centaur. Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  27. ^ Etherington, Rose. "London 2012 Olympic Torch by BarberOsgerby wins Design of the Year 2012". Dezeen. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  28. ^ " wins Design of the Year award". BBC News. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  29. ^ "Zaha Hadid project in Baku wins Design of the Year". BBC. BBC. 6 July 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  30. ^ Howarth, Dan (22 June 2015). "Human Organs-on-Chips wins Design of the Year 2015". Dezeen. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  31. ^ Leah Dolan. "A seesaw for kids on the US-Mexico border wins Beazley Design of the Year". CNN. Retrieved 19 January 2021.