Design Museum's tribute to club culture reopens post lockdown

Art, photography, typography, shape shifting installations and music come together at Design Museum’s ‘Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers’

Maschine The Catalogue
The Catalogue 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 By Kraftwerk
(Image credit: press)

Headphones and 3-D spectacles are essential for the recently re-opened, fully immersive, audio / visual / multi-sensory, hyper-experiential exhibition ‘Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers’ at the Design Museum, London.

The showcase is a celebration of contemporary club culture, artwork and ephemera and a history of electronica-related equipment. Experience The Telharmonium (aka the first ever synthesizer or ‘the Victorian Spotify’) from 1901 through to a personally curated reimagining of French electronic music maverick Jean-Michel Jarre’s recording studio, right up to the cutting edge, tripedal synthesiser custom-made for Detroit DJ Jeff Mills by Yuri Suzuki, which looks more like an X-fighter dashboard than a traditional drum machine.


Former Wallpaper* guest editor Ralf Hütter, co-founder of Germany’s Kraftwerk, is represented by a sequence of still-captivating 3-D film shorts from the band’s 2017 tour. Art and graphic design – for vinyl record sleeves, posters, streaming imagery, rave and club flyers – is showcased as a visual response to the music, an extension of the electronic artist and their genre.

Framed photo

Union Rave, 1995

(Image credit: Andreas Gursky)

Fusing disciplines

The exhibition looks at how artists like Christian Marclay, Andreas Gusrky, Peter Saville, Mark Farrow and Studio Moross fuse typography, photography and fine art with the contemporary electronic soundtrack’s beats, bleeps and squelches. Norway/USA-based design outfit Non-Format’s work for London record label Lo Recordings is a dazzling exercise in typographic invention with studio founders Kjell Ekhorn and Jon Forss creating unique fonts and dynamic monochrome graphics for each of the label’s many vinyl releases.

Exhibition design

An adaptation of the hugely popular exhibition from Musée de la Musique - Philharmonie de Paris, Electronic’s original concept and 3D design is helmed by Paris- based 1024 Architecture, the studio contributing its own exhibit in the form of a robotic sculpture titled ‘Walking Cube’. Aurally sensitive and activated by ambient beats, the shape shifting cube’s jerkily diverse transformations are driven by air-powered mechanics prepared and executed with brutal force. ‘A demonstration presenting the chaotic possibilities in the deconstruction of a common and minimal form,’ explain the cube’s designers.

Pink paper people

Got To Keep On (2019), installation by The Chemical Brothers and Smith & Lyall

(Image credit: press)

Working in collaboration with London’s All Things Studio, 1024 Architecture also conceived the truly mesmerising CORE light installation, a three dimensional soundwave of multicoloured rods inspired by the electronic music experience’s narcotic, synaesthetic perceptions.  

The Chemical Brothers

Ending on a high we take a trip into the visual world of The Chemical Brothers’ Smith & Lyall-designed live shows where doomy and dreamy, IMAX-size film imagery and weapons grade laser lights interact to viscerally devastating effect. At this, the exhibition’s peak, uplifting music pumps while giant and vivid, almost tangible, cuddly/creepy Leigh Bowery-esque figures dance amongst the visitors. The Design Museum has never looked, or sounded, so good.

Untitled Vanity Flight Case By Bruno Peinado, 2005

Untitled Vanity Flight Case, 2005

(Image credit: Bruno Peinado)

Core by 1024 Architecture


(Image credit: 1024 Architecture)

Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers is open until 14 February 2021.


224-238 Kensington High St
W8 6AG