Super Contemporary, Design Museum, London

Lampost chandelier design sketch
(Image credit: TBC)

One of the consequences of environmentally conscious design is an increased move by designers to think public not just domestic. Super Contemporary, a new exhibition at the Design Museum, has tackled this head-on by commissioning 15 of London’s leading creatives to design something that improves life in the city, inspired by the city.

Entrance door to Super Contemporary design exhibition

(Image credit: TBC)

See more of the design proposals

Some have chosen ubiquitous icons of the cityscape and given them a makeover: David Adjaye has designed a bus stop, Industrial Facility a post box kiosk and Thomas Heatherwick a lamppost ‘chandelier’. Others have created concepts that address perennial London nuisances: Paul Smith has designed a rabbit-shaped litterbin whose ears light up when you chuck in your chewing gum, Paul Cocksedge

has created a rain shield and BarberOsgerby a ‘listening station’.

There are more specific location-based creations too taking some of the city’s landmarks, reinterpreting them to make us see them in a fresh light: Ron Arad has created a film about the Hayward’s Neon Tower, Nigel Coates has created a proposal for the much-attempted reimagining of Battersea Power Station and El Ultimo Grito, together with Urban Salon, have tackled Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.

The 15 commissions are supplemented by a collection of maps showing how various creative communities are spread across the capital: Nick Roope has charted the digital community, B Store have mapped young fashion designers and David Rosen together with Neville Brody have plotted studio locations.

At the very least the collection of 15 proposals, all on display at the Design Museum, show the strength and breadth of London’s home grown creative talent. At best the more practical designs provide realistic, commercially viable, improvements to everyday life in London. What you’re left with is a sense of the sheer number of creatives working to their own agenda and the only thing they all have in common is the identity of their urban umbrella.

As an exhibition, guest curated by the indomitably imaginative Daniel Charny, it serves as an interesting study for designers and visitors alike to reconsider the way we live and negotiate this particular urban environment with the contemporary concerns we face. Real value could now be added not just by manufacturing the more practical creations but by hosting similar exhibitions in other cities around the globe.


Design Museum
Shad Thames
London SE1 2YD


Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.