Graphic tributes celebrate the Design Museum’s 30th anniversary
Festivities for the Design Museum’s 30th birthday have kicked off with the unveiling of a set of commemorative graphics drawn up by dozens of designers in honour of the London institution.
Salutations from the museum’s founder Sir Terence Conran, its interior designer John Pawson and the fashion designer Paul Smith are among almost 40 contributions to the series, which began on social media. ‘It started off as a small fun project for social media. It has since snowballed. We realised that designers were enjoying the prospect of a such a simple, perhaps even frivolous, brief,’ says Josephine Chanter, the museum’s director of audiences.
Conran’s own offering to the project he considers the pinnacle of his career is an animated ‘30’ built from candy-hued triangles, circles and blocks. He says of the milestone: ‘[if I was] asked to pick the single most rewarding achievement in my long design career so far, I would not hesitate to say firmly the Design Museum in London.’
The Design Museum opened in July 1989 inside a former banana-ripening warehouse in Shad Thames, where it remained for 25 years before relocating to Kensington in 2016. It was a homecoming in a sense, as it was here in the V&A’s Boilerhouse Project in the early 1980s where Conran first experimented with the idea for the museum, spotlighting the Memphis Group at one of these early exhibitions. Founding member of the Milanese collective, Nathalie Du Pasquier, sent a characteristically patterned token to mark the momentous occasion.
The Design Museum now resides in the Grade II*-listed former Commonwealth Institute on Kensington High Street, remodelled for the purpose by OMA, Allies and Morrison, and John Pawson – who has extended his restrained style to the festivities with a ‘thirty’ inscribed by hand. Illustrator Quentin Blake followed suit with a simply sketched ‘30’, while Peter Saville turned to Roman numerals for his graphic.
Contributions spanning the industry – from the artist Antony Gormley and illustrator Matt Blease, to industrial designers Hella Jongerius and Kenneth Grange, and fashion designer Anya Hindmarch – continue the museum’s ethos of exploring the breadth of design today. ‘If I go back to my original thinking about the Design Museum and what had influenced me, it was those wonderful Triennale exhibitions in Milan which showed excellent design from throughout the world, and that’s what I felt was important for the British economy,’ says Conran in an interview with 2019 designer in residence, Ella Bulley, to mark the anniversary. ‘Design is such a fascinating world and only recently people begin to understand how fundamental design is to the quality of life.’
The 2019 exhibition programme makes bridges to architecture and film with ‘David Adjaye: Making Memory’ (until 4 August 2019) and ‘Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition’ (until 15 September); and in the autumn a showcase of the years’s best new design, Beazley Designs of the Year 2019, will be presented alongside a look to the future of space colonisation with ‘Moving to Mars’.
An archival display, ‘Made in 1989 – Celebrating 30 years of the Design Museum’, is on also show until 12 January 2020, with the 30th anniversary emblems are presented online on the museum’s website. ‘We have had lots of suggestions of what we should do with the 30s – a fundraising auction, a set of 30th birthday cards, an online gallery, watch this space!,’ says Chanter. §