Ig­nored London land­mark un­der­goes huge makeover

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By RUTH HOLMES in London Agence France Presse

From Walk­mans and iPhones to clas­sic cars and robotic arms, London’s newly opened De­signMu­seum will of­fer a jour­ney through the world of con­tem­po­rary de­sign.

The mu­seum in London’s plush Kens­ing­ton district is the cul­mi­na­tion of a $103-mil­lion project to trans­form a once derelict build­ing.

“Our am­bi­tion is to cre­ate some­where which would be a world cen­ter for de­sign and a place to start con­ver­sa­tions about the world of de­sign,” mu­seum di­rec­tor Deyan Sud­jic said last week at a me­dia pre­view.

The mu­seum con­tains al­most 1,000 ob­jects in its per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tion — among them a London un­der­ground train, a Ford Model T car, Gucci ten­nis shoes andChris­tian Louboutin’s Pi­galle high-heels — cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing from fashion to en­gi­neer­ing.

The mu­seum’s new site is nearly three times the size of its pre­vi­ous home, which was a for­mer ba­nana ware­house in south­east London.

Bri­tish de­signer Ter­ence Con­ran, who founded the mu­seum, hailed it as a “mag­nif­i­cent new cathe­dral of de­sign” and said the move was “the most im­por­tant mo­ment of my ca­reer”.

“It al­lows all our dreams and am­bi­tions for the mu­seum to come true, to cre­ate a world class space, truly in­ter­na­tional, with the size and scope for the se­ri­ous pro­mo­tion and cel­e­bra­tion of de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture in this coun­try,” he said ahead of the pub­lic open­ing on Nov 24.

“I don’t think there’s any­where in the world that comes up to this mu­seum at the mo­ment.”

‘New life and pur­pose’

The 1960s mod­ernist build­ing — for­merly London’s Com­mon­wealth In­sti­tute — was re­fur­bished by ar­chi­tect John Paw­son in a fiveyear project, re­tain­ing its strik­ing roof.

Luq­man Arnold, chair­man of the mu­seum’s trustees, says the trans­for­ma­tion of a “derelict and unloved build­ing had “given a ne­glected London icon a new life and pur­pose”.

“It will pro­vide an in­ter­na­tional show­case for the many de­sign skills at which Bri­tain ex­cels and a cre­ative cen­ter pro­mot­ing in­no­va­tion, nur­tur­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of de­sign tal­ent,” he said.

The mu­seum’s first tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tion, en­ti­tled Fear and Love— re­ac­tions to a com­plex world— com­prises 11 in­stal­la­tions by in­ter­na­tional de­sign­ers in­clud­ingKenyaHara of Ja­pan, Amer­i­can-Is­raeli Neri Ox­man and Bri­tish Turk­ish-Cypriot Hus­sein Cha­layan.

The Pan Euro­pean Liv­ing Room, an in­stal­la­tion by theOMAar­chi­tec­ture prac­tice, is fur­nished with a piece of de­sign from each of the 28 EU mem­ber states, propos­ing that our no­tion of do­mes­tic in­te­ri­ors has been shaped by Euro­pean trade and co­op­er­a­tion.

Chief cu­ra­tor Justin McGuirk de­scribes the ex­hi­bi­tion as “a lab­o­ra­tory of ideas, and a place for ab­sorb­ing how the world is chang­ing”.

“De­sign is a very broad and ver­sa­tile dis­ci­pline to­day and it’s deal­ing with a lot of com­plex is­sues — that’s what this show is about.” Chi­nese fashion brand Shen­bai show­cased its new col­lec­tion ear­lier this month at China Fash­ionWeek. Known for its cou­ture wed­ding gowns, the brand com­bines West­ern tai­lor­ing with tra­di­tional Chi­nese crafts­man­ship. Its 2017 spring/sum­mer col­lec­tion is in­spired by 17th-cen­tury Paris.


Left: A woman looks at ex­hibits at the De­sign Mu­seum dur­ing its open­ing in Kens­ing­ton, London, on Nov 17. Right: A gen­eral view of the same mu­seum.

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