The Design Museum opens in London's Kensington

The Design Museum opens in London's Kensington


After four years in the making the new Design Museum is now open in London's Kensington. The 1960's Grade 11 listed building has been partially preserved, notably the iconic copper covered roof structure, while the interior has been remodelled to reflect it's status as the largest design museum in the world.Renowned minimalist architect John Pawson and dutch practice OMA have essentially re-built the interior to include a pale grey terrazzo floor, wooden walkways linking the different floors and impromptu seating spaces. The underside of the intricate roof has been left in it's raw form to showcase the material and structural details.


The contrast between the new and old creates a synergy within the space while also providing a strong backdrop for the exhibitions and events taking place.  White, wood, concrete and terrazzo provide a muted colour palette with subtle differentiated through texture.


While focusing on the larger collections and exhibitions now available, it is hard not to be mesmerised  by the sweeping forms of the roof itself.


And what museum is complete without a gift shop bursting with beautiful objects and editorial wonders? John Pawson was tasked with creating the interior spaces, including the shop that utilises a dark grey backdrop in contrast to the rest of the interior.


Having only been open a week, the reviews have been mixed. Some feel the space is too dominated by the oak veneer, giving it more of a boutique hotel feel, than that of a leading museum. Others have observed a disconnect between the main building atrium and the interior spaces.

While the roof itself is a striking feature the interior, in contrast, is an exercise in playing it safe.  But isn't that the point? The atrium, gallery spaces and large open corridors create a relatively neutral backdrop, perhaps deliberately to enable the curated design exhibitions to take centre stage.