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The Design Museum, Kensington London

As it’s (supposedly) mid-summer, there’s no better time to down tools, turn off the mac’s and head into London to take in the sights, sounds and inspiration that the capital has to offer. So with the phones set to ‘divert’, the coffee machine given a rest, and the ‘out of offices’ set, the LaserLines team headed to the big smoke.

Along with an obligatory coffee stop, our destination was The Design Museum, Kensington London. A couple of the team hadn’t been to the museum before, so were excited to see what it had to offer.

Now, the museum itself could of got away with a particularly unassuming exterior, with the argument being “it’s inside where the real inspiration lies”. Thankfully though, someone forgot to bring this point up when the museum was being designed, as there are examples of exquisite, and considered design everywhere. From the perfectly kerned typographic logo on the main entrance, to the wonderfully angular buildings and water feature adding relief to the sharp, crisp corners – it’s all very impressive!

The Design Museum, Kensington London

The Design Museum, Kensington London

Once inside, the architectural treat just keeps on giving. The large concrete entrance has an almost atrium feel about it, providing dizzying views straight up to the ceiling. With a wooden spiralled walkway making its way around the edge of the building, and no obvious signs of tactile fabrics being used, the echo should be something a small child can only dream of – yet, the acoustics are beautifully muted and smooth – an impressive feat to say the least.

The Design Museum, Kensington London

The building’s impressive architecture aside, the museum was split into three separate areas; the main museum and two exhibitions: “California: Designing Freedom” and “Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius”.

California: Designing Freedom

First up for us was a trip stateside, to the sunshine state.

The Design Museum, Kensington London

Exhibition graphics for California: Designing Freedom. www.design.google/library/california-designing-freedom

“Designed in California” is the new “Made in Italy”. While California’s mid-century modernism is well documented, this is the first exhibition to examine its current global reach. Picking up the story in the 1960s, the exhibition charts the journey from the counterculture to Silicon Valley’s tech culture.

The exhibition centralises around the premise that “California has pioneered tools of personal liberation, from LSD to surfboards and iPhones” it brings together “political posters and portable devices, but also looks beyond hardware to explore how user interface designers in the San Francisco Bay Area are shaping some of our most common daily experiences.” This was something of particular interest to us, and Google’s use of “Material Design” is inspired.

Social media is a major part of our everyday lives, so to see the evolution of our most loved and used platforms was hugely inspirational. We’ve all seen “The Social Network”, but it was great to see the real life, non-hollywood version of Facebook and to find out where it all started, as well as the coding behind it. From the first Tweet on “Twittr”, to a now global base of over 319,000,000 users, Twitters small 140 character “tweets” have made a big impact on the world. It’s story, like Facebook’s, started from humble beginnings.

The other star of the exhibition was of course Apple. It was great seeing early prototypes, manufacturing moulds, as well as early iPads and iPods when they were just experimental dreams.

There was of course a lot more we haven’t mentioned – the first portable computer, David Carson’s Raygun, Emory Douglas’s Black Panther posters, Gilbert Baker’s Gay Pride flag and the original sketches for Apple’s revolutionary user interface icons, to name a few. I can honestly say we all exited through the “emoji wall” feeling very inspired and itching to “make and create”. To design or create a solution that has such an impact on the world, can be experienced by so many, and changes the way we go about our lives is something we all strive to achieve in our careers.

Breathing colour by Hella Jongerius

The Design Museum, Kensington London

Breathing Colour by acclaimed Dutch designer Hella Jongerius, is an installation-based exhibition that takes a deeper look at the way colour behaves, exploring shapes, materials, shadows and reflections.

Aiming to change the way we look at the world, Hella Jongerius’s exhibition “questions our preconceptions of colour and embraces its imperfection and experimentation”. Viewing colours and shapes across different daylight conditions impacts our perception of colour greatly, as well as the colours we actually see.

The exhibition is a fantastic look into our relationship with colour, how we use it, and why. It also reminds us just what a vital role colour has on our perceptions, and how we should allow it to “change”  – a point illustrated by 300 brightly coloured glazed vases, each using the traditional method of using metal oxides to create stunningly vibrant and unique colours. Something that has been lost to the need of uniformity in manufacturing.

The Design Museum, Kensington London

The exhibition was hugely informal, and made us see colour in an entirely new light (excuse the pun).


The Design Museum

The Design Museum, Kensington London

The museum itself offers a great insight into design principles and case studies into famous design projects, such as: London TransportBritish Road Signage System, and Massimo Vignelli’s NYC Subway System.

We left feeling throughly rejuvenated, and bursting full of ideas, inspiration and creativity. When working for a creative agency, it’s easy to get your head down, and crack on with ever demanding deadlines from week to week. Every now and then you need to push the “reset” button and refresh your creative juices, taking in inspiration and allowing yourself to see things differently – we know our clients will appreciate it.

Right, where was that new fancy coffee shop i’ve seen creating “flat white art” on Instagram?!