Before The Design Museum moved to its new home in Kensington I’d visit the bookshop regularly. It was a great place to pick up quirky books about design and art of a lunchtime, but the price of admission made it impractical to visit. Then my partner and I decide to take the plunge, paid the fee and spent about ninety minutes walking up and down an awkwardly laid out building looking at bric-a-brac.

It was disappointing.

When we heard it had moved to Kensington we figured we’d give it another go. To be honest all we were interested in was the Soviet Propaganda exhibition, but decided to give it a fresh look.

I’ve got this horrible feeling that someone somewhere thinks the new layout is cutting edge museum design or something. It isn’t. There’s a vast open hall that you walk into and the impression of multiple layers of design goodness to enjoy. Put those thoughts to one side.

Entry is now free and if you wander up to the second floor you get to see a new collection of bric-a-brac laid out in some incoherent manner that’s meant to represent the “maker – designer – user” relationship. Frankly it’s like looking at someone’s Pinterest page with about the same level of coherent narrative. I’m still not entirely sure what the plywood kitchen is meant to represent.

Paid exhibitions are now lower in the building. Our much-looked-forward-to Moscow one was on the -1 floor, which turned out to be -2 because all you did was walk down stairs. Again we found the same incoherence and confused layout that we’d found on the floors above. It was interesting to see the handful of propaganda posters on display and various architectural drawings, I’ll give them that much.

Given it’s out of the way in relation to the main sights, museums and galleries in London I’d suggest giving this one a miss. Unless they’ve got something on that you really want to take a look at, but then don’t expect much in the way of curation.

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Who is Ross A Hall?

I'm a freelance designer and writer. My clients have included Fintech startups, publishers and digital agencies. You can read more about my work here.

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