Design Museum – What is There to Do?


Located by the River Thames near Tower Bridge, the Design Museum is one of the unsung heroes of London’s cultural scene.

The museum covers a range of design concepts – from product and industrial, to graphic, fashion and architectural – meaning it is ideal for creative individuals in search of inspiration or those just looking to see cutting-edge designs in the various fields.

Design Museum

As the museum is not subsidised by the UK Arts Council, it is not free at the point of entry. However, visitors can be encouraged by the fact their patronage helps to support the development of future exhibitions.

So what is there to see and do at the museum?


Designs of the Year

This is the eighth year that the Design Museum has pulled together pieces under the ‘Designs of the Year’ banner. The exhibition seeks to celebrate design that “promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year”. There are six categories covered – digital, fashion, architecture, graphics, industrial and transport.

Life on Foot

This exhibition seeks to capture the journey that shoemaking has been on and how it has been shaped by contemporary design and new technologies. It represents the first collection by the Spanish footwear brand Camper and will shine a light on the design and manufacturing process. Camper has opened its significant archives to create a truly compelling display.

The Arrangement of Furniture in a Museum

Marking 30 years of retailer SCP, this exhibition will display more than forty pieces spanning the company’s history and role as a leading design manufacturer. Highlights will include Jasper Morrison’s 1986 Slatted stool, James Irvine’s 1996 Archiver and Konstantin Grcic’s 1996 Prado desk.


The museum also gets a series of expert designers in to give talks about new industry developments and how they tackle the creative process. Among the upcoming highlights are:

Work in Progress

Taking its title from this years’ London Festival of Architecture, this discussion, which takes place on June 9th, will see leading experts reflect on design, urban change and how experiences are always a work in progress. Alastair Donald, Deyan Sudjic and Sam Pearce are among the speakers.

A Next Generation

This talk is being curated by the Irish Architecture Foundation and will see Clancy Moore, Hall McKnight and Steve Larkin share their views on how various disciplines can be brought together in the name of architecture. The event takes place on June 17th.

What Makes a Design of the Year?

Nicolas Roope, Hettie Judah and Dr Catharine Rossi will delve into the topic of what makes for a great design. Does it have to promote change? Should it extend design practice? Or should it merely capture the spirit of the year? This conversation takes place on July 7th.

Design Museum Tank

This pop-up glass installation space is outside the museum and designs inside change frequently. Thanks to the dramatic location – it is facing the River Thames – it provides a stunning view of the tank at night. The current exhibit is called ‘Stained Glass Driverless Car of the Future’. It was designed by Dominic Wilcox and combines glass work with modern and future technologies to give an indication of what transport could look like by the mid-point of this century.


A number of workshops across various disciplines and age groups are put on by the museum, with hope that everyone who attends is able to acquire new skills. From Create and Make (for children aged 5-11) to The Sunday Sketch (all skill levels welcome), there are plenty of opportunities for people to get their creative juices flowing.

Getting to the Design Museum

By underground

Take either the District or Circle lines to Tower Hill, or the Northern and Jubilee lines to London Bridge.

By rail

Take the overground network to London Bridge or DLR to Tower Gateway [Tower Hill].

By bus

The 42, 47, 78, 188, 381 services to Tooley Street all stop near the Design Museum, as do the 100 to Tower Gateway and the 225 to Jamaica Road RV1 to Tower Bridge

From London Bridge

Walk for 15 minutes south along the River Thames, past Tower Bridge.

From Tower Hill

Walk for 15 minutes across Tower Bridge, take the stairs on the south side of Tower Bridge down to Shad Thames street.

By car

There is a Q-Park car park on Gainsford Street (SE1 2NE) that can be used, while parking meters are available on Maguire Street. There is also a drop-off point for coaches and cars in Maguire Street.

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