I am a practising designer with over 40 years experience in graphic design, advertising and marketing. I am embarrassed for my profession if this is the best we can do to represent it.
I brought a couple of keen schoolchildren to the Design Museum in January 2013 for an investigatory and hopefully educational visit, hoping to be able to show them a representative cross section of British design excellence and possibly even a few recent award winners and stand out projects of particular importance or contemporary relevance that they could use a starting point n the appreciation of design.
My expectations were not wildly high, but I did expect possibly a a basic, useful and inspiring exposition of the values, techniques and achievements of British design.
I was frankly gobsmacked to find what wasn't there.
From a total absence of archive or historical presentation of the heritage and roots of the British design sensibility, to a near-vacuum of relevant examples of contemporary work, all topped off by a superficial treatment of graphic design, there was nothing beyond a crude display of utterly predictable objecs stacked sadly in ghastly faux-storage bin wooden rack shelving like forgotten toys on the dead. lifeless second floor.
Gallery 1.5 was 'not in use' - or perhaps I misunderstood an ironic exhibit on the utilitarian nature of prohibitory notices in the early 21st Century and was supposed to force my way in.
The themed exhibition on the first floor appeared to be in the wrong space - I understand there is already a Crafts Council Gallery for jewellery design. The rest of the large space was filmed with irrelevant and non-communicative, unpurposed decorative art and photography, presumably borrowed from the Tate Modern - which is an art gallery.
The entire exercise was undermined even further by the lack of supporting information or any opportunities for the development of whatever ideas may have been inspired by the lacklustre and predictable range of objects and examples on half-hearted display.
The entrance cost to endure this exercise in creative shortfall was extraordinary, but probably in proportion to the huge degree of disappointment it communicated.
Overall, with the exception of the gift shop, the gallery had the air of a building whose contents were in the process of being evacuated to storage.
Which it is, of course. But If the cost of entrance to the new, presumably rivetingly curated Design Museum in Kensington is extrapolated pro rata on a bang-per-buck basis it will set you back about £350 to get in.
Lazy, uninspiring and dull, everything that British design is not supposed to be.
At least make it free if it's going to be this awful.
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