First look inside the new Design Museum

John Pawson's minimalist masterpiece is taking shape inside London's former Commonwealth Institute
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Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye
Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye

It might seem like an odd motto for an architect, but John Pawson chose to post a quote from the English writer and theologian GK CHesterton at the top of his online journal entry charting the progress of Britain’s new Design Museum. 

 

Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye
Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye

“The fatal metaphor of progress, which means leaving things behind us, has utterly obscured the real idea of growth,” wrote Chesterton in his 1920 essay The Romance of Rhyme.

 

Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye
Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye

In 2010, Pawson was appointed to oversee the redevelopment of London’s Commonwealth Institute into a new home for the museum. Since then, much of his work has involved preserving and restoring this impressive building, rather than entirely reworking it.

 

Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye
Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye

We have already written how Pawson and his team have dug away at the building’s foundations to prepare it for its new role. Now, after Willmott Dixon Interiors won the £20m contract to fit out the museum’s interior a few days ago, we can take a first look at the interior fit-out.

 

Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye
Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye

The inside is still a long way away from the renderings for the finished building, below. Once it is completed next year, the 10,000-square-metre site will house a permanent design display, two temporary exhibition spaces, a learning area, two shops, a café, a restaurant, and a members’ lounge, as well as a library and archive, a 192-seat auditorium, an events space and a studio for the museum’s designer-in-residence.

 

A rendering of the new Design Museum
A rendering of the new Design Museum

Still, from these pictures we can appreciate the importance of retaining the main features of this Modernist building, which will soon house many smaller, yet equally well formed design works.

 

Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye
Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye

For more on the new museum go here; for greater insight into John Pawson’s life, work and designs take a look at his books here; and for more on contemporary interiors take a look at our new book, Room.

 

Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye
Work gets underway inside the new Design Museum. Photography by French + Tye


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