“This is one of the best days of my long life.” So said Terence Conran at the ground breaking ceremony for the new home of the Design Museum at the Commonwealth Institute, Kensington.
The Museum’s leading lights – including Deyan Sudjic, the current Director, Terence, the founder, and John Pawson, the architect behind the Institute’s conversion – gathered to celebrate a new phase in the Museum’s history.
The ground was broken, and a time capsule – to be opened in 2112 – was buried. The capsule contains gifts from the design world to the future. Terence Conran contributed a tin of sardines, a bottle of Burgundy, and one of the early 21st Century’s most recognisable designs – an iPhone 4S.
Thomas Heatherwick and Ingo Maurer contributed a light bulb – a design classic if ever there was one – while Kenneth Grange offered Arne Jacobsen’s Cylinder Line coffee pot. Other offerings included a Team GB cycling helmet, an image of Battersea Power Station, and a set of artists’ tube maps (designed by Tracey Emin) from the Mayor’s office.
In his speech, Terence reiterated what brought him to found the museum a quarter of a century ago – the lack of a true home for design in Britain, and an associated lack of recognition for the importance of design to our history.
The designers of the Industrial Revolution – from Thomas Newcomen to Robert Stephenson – put Britain made Britain the workshop of the world. The figures huddled together in Kensington this morning believe a new crop of designer can do similar. As Terence put it: “Design is absolutely central to the future of this country…we need to make things.”
He implored government to listen, and their representative today – Ed Vaizey, the Architecture Minister, assured him they would. “Those of you who know Terence Conran know that when he speaks, you should jolly well listen.” We can’t disagree with that.
Congratulations to everyone at the Design Museum. Here’s to the future of British design!