Deyan Sudjic selects favourite exhibitions from the Design Museum

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Deyan Sudjic selects favourite exhibitions from a decade at the Design Museum

London's Design Museum closes the doors of its Shad Thames building for the final time tomorrow, ahead of its move across town. In a Dezeen exclusive, Deyan Sudjic reflects on his favourite memories from the 10 years since he took over as director (+ photos by Luke Hayes).

The Design Museum was established by designer Terence Conran and journalist Stephen Bayley to highlight the importance of industrial design to contemporary culture.

Originally housed in the basement of the V&A, the museum moved into a converted banana warehouse at Shad Thames in 1989 – where it has been based ever since. But this November it relocates to a new John Pawson-designed home inside the former Commonwealth Institute.

Deyan Sudjic took over as director in 2006. Since then the museum has hosted the work of designers including Zaha Hadid, Paul Smith and Dieter Rams, and exhibits ranging from elaborate dresses to a Formula One race car.

Sudjic has selected his 10 favourite exhibitions over the course of that decade, all featuring photography by Luke Hayes.


Formula One, 2006

Design Museum highlights exhibition as the museum moves homes

"This was the show that opened when I first got to the Design Museum 10 years ago. Morag Myerscough did a great job of designing it, Damon Hill opened it and Donna Loveday, the co-curator, managed to persuade Bernie Ecclestone to let us use the word Formula One in the title – a truly powerful combination."


Zaha Hadid - Architecture and Design, 2007

Design Museum highlights exhibition as the museum moves homes

"Zaha had not had a major retrospective in the UK at this point. I think that the Design Museum actually did a better job in 2007 than the Guggenheim did with their show the year before. We had a real hit on our hands; the museum was crammed with people all the time and we had an audience who had never been to an architecture show before itching to get through the doors."


Less and More – The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams, 2009

Design Museum highlights exhibition as the museum moves homes

"Curator Alex Newson, working with Bibliotheque, had the idea of constructing an approximation of Rams' own home with the Modern Jazz Quartet playing on the big Braun reel-to-reel. Rams loved it! Introducing Rams to a potential donor helped us land our first £1-million donation to the new building – a major step towards the position that we are now in."


Urban Africa – David Adjaye's Photographic Survey, 2010

Design Museum highlights exhibition as the museum moves homes

"This was the exhibition that brought Ghanaian diplomat Kofe Annan to the museum – an incredible moment in our history."


John Pawson – Plain Space, 2010

Design Museum highlights exhibition as the museum moves homes

"David Chipperfield and John Pawson were both the subjects of exhibitions at the museum in the run up to the competition we staged to choose an architect for the restoration of the Commonwealth Institute. We had a shortlist of seven firms in the end. John Pawson was eventually picked to deliver the new Design Museum and I can’t wait to open the doors to the public in November."


Christian Louboutin: 20 Years, 2012

Design Museum highlights exhibition as the museum moves homes

"The Louboutin show beat all records for visitors, attracted as much perhaps by the Ditta von Teese hologram inside, as the riverside tank on the outside."


Hello, My Name is Paul Smith, 2013

Design Museum highlights exhibition as the museum moves homes

"Paul Smith has been a friend of the museum since the early days. Hello My Name is Paul Smith was his second exhibition at the Design Museum and the felt just as relevant and important as the first. The exhibition is currently on tour in Japan, where it will display in three different cities before the end of the year."


Designers in Residence, 2007 - present

Design Museum highlights exhibition as the museum moves homes

"Designers in Residence has been an important part of our programme, showcasing the work of a new generation, providing them with mentoring and a budget for an exhibition. When we move we will actually have studio space for them too! Last year Asif Khan – part of the original group of Designers in Residence – became a trustee, demonstrating the close relation that the museum builds with all the designers that take part in the scheme."


Designs of the Year, 2008 - present

Design Museum highlights exhibition as the museum moves homes

"Designs of the Year is now in its ninth year – the essential annual affirmation of all forms of design. Each year the jury tries to find a project that stands for a particular moment, from the Obama poster by Shepherd Fairey to Barber & Osgerby's Olympic torch."


Permanent Collection, 2013 - present

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"In the new building we will offer free admission to the permanent collection – a first in the Design Museum's history. In the run up to moving, we have tested out various approaches to telling the story of design and we are now ready to open a permanent collection for everyone to come and learn the importance and value of design."