Thoughts from the Design Museum

Getting creative with the works at the Design Museum.

Recently I visited the Design Museum for the first time and I was fascinated not only by the pieces on display, but also with how the museum chose to display them.

While all museums and galleries aim to exhibit works in ways that are interesting and easy to view, the Design Museum takes this to the next level with its, surprise, elements of design.

Be it a chair, camera or otherwise, items placed on mirrors so viewers can quickly, easily and effortlessly appreciate the works from all angles. There is even a car with half the exterior removed so one can instantly enjoy the otward design while taking in the interior workings. A true-to-scale motorway sign takes up the back wall of the top floor provoking awe at the realisation of how large this practical item is while also showing off its sleek, elegant design.

However, the Design Museum’s temporary Interpretations of Africa exhibition truly got me thinking.

Successful design, successful branding, or both?

Interpretations of Africa focused on the artists behind the football teams’ uniform redesign, what the chose to do and why – and it was all very interesting and educational. In fact, I actually sit and watched the video in full and returned during my visit to re-watch certain segments, which is a first for me!

But what really intrigued me was the train of thought that came out of experiencing this exhibition: had these artists redesigned the uniforms or rebranded these teams?

Just like when creating a brand, the designers here worked to put meaning behind the uniforms the footballers were wearing. From the colours to the imagery and patterns that were incorporated, it all meant something while still being visually appealing. And because the teams whose uniforms underwent redesigns during this project sponsored by Puma already had a designed uniform, it can easily be argued that the teams underwent a rebrading in addition to redesign.

I haven’t studied design and I’m still learning about branding so I personally don’t have an answer. However, this case study about Tropicana’s redesign/loss of branding makes some interesting points about how design and branding are linked and communicate a message, which to me means that redesigning can be a rebrand if the visual or message associated with a product are changed or lost in the process. (I’ll have to continue researching this because I’m truly fascinated.)

What do you think? Should this be called a successful design, a successful brand, or is it both? Let me know in the comments!

My favourite pieces from Designers in Residence and This is Design, as well as some views I enjoyed at the museum
Not pictured: Chandelier Spectacle (2006) Stuart Haygarth (made of discarded NHS spectacles)

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