Design Museum Collection

The Design Museum’s collection is an important record of the key designs that have shaped the modern world. It tells the history of mass production, from the manufacturing innovations of the nineteenth century up to the digital and making revolution of the last few years. The collection spans all aspects of design including architecture, fashion, furniture, product and graphic design, digital media and transport.

Collection favourites

During it's 25th anniversary year, the museum released exclusive interview videos with some of the industry's most important designers. Watch some of the designers talking about their favourite objects from the Design Museum’s Collection.

Morag Myerscough

Designer Morag Myerscough talks about her item of choice, the Singer Sewing Machine.

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Javier Mariscal

Designer Javier Mariscal talks about his item of choice, the Vespa.

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Aitor Throup

Designer Aitor Throup talks about his item of choice, the DC01 vacuum cleaner, designed by James Dyson.

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Paul Smith

Paul Smith talks about his item of choice, the Dieter Rams SK5 Phonosuper

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Jonathan Barnbrook

Graphic Designer Jonathan Barnbrook talks about his item of choice, the Road Sign by Jock Kinneir & Margaret Calvert.

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Sean Perkins

Designer Sean Perkins talks about his item of choice, the Saarinen Tulip Chair.

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Art and Industry, Boilerhouse Project exhibition, 1982

When did you begin collecting?

The Design Museum’s collection dates from its time as the pioneering Boilerhouse Project, located in the V&A between 1982-6. One of the earliest objects to enter the museum’s collection was a Mobil petrol pump designed by Eliot Noyes in 1968. It occupied a prominent position in the first Boilerhouse Project exhibition, Art and Industry in 1982.

What do you collect and why?

The museum collects objects that help to explain what design is to a non-specialist audience. In addition to looking after key examples of design from the past, we acquire objects relating to the process of design, from tools, drawings and prototypes, speculative designs and finished production models.

Are you still collecting?

Yes. In a thoughtful way. As the world’s leading museum of contemporary architecture and design, we aim to collect that which is new, influential, innovative or experimental in design and society. But since technology and manufacturing methods evolve so quickly, products which once appeared new almost immediately become design history. Our ambition is to continue developing the collection without losing our ability to be light on our feet.

How much do you have to spend?

The museum has a specific fund for the Collection, kindly donated by the Conran Foundation. We have a number of other generous supporters including the Art Fund, who helped with the acquisition of one of Jasper Morrison’s earliest designs, the Handlebar Table.

related exhibition

Designer Maker User

Designer Maker User will use the museum’s collection to look at the development of modern design through these three interconnected roles.