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 Design 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, the museum 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, the Design Museum aims 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. The ambition is to continue developing the collection without losing the ability to be light on the feet.

How much do you have to spend?

The museum has a specific fund for the Collection, kindly donated by the Conran Foundation. There are 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 publications

Design Museum in a Box

This publication includes a selection of iconic designs printed in postcards. Published to mark the museum's relaunch in Kensington, this 'museum in a box' contains one hundred world-famous designs inspired by the museum's collection.

Designers Maker User

Catalogue for the museum's collection display and an introduction to contemporary design, providing non-specialists and enthusiasts with an appreciation of the objects and spaces that shape everyday life. The book highlights key designs, designers, movements, and manufacturers in spheres as diverse as fashion, furniture, and the digital revolution.

related exhibition

Designer Maker User

The Designer Maker User display presents the museum’s collection looking at the development of modern design through the three interconnected roles of designer, maker and user.