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Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today

Delve into the dreamlike relationship between Surrealism and design in this century spanning celebration of surrealist objects of desire.

A Vitra Design Museum Exhibition.

What to expect

Curated with Vitra Design Museum, the exhibition explores design from the birth of surrealism in 1924 to the current day; spanning classic Surrealist works of art and design as well as contemporary surrealist responses. 

The exhibition uncovers how one of the 20th century's most influential movements came to impact design through its questioning of the conventional and its commitment to exploring the mind, unconscious and mystical. 

It brings together the best in Surrealist design, from furniture, interior design, fashion, photography and world-renowned artworks from Surrealist pioneers such as Salvador Dalí, Dora Maar, Man Ray, Leonora Carrington and Lee Miller, through to contemporary artists and designs, such as Schiaparelli, Dior, Björk.  

The result is an exhibition filled with playful, curious and poetic objects that uncover the rich history of Surrealism and its fascinating influence on design.


Exhibition photography by Andy Stagg @studiostagg

Wall plates no. 116 from the series Tema e Variazioni [Theme and Variations], after 1950, Piero Fornasetti, Silk print on porcelain. Fornasetti Archive

Hand Chair, about 1962, Pedro Friedeberg, Production this copy: c. 1965, Carved mahogany. Vitra Design Museum

Sarah Lucas, Cigarette Tits [Idealized Smokers Chest II], 1999. Chair, balls, cigarettes, bra, 78.74 x 49.53 x 52.71 cm (31 x 19 ½ x 20 ¾ in) © Sarah Lucas.

Schiaparelli, Look 6 Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 2021. Courtesy of Schiaparelli

BLESSbeauty Hairbrush, 2019 edition of 1999 design, Bless, beech; human hair. Vitra Design Museum

Book Online

Exhibition & lunch offer

Combine your exhibition visit with a seasonal light lunch in the London Grade Coffee café in our Atrium. Using the season’s best ingredients, the café is offering a soup and a delicious focaccia toastie which can be enjoyed with a glass of organic wine, London-brewed beer or a soft drink for £14.

Available daily between 12:00 and 15:00, just add the lunch option to your basket when you book your exhibition ticket.

Members do not need to pre-book and can request the lunch on the day.

Ticket Information

Online booking is advised but tickets will also be available to buy on the door. Last entry to the exhibition is 90 minutes before the museum closes.

Adult tickets from £16.80
Child tickets from £8.25
Concession tickets from £12.50
Student tickets from £12.50

Tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. Visit our terms & conditions page for further information.

You can download the exhibition text in a large print format from the access information page.


What is Surrealism and why it matters now

Curator Kathryn Johnson explains the story behind surrealism and its impact on design in this video produced in collaboration with Dezeen.

Yasmina Atta: Afro-Surrealism

Delve into the world of fashion designer Yasmina Atta as she explores her inspirations, influences and ideas on modern day Surrealism with Ayoola Solarin, an arts and culture writer.

10 Unmissable Highlights from #ObjectsOfDesire

A fully functioning lobster telephone, a fur bracelet and a chair designed mid-air - explore the 10 unmissable highlights from our exhibition.


Curated with: Vitra Design Museum

The Vitra Design Museum is one of the world's leading museums of design, located in the triangle of Germany, Switzerland and France. It is dedicated to the research and presentation of design, past and present, and examines design's relationship to architecture, art and everyday culture.

Global Sponsor: Hugo Boss

The HUGO BOSS Group is one of the leading companies in the upper premium segment of the apparel market that focuses on the development and marketing of premium fashion and accessories for men and women. In addition to the actual product range, HUGO BOSS is also known for its events, campaigns, international exhibitions and cooperations.

Supported by: Art Mentor Foundation

Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne considers itself a mentor of the arts. The nonprofit foundation was brought into being with the aim of supporting projects that are conducted in a professional manner who blaze new and innovative trails in one of the three grant areas: Visual Art, Music, and Cultural Education.

Supported by: Rocco Forte Hotels

Proud supporter of art and design, Rocco Forte Hotels has creativity and artistic heritage within the DNA of its design philosophy. Olga Polizzi’s creative approach to interior design, from handmade furniture to original artworks, can be seen and felt throughout all thirteen properties across Europe so that each hotel is utterly unique.

This exhibition has been made possible as a result of the Government Indemnity Scheme. The Design Museum would like to thank HM Government for providing Government Indemnity and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England for arranging the indemnity.


Surrealism & Design Now

Published to accompany the exhibition Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today, the publication celebrates Surrealism’s enduring legacy featuring groundbreaking fashion by Mary Katrantzou and Dior, as well as British designs by Tim Walker, Jonathan Trayte and Vince Fraser. Edited by Curator Kathryn Johnson and designed by Alexander Boxill Studio.

related events

Objects of Desire: After Hours

To celebrate our Objects of Desire exhibition, we present a special late opening exploring the legacies of Surrealism.

Fashion and Surrealism: Draping Masterclass

Immerse yourself in the world of Haute Couture through this dynamic one-day draping masterclass which focuses on the playful and often unexpected detailing of Surrealist fashion.

Surrealism and Design: From Dalí to AI

Join our 3-part online Surrealism Design History course. Find out how Surrealism, an art and literary movement that began in the 1920s, came to shape the designed world.

What's on

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Background image: Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone, 1938. Photo West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí.

Exhibition photography: Andy Stagg @studiostagg.