Free display

The Making of the Design Museum

A free temporary display in the Design Museum's atrium mezzanine level.

In 2012, photographer Koto Bolofo was invited to document the conversion of the former Commonwealth Institute into the new Design Museum. London-based Bolofo, renowned for his bold fashion photography, had never embarked on a photographic study of a building.

Over four years, Bolofo visited the site 40 times. The 15 photographs on display represent 15 days in the building’s transformation. Bolofo captured the painstaking process of propping up the roof while the structure beneath was replaced. Shooting on film, he focused on rhythm, shadows and the textures of the materials. The photographs convey the drama of this transformation, while taking pleasure in incidental details.

Gradually, a modernist icon designed in 1962 became the building you see today, with the original concrete roof as its dramatic centerpiece. Bolofo’s photographs are a record of the building’s complicated history and a reminder of how, through design, a structure that seemed to have lost its purpose can be brought back to life.

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Explore the Design Museum's exhibitions; California: Designing Freedom, Designer Maker User and Cartier in Motion.

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