MA Curating Contemporary Design

The collaboration between Kingston University and the Design Museum has grown into one of the world’s foremost MA programmes for design curators.

The course is taught by leading curators and designers and engages critically and creatively with our fast-changing, complex world. On this course you will have the opportunity to curate live projects and build your own professional profiles, through projects at the Design Museum and with institutions such as the Architectural Association, British Council, Gallery Fumi, National Trust and the Royal Academy of Arts. Led by both research and practice, this course has taught aspiring curators for more than fifteen years.

Key Features

Expert Training

A unique partnership with the Design Museum, London whose staff teach into the course and lead live projects. You will gain practical skills to enable you to curate design exhibitions, collection displays, learning and public programmes. You will learn how to research concepts for exhibitions, select exhibits and develop approaches to interpretation. This practical learning is complemented by a historical and theoretical framework, interrogating the object, collection and display of design in museums and the expanded field.

Live Projects

With partners such as the Architectural Association, British Council, Gallery Fumi, National Trust and the Royal Academy of Arts. The project briefs can be speculative or address real world issues. You will develop practical skills in research, analysis, experimentation, communication and presentation.

Interdisciplinary Study

Collaborative projects with other courses at Kingston School of Art fostering transdisciplinary understanding and close contact with emerging artists, designers and architects.

Spaces for Experimentation

Stanley Picker Gallery and Dorich House Museum as part of the university provide unique spaces for experimentation with curatorial formats, media and techniques.

Creative Practice

Numerous state-of-the-art workshops at Kingston School of Art invite all students to understand their field as creative practice. The Major Project will give you an opportunity to work independently, creating a body of work to showcase your originality and creativity in the field of design curation. It will support your professional practice and has the potential to be developed for research at higher degree level.

Access to an International Network of Curators and Designers

A programme of guest lectures; an international study trip; curating visits to exhibitions, studios and other sites of design and curatorial practice in London provide opportunities to hear curators and designers reflect on their practice in the context of their own spaces.

Our Graduates

Our graduates have pursued successful careers in museums, galleries and cultural organisations around the world. The course has developed an extensive international network of curators that include:

  • Sarah Mann: Director of Architecture Design Fashion, the British Council, London.

  • Catherine Ince: Chief Curator, V&A East, London.

  • Sumitra Upham: Public Programme Curator, the Design Museum, London.

  • Nina Due: Director, the Röhsska Museum, Gothenburg.

  • Keinton Butler: Senior Curator of Design and Architecture, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), Sydney.

  • Raphael Chikukwa: Chief Curator, National Gallery, Zimbabwe.

  • Ning Li: Deputy Director of the Collection department, the China Art Museum, Shanghai.

  • Eunjoo Maing: Director/ Head of D-TEC Academy and International Affairs, the Korea Institute of Design Promotion and Regional Advisor, World Design Organisation.

Open Days

Find out more about MA Curating Contemporary Design by attending one of our Open Days at Kingston School of Art or one of our course specific Open Days at the Design Museum. The Open Days are an opportunity for you to meet academic staff and discover more about the course. You will be able to speak with the course directors, have a chance to join a teaching session and view current exhibitions at the Design Museum.

The next Open Day at Kingston School of Art will take place on Wednesday 6 March 2019 at 6.30pm https://www.kingston.ac.uk/postgraduate/open-evenings/.

The next course specific Open Day at the Design Museum will take place on Tuesday 12 March 2019. Further information about the programme can be found by downloading the PDF below.

To register your attendance, please contact Donna Loveday at the Design Museum: donna.loveday@designmuseum.org.

For more information or to apply for September 2019, visit: Kingston University website.

Follow the course on Instagram: @curatingdesign

BLOG: Course Highlights 2017-18

Graduate Show: Re-Considering Canon

CCD students curated an exhibition and half-day symposium at the Design Museum as part of London Design Festival in September 2018. The year-long research project enabled students to work directly with renowned Gallery Fumi and commission some of their established designers, amongst them Max Lamb and Studio Glithero. The exhibition, Re-Considering Canon, interrogated concepts of canon as a device for writing design history and explored its significance for contemporary designers and curators. Students were involved in all aspects of the curating process including concept development, exhibition and graphic design, interpretation and installation of the exhibition on the top floor of the Design Museum. The symposium questioned current curatorial and design practice, and addressed fields of concerns and the need for urgent extension.

Find out more

Curated Dinner

A curating project initiated in 2016 with design consultant and curator, Jane Withers, explored water as resource and the impact of pollution as a consequential effect of current habits of consumption. The project encouraged research, networking, collaboration, analysis, campaigning and public debate. One group of CCD students initiated a Curated Dinner at the Stanley Picker Gallery to use the intimate format for meaningful discussion and to promote action for change. The conceptual dinner took the form of a performance set in a dystopian future where plastic has caused detrimental environmental damage. The students were later invited to re-stage the event at the Brompton Design District during London Design Festival in 2017. The project also stimulated a research project, Tables: A School of Expanded Formats initiated in connection with the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, ‘A School of Schools’ in 2018-19. This project - which commissioned the former students as curators - aims to interrogate informal spaces of learning by testing a curatorial format as teaching tool.

MA CCD at Clerkenwell Design Week

Students were invited by leading furniture company, Arper UK, to explore the values ascribed to design installations during Clerkenwell Design Week in May 2018. Taking Arper’s core designs concepts as a starting point, students occupied the Bloggers Lounge at the Arper showroom in London during Clerkenwell Design Week. They carried out a series of interviews with visitors to the Lounge. Their aim was to evaluate the significance of these values in the practice of design professionals. Their findings informed an article that was published on the Arper and Design Museum websites.

Find out more

Walking the City: A research project with the Design Museum Public Programme team

The Design Museum’s adult learning programme is a multi-disciplinary platform for the exploration of contemporary design, theory and architecture. A project brief was set by Bernard Hay, Producer for Adult Learning at the Design Museum. The project foregrounded walking as a pedagogical and curatorial tool for framing contemporary design and architecture in the city. Working in groups, students developed proposals for a series of walks that identified one design ‘issue’ to inform their proposal and one ‘approach’ to the practice of walking.

Annual Study Visit: Lisbon

In June 2018 CCD students travelled to Lisbon to engage with design museums, galleries and collections in the city. A full programme of visits and curator-led tours included the exhibition, Eco-Visionaries - Art and Architecture after the Anthropocene at MAAT; the Calouste Gulbenkian Art Library, Portugal’s foremost library dedicated to the arts, architecture and design and a visit to the studio of art director, designer and curator, Jorge Silva. The programme also included a visit to the headquarters of the Lisbon Architecture Triennial where students were introduced to the Triennial’s work, curatorial process and the 2019 edition by the Triennial’s communication director. In past years CCD study trips have included Amsterdam, Berlin and New York. The course team are currently planning the 2019 study trip to Milan.