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Selling Freedom

Attendees joined the Design Museum for an evening panel discussion to explore how Californian design has created, and undermined, the pursuit of freedom.

What to expect

Networked objects and smart devices continue to spread exponentially, transforming the world as we know it. Inside today’s smart homes where fridges talk, and lighting, heating and music can be turned on via our phones, we are close to achieving ubiquitous connectivity. But what do we actually know about these connected products and the data they generate?

Relying on artificial intelligence, big data and inter-connectivity, the ethical and practical questions raised by these devices are vast and pressing. Just as they once promised to create a utopia of leisure, now they are more fraught with uncertainty than ever before.

Attendees joined the Design Museum to discuss the promised freedom of smart technologies: Do they liberate us to pursue what really matters, or do we become slaves to the machines we create?

Oculus Rift

Google Glass

Google Glass

Go Pro

Go Pro

Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard


Bethany Koby

Bethany is co-founder of Technology Will Save Us – an organisation dedicated to creating playful education experiences for kids and families using technology. In 2014 their DIY Gamer Kit was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art and later shortlisted for 2015 Designs of the Year. Their products are part of the Design Museum collection.

Tony Fadell

Tony Fadell is an active investor and entrepreneur. He is an inventor of the iPod and iPhone, and founder and former CEO of Nest, the company that pioneered the “Internet of things. In May 2016, TIME named Nest Thermostat, the iPod and iPhone as three of the 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time.

David Edgerton

David Edgerton is Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology in King’s College London. He is the author, of The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 (Profile, 2007) and numerous other works on how we do and should think about the elusive and confusing notion of ‘technology’.

Judy Wajcman

Judy Wajcman is the Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, and a Visiting Professor at the Oxford Internet Institute. She has published widely on the social relations of technology. Her recent books include Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism and The Sociology of Speed: Digital, Organization, and Social Temporalities.


Justin McGuirk

This event is chaired by the Design Museum’s Chief Curator, and co-Curator of the ‘California: Designing Freedom’ exhibition, Justin McGuirk.

Booking information

Adult £10, student/ concession £7.50, Members £9

For a five day priority booking period Members have access to a limited number of tickets that are available at a 10% discount before tickets go on general release.

Other talks


“Designed in California” is the new “Made in Italy”. While California’s mid-century modernism is well documented, this is the first exhibition to examine its current global reach.