It was a heck of a party. The beautiful people of London, helped no doubt by the support of Vogue and Swarowski and their contact books, came out in force to celebrate the launch of the new Design Museum.
Jarvis Cocker was DJ-ing, the paparazzi were lined up outside and, within, Government ministers mixed with models, TV stars and the super rich. The Design Museum has moved from Shad Thames to the upscale streets of Kensington – and it showed.
Meanwhile, bemused designers looked on starry-eyed. ‘All this for us’? they seemed to be saying as they stared up at their spectacular new ‘home’.
Compared to some of our other creative industries, design (in some disciplines) has felt itself undervalued and underappreciated. But the Design Museum’s launch party was testament to its pulling power. It might sound superficial, but the ability to attract such a crowd of business and political leaders as well as influential cultural figures is an important endorsement of design’s stature. As is delivery of an £83m project with all the corporate fundraising that entails. Such sponsors do not sign away their cash without being convinced of the value of what they are supporting.
What will the new Design Museum achieve for the industry? Of course we hope for a greater understanding of what design can do and its potential to make positive change in the world, a leading role in exploring the boundaries of design thinking and practice, and the ability to inspire the next generation of designers. But in order to make change you need power, influence, clout.
Talking to some of those present last night, it was clear that the museum has already given the industry something invaluable: confidence.