Monday 29 September 2014

Whither the design museum

Behind the Financial Times registration wall (hand over an email address and some "details" for access), a lengthy article about the history of design museums (starting with the didactic impulse behind the first, the V&A) and their current status, as directors and curators deal with the digital age and the sense that design might actually be in and of everything.

[V&A director Martin] Roth is animated about the future of the museum. “There are three issues facing a design museum today,” he says. “First is the question of how you avoid it looking like a furniture store; how is it different to a typical bourgeois living room? Second is the problem of the inflation of design. Is it craft or is it a philosophy? Or is it lifestyle? Is everything digital part of design? Design isn’t everything and the perception that it is, is confusing and damaging to the museum. And third . . .” 
He pauses, I’m not sure whether for dramatic effect or if he’s considering if he should tell me this, “ . . . is the quality of contemporary art – which is 95 per cent rubbish.” 
I raise my eyebrows over my coffee cup. “The hyper-currency of art, the plutocrats’ purchases, these things corrupt the relationship between art and design at the same institution. They affect the future of the design museum and I worry that as contemporary art runs out of ideas it will need fresh blood . . .” He makes a theatrical sucking noise “ . . . and they will come to design.”

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