Design Museum, London
From the shocking secrets of dating apps to 3D death masks and the meet'n'greet robot, this is a fun ramble through the zeitgeist (but don't worry, there are still floor lamps)
“How do you open a new Design Museum?” asks Justin McGuirk, the journalist-turned-curator given that very challenge, being responsible for the inaugural show in the London institution's new Kensington home. It's a tough question at a time when “design” no longer means the world of desirable objects that fill the pages of Sunday supplements, but has expanded to encompass everything from digital networks to artificial organs, extending its slippery tentacles into every field imaginable – and inventing new ones that don't yet exist.
When the Design Museum first opened in a former banana warehouse in Shad Thames in 1989, the world was a simpler place. The institution was the brainchild of Terence Conran, then proprietor of Habitat, who had made a career out of elevating design from an activity to a commodity. The museum was a sort of extension of his commercial empire, intended to educate the public about “good design”, about nice things that you, as a refined consumer, might one day aspire to own.