I was hoping for an education in the contribution of good design to the ease of modern living. What I got for my £7 was what design gurus would hail as landmarks or classics – chairs not designed for humans to sit in, and an aeroplane that wasn’t even designed to fly. The Design Museum is so up itself as to be almost inaccessible to ordinary members of the public. Indeed, the other visitors were mostly themselves design victims – their spiky haircuts and angular black-framed glasses made them dead ringers for the two much-ridiculed luvvies of the It’s Grim Up North London cartoon in Private Eye.
It’s little wonder that James Dyson resigned as chairman of the museum’s board of trustees after a few months, saying that it had become a ‘style showcase’, when it should be ‘upholding its mission to encourage serious design of the manufactured object’.
If you’re in London and you want to see stylish contemporary design with functionality in mind, my advice is to stick to the top end of Tottenham Court Road. You’ll find Habitat and Purves & Purves don’t charge admission, the seating’s very comfortable and they’re not full of nerds.
This article was originally developed for Britain’s Most Disappointing Tourist Attractions in the G2 section of The Guardian.