Worth Visiting

Home Futures exhibition at the London Design Museum

The exhibition starts November 7, 2018 and lasts to March 24, 2019 at London’s Design Museum.

Twentieth-century prototypes are compared with the latest innovations in domestic living to question whether yesterday’s fantasies have become today’s reality

Organised in partnership with the IKEA Museum, the exhibition explores the radical domestic visions of the 20th century and asks: what happened to the future?

The exhibition includes important works by Ettore Sottsass, Joe Colombo, Superstudio, Archigram, Alison and Peter Smithson, Hans Hollein, Jan Kaplicky and Dunne & Raby

The ‘home of the future’ has long intrigued designers and popular culture alike. Bringing together avant-garde speculations with contemporary objects and new commissions, Home Futures explores today’s home through the prism of yesterday’s imagination. The exhibition asks: are we living in the way that pioneering architects and designers once predicted, or has our  idea of home proved resistant to real change?

This landmark exhibition features significant works by designers including Ettore Sottsass and Enzo Mari, as well as contemporary figures such as Dunne & Raby and Industrial Facility.

Through more than 150 objects and experiences Home Futures explores the key social and technological aspirations that have driven change in the home. Historical notions of the mechanised home and the compact home are displayed alongside contemporary phenomena such as connected devices and the sharing economy.

Rare works on display include original furniture from the Smithsons’ House of the Future (1956), original footage from the General Motors Kitchen of Tomorrow (1956), Home Environment by Ettore Sottsass (1972) and an original model of Total Furnishing Unit by Joe Colombo (1972), providing visitors with a thought provoking view of yesterday’s tomorrow.

All photos courtesy of the Design Museum

The exhibition is displayed within a specially commissioned immersive environment by New York-based architect SO-IL in collaboration with graphic design practice John Morgan Studio. The exhibition design features a translucent mesh which is used to create a series of dreamlike passages and rooms. The design evokes feelings of comfort and challenges the notions of privacy as the viewer explores the themes of the exhibition.

The exhibition has been created in partnership with IKEA Museum. After being on display in London, the exhibition will travel to Älmhult, Sweden in Spring 2019.

Exhibition themes Living smart

This section traces the modernist ideal of the ‘home as machine’ and pairs it

with the contemporary vision of the ‘smart home’. Exhibits include original works by the illustrator Heath Robinson, depicting comic household contraptions, and the model of Villa Arpel from Jacques Tati’s film Mon Oncle juxtaposed with a range of smart home devices and experiences.

Living on the move

In the 20th century visions of a fluid, nomadic way of life were often articulated as a critique of consumerism and ownership, proposing ‘a world without objects’. This section brings together nomadic visions from this era with contemporary examples of the sharing economy. Collages by Superstudio, illustrations by Archigram and a life-size prototype of Home Environment by Ettore Sottsass are displayed alongside a provocative film by Beka & Lemoine called Selling Dreams that explores one man’s life spent in hotel rooms.

Ugo La Pietra, Casatelematica

Living autonomously

This section explores self-reliant models of domestic life that are environmentally responsible and often anti-consumerist. Living self- sufficiently draws parallels between Enzo Mari’s Autoprogettazione (1974), a design guide to assembling furniture from basic materials using just a hammer and nails, and contemporary Open Source design. It features a newly commissioned series of modular furniture by Brussels-based design studio Open Structures.

Living with less

One recurring ideal of the 20th century was that housing shortages could be solved with fully fitted home units and micro-living solutions. Joe Colombo’s Total Furnishing Unit (1972), a multifunctional unit for every domestic need, is presented through original drawings and a model produced as part of the project’s design development. Contemporary examples of living with less include Gary Chang’s Hong Kong Transformer apartment (a micro- apartment with shifting walls), work by world-renowned design office Industrial Facility, and a newly commissioned study of minimal dwellings by the architect Pier Vittorio Aureli.

Living with others

This section explores the way in which we negotiate privacy in the home, and the impact of media on domestic behaviour, from the early Soviet dystopias of the total loss of privacy to the 1980s exploration of the role of telecommunications in the home. Key references include Sergei Eisenstein’s sketches for the Glass House, Ugo La Pietra’s Telematic House, Dunne & Raby’s Electro-Draught Excluder, Jurgen Bey’s Linen Cupboard House, and Superflux’s film Uninvited Guests.

Other dreams of home

This section questions the functional role of the home through dream-like, surreal visions that render this most intimate environment in novel and unfamiliar forms. Furniture and interiors from the Italian Radical Design movement by Pietro Derossi, Michele de Lucchi and Gaetano Pesce will be compared with contemporary speculative design by the Bouroullec brothers among others.

Cactus Drocco & Mello

The exhibition is curated by Eszter Steierhoffer with Justin McGuirk and will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

Lenders to the exhibition include Centraal Museum Utrecht, Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimonie, CNAP, CSAC Parma, Drawing Matter, Austrian Fredercik and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation, Gufram, Industrial Facility, Kaplicky Centre Foundation, M+, MAK, MUDE Lisbon, Poltronova, RGALI, Studio Joe Colombo, Ugo La Pietra Studio, the Victoria & Albert Museum and Zanotta – Italy.