'Extraordinary Stories about Ordinary Things' at the Design Museum

'Extraordinary Stories about Ordinary Things' at the Design Museum

Posted 18 February 2013 by Donna Creek

The Design Museum are currently exhibiting some of the most iconic designs that have made an impact in our world, the objects on display are from the Design Museum’s collection. There are around 150 objects on show which are divided in to six sections that explore design across fashion, architecture, transport, furniture, product and a selection of prototypes.

As you walk around you’ll come across the first typography and signage used for the London Underground and first draft drawings of the Anglepoise lamp. I was particularly drawn to the objects that were made from different materials and different uses of plastic within design.

An object that caught my eye was the TV designed by Philipe Starck. There has been speculation around Philippe Starck and Apple to collaborate on the Apple TV, some may find that questionable but it isn’t completely unreasonable as Starck has made one before – Jim Nature TV designed by Starck and produced by Thompson Consumer Electronics for Saba. The television set was the first high profile design to question the use of plastic, traditionally in the 80’s TV’s were made from black plastic, as were CD players and VCR machines. Starck opted for a more eco-friendly design made from moulded resin-impregnated sawdust and wood powder.

 Design: Philippe Starck – Jim Nature TV 


Quite possibly the most iconic design at the collection, for my generation at least, is the iMac G3. This was the first assignment designed by Jonthan Ive, originally released in ‘bondi blue’  – the design was quite revolutionary as computers in the past had always been grey or black, Apple went on to introduce a range of vibrant colours, made from polycarbonate plastic which can be easily shaped without problems like cracking or splitting, resulting in extremely lightweight and distortion-free.

Design: Jonathan Ive – iMac G3 – 1998-9



The exhibition went on to show objects made from recycled materials such as plastics which came to light in the 80’s, when the idea of recycling plastics grew, by 1988 the coding of plastics was introduced which made it easier to seperate different plastics for recycling. The government was keen to encourage recycling plastics and this made an impact on the designers approach to using the material. “After 150 years plastic has now become a material understood to have a value of it’s own.”

Design: Jane Atfield – RCP2 child’s chair

Furniture designer Jane Atfield is a prime example of a designer that has taken recycling on board, her RCP2 chair is on display, this is made “entirely of recycled plastic bottles that once contained shampoo, washing-up liquid or suntan lotion. The bottles were collected in community collection points, cleaned and chipped. The board was made by pressing and heating the plastic chips so they bonded together, and you can still see the different colours of the bottles and even fragments of printing on the chair.”

Also on show is a beautiful light designed by Issey Miyake made entirely from recycled materials, a re-treated fibre made using PET bottles.

To see what else the Design Museum is exhibiting, head on down and take a look, it runs from January 2013 and will be on permanent display until 2015, with some elements being changed every year.