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Innovation Advent Day 5 – Inspiring Design at the all-new Design Museum

baz5I was lucky enough to visit the new Design Museum with the rest of the Innovation team and The Great Think’s sponsor, Roger Bailey, on 24th November – its official launch day.  As well as being housed in an incredible redesign of the former Commonwealth Institute, its opening exhibitions were fantastically thought-provoking and well worth a visit.


Exterior of the Design Museum in London's South Kensington, designed by John Pawson.
Exterior of the Design Museum in London’s South Kensington, designed by John Pawson.











The most exciting part of the trip for me was the exhibition downstairs, which showcased the 70 nominees for the Design Museum’s ninth annual exhibition and awards programme, the Beazley Designs of the Year.

Celebrating the best design from all over the world over the last 12 months, the nominees span six different categories, including architecture; digital; fashion; graphics; product and transport.  The shortlisted designs feature everything from high profile ad campaigns like Apple’s Shot on iPhone 6, to innovative solutions to the refugee crisis, such as a flat-pack refugee shelter designed by the IKEA Foundation.

Blackstar album poster
Blackstar album poster

I won’t give too much away as I know Sophie is planning to take the Innovation Champions here for an end of year celebration on the 14th December, but one of my favourites was Jonathan Barnbrook’s graphic realisation for Bowie’s swansong album Blackstar.

The much-lauded and enigmatic design still has fans pondering its meaning some ten months after the album’s release.  It was also partly shortlisted for Barnbrook’s innovative approach to the project – using the open-source Unicode star symbol, allowing fans to share and interact with the artwork.

Another design – perhaps more pertinent to us – was the Smog Free Project, from Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde.  He and his team of experts have created the world’s largest smog vacuum cleaner. The Smog Free Tower uses patented ion technology to produce smog-free air in public space, allowing people to breathe and experience clean air for free.

smog-free-projectEquipped with environment-friendly and patented ozon free ion technology cleans 30.000m3 per hour without ozon, runs on green wind energy and uses no more electricity than a waterboiler (1170 watts).

Both Roger and Paul see an immediate potential to incorporate this technology into the ventilation shafts planned at various Tideway sites.

Not content with his tower design, Roosegaarde has also designed a selection of jewellery comprising of Smog Free Cubes – each one containing the equivalent of 1000m3 of clean air – and ensuring there is no waste product to the Smog Free Project.




These are just two out of the 70 nominees for Beazley’s Designs of the Year – do go and have a look.

The Design Museum, open 10:00 – 18:00 daily

224 – 238 Kensington High Street
London, W8 6AG

+44 20 3862 5900


4 Responses to “Innovation Advent Day 5 – Inspiring Design at the all-new Design Museum”

  1. Great post Charlotte. It’s really good to see that the Smog Free Project is nominated for a reward having recently been trialled in Bejing and is currently on tour around China with positive results being reported. It potentially offers a quick-win solution to provide improved air quality to residents in cities with some of the worst air quality on the planet. However, it’s worth noting that it only addresses particulate matter and, as such does not address other contributing pollutants such as NOx. Consequently, it’s important to combine the use of this type of end-use technology, with quicker uptake of innovative measures that reduce emissions from source, for a comprehensive long-term solution.

  2. Thanks Philip. The design of the Smog Free tower bears such a striking resemblance to our ventilating shafts it would be fantastic if this added function could somehow be incorporated – although as you say, alongside other measures working to reduce emissions from source.

  3. This product looks exciting and would be great to do some trials during the construction phase, which will hopefully help to inform a wider air quality strategy for London and our other main cities around the UK.

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