Moments in history designers would like to see recreated in exhibition form

Last week, we visited the Design Museum’s latest exhibition, which explores Soviet Russia. Now, from the Elizabethan era to modernist early-20th century, designers tell us what time period they would love to see brought to life in a museum space.

Pippa Nissen, director, Nissen Richards Studio

“I’ve always had a bit of a thing for 1890s Paris and its explosion of culture, including symbolist art, flâneurs, the birth of cubism and art nouveau. Lots of my favourite references are from this time, and it would be completely inspiring to see everything brought together. Joris-Karl Huysmans’ novel Against Nature was a key text for me when I was studying – the main character Jean des Esseintes recreates the world outside as a series of indulgent experiences in his villa. If I was designing the exhibition, I would design immersive spaces made up of twisted plants and trees creating rooms and architecture. Objects and artworks could flow out of this background in a dream-like haze.”


Sam Withers, project designer and studio manager, Mather and Co

“A period often defined by its major historical events – the Great War, women’s fight for rights and the Irish Revolution – the post-Edwardian era following 1910 was also a time of dramatic social and technological change, not unlike the times we are living in now.

It is instantly comparable to today with the introduction of modern technologies such as the motorcar, telephone and electricity. But perhaps more poignant was the rise of strong political movements, the response to economic challenges and the introduction of new money.

Would an exhibition about the aptly-named era of modernism dispel the myth that museums are about the past, and bring content bang up-to-date by drawing parallels to the changing world that we live in today?”


Holly Gramazio, game designer, Matheson Marcault

“I’d love to see an exhibition that looks at London in the 1500s and 1600s through the lens of its games. There were so many different types of play going on – apparently Pall Mall was built as somewhere to play Pallamaglio, which is a bit like croquet – and it still has the long straight shape and the name to prove it. But there was also a lot of agitation against play – kings were constantly issuing laws against dice or cards! It’d be great to see something that looks at why, and what role games and play fulfilled for different people.”


Angela Drinkall, partner, Drinkall Dean

“I am intrigued by the fashion and style captured in early 13th and 14th century paintings at The National Gallery. The clothing is sometimes bizarre, the shoes in particular. I would be fascinated to see a dissection of these works explaining the lifestyle and times, the people and places. I see pictures like this as photographs – they are time capsules. I would love to know the story of the makers, and craftspeople. But I’d also like to add The Walker Gallery’s Portrait of Elizabeth I. The dress is reputed to have cost millions in today’s money. I want to know more!”


What era would you like to see recreated in an exhibition? Let us know in the comments section below.

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