The Design Museum is set to move from its current Bermondsey home to the former Commonwealth Institute in Holland Park in 2016 and aims to more than double its visitor numbers to 650 000 in the first year.
Following the announcement, we spoke to the Chancellor and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey about the Design Museum and wider Government support for the design sector.
Design Week: Why do you think it is so important to allow the public free access to the Design Museum?
George Osborne: It all comes back to what Terence Conran was trying to do when he originally set up the Design Museum – to create a home for British design in London. That has been a success and with this move we hope to make it an even bigger success.
I wanted to back the Design Museum by giving it a Treasury VAT cut, to allow people the opportunity to visit for free. It will have half a million visitors in the first year. It’s a great opportunity for a whole range of people to see British design, and also to recognise the importance of design to our country both culturally and economically – celebrating figures such as Conran, James Dyson and Jony Ive.
DW: You mention design’s economic importance – what is Government doing to ensure that design can continue to contribute to the British economy?
GO: It’s a very diverse sector with diverse issues – there isn’t a single instrument you can use to tackle them. We’ve been able to support design and the creative industries through various mechanisms such as tax credits and initiatives such as this one with the Design Museum. We also want to make sure that design is a part of the learning environment – we want to recognise that Britain has a particular talent for design.
Ed Vaizey: Obviously you’ve got the Design Council under John Mathers doing great work and we’ve also established the Creative Industries Council to work in this sector – this is looking at areas such as skills and access to funding. We want to raise the profile of the creative industries and the Design Museum itself is an excellent showcase.
I go into a lot of schools and I stress the importance of studying design – you can hold up an iPhone and say – this was done by a British designer, so if you study design you could be doing this!