London’s Design Museum launches ‘adopt an object’ campaign

The Design Museum in London has come up with a new way to raise funds, by asking members of the public to ‘adopt an object’ from the museum. 

The Design Museum was opened by Sir Terence Conran and Stephen Bayley at Shad Thames in east London in 1989, transforming it from its previous life as a banana ripening warehouse. 

Following a long search for larger premises to expand its activities, in 2008 the Design Museum selected the former Commonwealth Institute building in Kensington High Street, West London, as its new home.

This Grade II* listed building, which has been vacant for over a decade, will be transformed by a team led by leading architectural designer John Pawson, who will convert the interior of the building to create a new home for the Design Museum, giving it three times more space to show a wider range of exhibitions,

The museum recently left Shad Thames, and will reopen on Kensington High Street on November 24. The Design Museum is aiming to build the world’s leading museum devoted to architecture and design. It will encompass all elements of design, including fashion, product and graphic design.

Since it opened its doors in 1989, The Design Museum has displayed everything from an AK-47 to high heels designed by Christian Louboutin. It has staged over 100 exhibitions, welcomed over five million visitors, and showcased the work of some of the world’s most celebrated designers and architects including Paul Smith, Zaha Hadid, Jonathan Ive, Miuccia Prada, Frank Gehry, Eileen Gray and Dieter Rams.

Sir Terence Conran, founder and trustee of the Design Museum said: “Moving the Design Museum to Kensington is the most important moment of my long career in design so far. It will allow all our dreams and ambitions for the museum to come true, to create a world class space with the size and scope for the serious promotion and celebration of design and architecture in this country.”

The relocation will also bring the museum into Kensington’s cultural quarter in west London, where it will join the Royal College of Art, V&A, Science Museum, Natural History Museum and Serpentine Gallery.

The museum has been fundraising for six years to realise its ambition and needs the public’s help in the final fundraising push. It is hoping to raise over £200,000 towards the final £1 million needed.

The Adopt an Object campaign asks supporters to donate £5 for an object. In return they will receive a personalised thank you film showing their object being transported to the new site, as well as having their name displayed on the museum’s website, plus annual updates on the adopted object.

Twelve objects from the Design Museum collection are up for adoption: the Vespa Clubman, Phonosuper SK5, My First Sony, Valentine Typewriter, Anglepoise Lamp, Apple iMac G, Cartoon Chair, GPO Tele 150, Trabo Toaster, Louboutin Heels, Dyson G-Force – and the Alessi Kettle.

The 9091 whistling kettle by Richard Sapper was designed for Alessi in 1983. The company says it ‘combines concepts of ‘dream and play’ to produce an innovative, transitional and almost artistic object that has long been considered one of the most important creations in 20th century design’.

To donate or track the progress of the objects, visit the Design Museum’s ‘Adopt and Object’ site at


Alessi’s 9091 whistling kettle



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