Dylan Jones: 'The Design Museum’s move, in 2014, to the Commonwealth Institute, comes not a minute too soon'

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The Independent Online

As the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have withdrawn 65 per cent of the Design Museum's funding over the next four years, some may have feared that plans for the museum to move from its Tower Bridge home to the Commonwealth Institute may have been scuppered. But not a bit of it. The DCMS money only represents 10 per cent of the museum's annual budget, and it will still receive £900,000 over the next four years (rather than £1.4m).

The interior of the museum's new listed home will be converted by John Pawson, while the surrounding area will be designed by Rem Koolhaas, one of the world's few genuine superstar architects. The whole project will be finished by 2014 – frankly, not a minute too soon.

Even though the museum has been consistently well-curated – the current director Deyan Sudjic is doing a sterling job – it's often been said that it's too small to function properly. Indeed, I've seen dozens of shows there, but nearly all of them would have been improved by having more floor space.

The current show is one of the museum's very best. It features the work of the aforementioned John Pawson, the king of modernism and the clean flat surface (Pawson famously hates clutter, and has banished brightly coloured plastic toys, kettles and ironing boards from his own home). The exhibition has huge photographs of his work, a cleverly constructed time-line, videos, a brilliantly conceived room full of architectural models of his work, and even a large room where you can sit and soak up the Pawson aesthetic.

The show includes some of his most important projects, including the Cistercian Monastery of Our Lady of Novy Dvur in the Czech Republic, the Sackler Crossing at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Calvin Klein store on Madison Avenue in New York. And it is really rather wonderful.

Both my daughters were smitten by Pawson's work, and as we were leaving they both grandly said they'd like him to design their homes when they grow up. If you feel the same way, but haven't made it to the show, it lasts until 30 January.



Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

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