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Review: Unexpected Pleasures! Extraordinary stories!

Having not visited the Design Museum for quite a long period, I’m always surprised as to why I just don’t visit it more frequently. On this occasion it was the Unexpected pleasures: The art and design of contemporary jewellery exhibition, as well as the Extraordinary stories about ordinary things exhibition which I got to appreciate. The Unexpected pleasures exhibition featured a large space which hosted a plethora of objects from around the world which celebrate convention challenging designs of contemporary jewellers. These jewellery designs really were like no other and were exquisite works of art.


All the designs were nicely laid out, with the exhibition having a comfortable space which visitors were able to walk around at their own pace, ensuring each beautiful design wasn’t overlooked. The use of the dark displays created a mysterious ambiance and contrasted the vibrancy of the designs. This of course added to the obscure nature of the exhibition, emphasising the name Unexpected pleasures. The pieces which were particularly admirable were encased in glass cylinders, including a laminated design by Gijs Bakker, called Dew Drop, which adorns the wearer with a giant red rose.

Despite the exhibition being split up into sections, all the pieces merged together, however there was one section which stood out to me more than others, which was ‘Worn out.’ This focused on the experience of wearing jewellery: “jewellery will say where we belong in the world. It will express intent, adds detail to our daily rituals.” I really enjoyed this quote as I felt that it captures what contemporary jewellery represents.


After taking all of that in, then came the Extraordinary stories about ordinary things exhibition which was great! It felt like a quirky, very modern yet authentic house which contained a vast range of extraordinary and carefully designed objects. There was a warm homely feel to it, with it somehow also feeling spacious and well laid out. Similar to the previous exhibition, objects were grouped into sections with each section showcasing iconic designs that have shaped the modern world, including memorable objects such as the red telephone box, road signs and furniture pieces. A few of my favourite pieces were the strange and amusing Cartoon chair from 2007, the strong product design from the materials and processes section and then the couture Givenchy trouser suit which was designed by Alexander McQueen.


The exhibitions are amazing to see in themselves but I will admit that I always look forward to visiting the museum shops at the end, and the Design museum shop is one of the better ones out there, so I would say that’s a pretty good excuse to get yourself to the Design museum.

Unexpected Pleasures is exhibited at the Design Museum, London, until 3rd March 2013. Extraordinary stories about ordinary things is exhibited at the Design Museum, London, until 4th January 2015.

- Natalie Atterbury

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