Designing freedom Book now


“Designed in California” is the new “Made in Italy”. While California’s mid-century modernism is well documented, this is the first exhibition to examine its current global reach. Picking up the story in the 1960s, the exhibition charts the journey from the counterculture to Silicon Valley’s tech culture.

About the exhibition

How did California come to have such a powerful influence on contemporary design? California: Designing Freedom, an exhibition opening at the Design Museum, London, on 24 May 2017, explores how the ideals of the 1960s counterculture morphed into the tech culture of Silicon Valley, and how ‘Designed in California’ became a global phenomenon.

The central premise is that California has pioneered tools of personal liberation, from LSD to surfboards and iPhones. This ambitious survey brings together political posters and portable devices, but also looks beyond hardware to explore how user interface designers in the San Francisco Bay Area are shaping some of our most common daily experiences. By turns empowering, addictive and troubling, Californian products have affected our lives to such an extent that in some ways we are all now Californians.

Image credit | luke Hayes

Image credit | luke Hayes

Image credit | luke Hayes

Image credit | luke Hayes

Image credit | luke Hayes

Image credit | luke Hayes

Image credit | luke Hayes

Image credit | luke Hayes

Image credit | luke Hayes

Image credit | luke Hayes

Image credit | luke Hayes

Snapchat glasses courtesy of Snap Inc.

Easy Rider

Erik Adigard, Wired

Icon for the Apple Mac, 1984, Susan Kare notebook, courtesy of

Black Panther poster, Emory Douglas, Afro-American Solidarity with the oppressed people of the world

LA Olympics

Booklets EC3 - 2

Patent drawing for the geodesic dome courtesy of The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller/Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio

Booking information

Adult £16
Student/ concession £12
Educational group booking price: £3-£7 per student (groups of 10 or more)
Family (1 adult + 3 children) £24
Family (2 adults + 3 children) £36
Child (6 - 15 years) £8
Children under 6 years free
Members free

10% discount is applied when booking 10 or more tickets online. Alternatively, please contact the Bookings Office (Mon - Fri 10;00 to 17:00) on +44 20 3862 5937 or +44 20 3862 5900.

Become a member for unlimited free entry to all exhibitions.

*Concession tickets include seniors (over 60 years), the disabled and job seekers.

Warning: Contains mature content

What are people saying

"With some 300 items on display, there are plenty of unusual artefacts to relish" - The Times ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"A slice of California cool" "This show gets a thumbs up from us" - The Londonist ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"If you're heading to London, check out California: Designing Freedom at the Design Museum" - Vogue

"The exhibition design begins with a shining sun and presents the story in an open, airy way. Colours are optimistic ice-cream pink, primrose yellow and baby blue" - Evening Standard

"From functional to fantastical, you're left wondering whether technology has really liberated us, or made us slaves to the machines" - Wallpaper

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Background image: Illustration by Barnbrook