Gallery 1

California: Designing Freedom

“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.

From Monday 21 to Monday 28 August inclusive, tickets to the exhibition are 2 for 1. Click the BOOK NOW button and the offer will automatically be applied to your basket.

#California

About the exhibition

How did California come to have such a powerful influence on contemporary design? California: Designing Freedom 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.

"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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"A hugely ambitious celebration of the world’s design capital...a must-see" - City AM ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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.

Exhibition guided tour by an expert Museum tour guide

Saturday 26 August, 14.00-15.00

60 minute tour of the exhibition with a curator-trained and experienced Design Museum tour guide

£9 plus exhibition ticket

Open to individuals or groups, further enquiries to bookings@designmuseum.org

Members, please contact the bookings office to purchase a ticket +44 (0)20 3862 5937

Meet the guide at the Atrium steps 5 minutes before tour start time

Explore the exhibition

GO WHERE YOU WANT

This section of the exhibition resolves around freedom of movement and focuses on mobility, from navigation to portability and exploration.

SEE WHAT YOU WANT

This section explores how California has pioneered new ways of looking at the world, from acid trips to virtual reality.

SAY WHAT YOU WANT

California has its own history of enabling freedom of expression, from new graphic languages to social media. This section explores the state’s culture of communication through posters, magazines and online platforms.

MAKE WHAT YOU WANT

Perhaps no place has done more to democratize access to industrial technology than California. This section features tools that have made ‘making’ easier and more accessible,

JOIN WHO YOU WANT

From hippy communes to Facebook, this section examines tools that enable communities both on the ground and online.

Competition

To celebrate the California: Designing Freedom exhibition, The Design Museum has teamed up with Visit California and Elegant Resorts to offer a once in a lifetime holiday to California. Find out more about the competition and how to enter.

Podcast

Free display

Environmental Communications: Seeing Los Angeles in the 1970s

Date: Coming soon, located in the Atrium

Sprawling and reliant on the car, Los Angeles was never considered an ideal city. But in the early 1970s it started to be appreciated as a city of signs and pop-up buildings – a city to be consumed from behind the wheel of a car. In 1969, a group called Environmental Communications started to document the unique culture of Los Angeles in the name of architectural education.

This free display in the museum’s atrium explores how a collective of architects and photographers started to document the unique changing culture of Los Angeles in the 1970s in the name of architectural education.

Credit: Beverly Hills intersection 1972, courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: The Good Year Blimp 1971, courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: Drive-in theatre. courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: Neon arch, courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: Photo by Roger Webster 1971, courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: Drucilla custom corvet, courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: Mac Juice billboard 1973, courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: Big Mama 1974, courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: LV Billboard, courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: The Isle of California 1972, courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: Pop architectural structure of dinosaur 1973, courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: Original McDonald’s 1971, courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: 76 sign, courtesy of Environmental Communications

Credit: Zappa billboard, courtesy of Environmental Communications

In conversation with

Justin McGuirk, Chief Curator of the Design Museum speaks to Google's Head of Design, Matias Duarte about California's contribution to technology and innovation.

Shop online

Related talks

Communicating in a Post-Verbal World

How are Snapchat, Instagram and the emoji affecting the way we communicate? This talk investigates…

What is Freedom? Cultural Salon

What does it mean to be free? The event gives you the opportunity to discuss and explore freedom with cutting edge thinkers of our time: philosophers, designers, artists and scientists.