The design museum has had an ambition to move to its current home in central london on kensington highstree since 2008 and what a building it is. As statements of purpose go it takes the business of designing itself really seriously, the vast open atrium space is an object lesson in contemporary post modernist minimalism, wood is everywhere sharply contrasting with the existing concrete shell of the old commonwealth institute building, its a great space, amazing what you can do with £84 million.
The permanent exhibition covers key product design over the past century or so, Sony Walkmans, Sinclair Spectrums, typography of road signs, bromptons and various classic examples of furniture all have their place but if I had one criticism it felt like a little bit of a sideshow to the other functions of the building which left me wondering what the purpose of this really was... That was until I went to look at the paid-for exhibitions.
When I was growing up I watched the show Miami Vice so thought the Ferrari Testarossa (Which I learn't means "red top", what a language Italian is that it can make that sound cool) was the coolest car in the world... I later realised that's not true because the coolest car in the world was at the time also the fastest and that car was the Ferrari F40. I've never seen a Ferrari F40 in the Metal and carbon fibre before, its much smaller than the Testarossa, its lean, focused and appears to me to be totally true to its purpose (going fast, very, very fast in the most efficient way possible) the epitome of good design and in good company with many of the curated objects in the museum.
The exhibition was not all "80's boyhood fantasy" stuff though, there is also an exploration of the history of Ferrari set in contrast of its design history, as you progress through you find the engineering drawings and they are amazing, before Computer Aided Design there we draftsmen in offices with paper, pencils, drawing-boards and slide-rules all artifacts of another age, mysterious tools of the ancients. Further in there are other examples of classic Ferrari designs, films of designers and engineers explaining the process of designing the modern Ferrari.
I'll probably never own a Ferrari but I can appreciate them because as a piece of functional art they are each and every one masterpieces and a wonderful things to behold, we are so lucky to live in a world with such things.