California: Designing Freedom at the Design Museum


The California: Designing Freedom exhibition at London’s Design Museum takes a look at America’s most populous state and its most popular contributions to design.

A recent shindig hosted by Visit California presented a golden opportunity to head over to the Design Museum (for my first time since it moved from Shad Thames to its gorgeously mid century modern digs at the Commonwealth Institute at Holland Park) and to have a gander at the museum’s Designing Freedom exhibition.

The key theme of the show is that California has “pioneered tools of personal liberation” and examines how since the 1960s those tools have shaped today’s society in the States and globally.

Skateboards, Mickey Mouse, the Black Panther Party, the rainbow flag, the iPhone, emojis, and a whole lot more – the exhibition certainly has a point. Indeed, the show hits home effectively with its message that so much of what people consider to be “American Made” and representative of broader American culture is actually “Designed in California” with distinct origins within particular subcultures or in specific areas of the state.

I had a blast checking out Designing Freedom and recommend it to pretty much anyone interested in contemporary design and pop culture. Odds are when you go, you’ll be wearing something or have something in your pocket that was designed in the Golden State.

California: Designing Freedom runs until 17 October 2017. Adult tickets cost £16; student, group, children and other concessions are available. The Design Museum is located at 224-238 Kensington High Street, W8 6AG. Find out more at

About tikichris

Chris Osburn is the founder, administrator and editor of tikichris. In addition to blogging, he works as a freelance journalist, photographer, consultant and curator.
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