Home Futures at the Design Museum

The Design Museum's brilliant new exhibition, Home Futures, investigates the way interior designers and architectures have envisaged the future of house design. Peter Gray reports.

Home Futures at the Design Museum

As a wide eyed child growing up in the 1970s, I remember watching the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World and boggling at some of the breathtaking technology that was being dreamt up. At that age, the future seemed impossibly bold, brave, smart, and it must be said, silver. People of the future would wear clothes made of tin foil, sleep in pods, drive flying cars, and live in ergonomically innovative spaces that looked like giant silver cubes.

Fast forward fifty years and the future is here, albeit that it actually looks quite a lot like the past. For one thing, we still sleep in beds. The pod idea has obviously been quietly shelved and the bed has continued its unrivalled dominance of our sleeping quarters.

The flying cars on the other hand are definitely coming but we’ve got a way to go yet, even though sucessful prototypes are now in existence. However, when it comes to how we live, despite the fact that  technology has had a growing influence on our lives, our living spaces themselves bear more in common with the way we lived in the seventies than they do with any seventies vision of the future.

It’s quite a good moment then for the Design Museum today’s homes from the perspective of yesterday’s ideas of the future. Home Future is a fun, engrossing and illuminating trip through a century of interior design and interior planning.

Some of the visions of the future presented along the way are quite delightfully batty – take the Alison and Smithson House of the future with its dining table rising out of the floor.

Or Hollein’s proposal for an inflatable, portable office which took the form of a transparent bubble. Hollein argued that it would allow for a more nomadic lifestyle but many were unconvinced.

The exhibition features designs for mobile kitchens, showers and lavatories, houses without any straight lines or right angles, totally transparent houses and a house dominated by screens.

Another section of the exhibition details the vogue for inflatable furniture and house fixtures. The idea of the lightweight house gained great popular and scientific appeal in the early seventies, with many progressive artists thinking that it was only a matter of time before humans inhabited edifices that could be moved freely. These homes of the future would be lightweight and portable, able to be deflated or inflated with a simple air pump.

What becomes quite clear in viewing the exhibition is how little of what we see has actually come to pass. The future home (i.e. now) has remained quite stubbornly resistant to wholesale change and in some cases global trends (four posters, hobs) seem to be attempting to take us back to some idealised vision of the past. So, what will the future of the home bring? As with most things in our society, nothing can be taken for granted.

The Home Futures exhibition is at the Design Museum until the 24th of March 2019.

For more information about the Home Futures exhibition, please click here.
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Until 24th March 2019

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