The Future Is Here: Design Museum’s latest exhibition is already in the past

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The Future Is Here exhibition: excellent for the layman, not for those already jaded by the media hype surrounding 3D printing

The world hurtles along at a thunderous pace, so it’s no surprise that an exhibition of ‘futuristic’ products, tools and ideas is already rather dated.

For anyone that has an inkling about design technology already, none of it will come as any great revelation; yet the Design Museum is doing what it does best: unveiling the closeted world of design to the greater masses.

The Future is Here exhibition will hopefully inspire and educate the wider public, school parties and the like, with the intrepid progress of design technology.
There’s no harm in people crowding around the MakerBot Replicator2 or FormLab Form1 in an interested throng, or pressed up against the glass cabinet watching two orange Kuka robots assembling bits of wood.

Frustratingly, current mainstream media trends mean exhibits of 3D printed lampshades or MakieLabs dolls are guaranteed to stir more excitement than the equally exciting portable CNC routing machines, or how Tesla’s factory operates.

Furthermore, there was little context in which to put this current crop of exhibits, especially as to what it all might lead to.

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One exhibition tagline reads: “The exhibition explores how the boundaries between designer, manufacturer and consumer are becoming increasingly blurred,” yet it offers little idea on how to bridge this shrinking gap between thought and manufacture. The use of CAD is almost non-evident, with little explanation on how the tools link with current or future workflows.

Having spent last week at the UK Additive Manufacturing Conference and learning how companies are developing 3D printing tools, and how the future is shaping up, in our opinion it would have been even better to have something to show the bigger geographical changes that this could pose in the coming decades.

Yet letting people know about tools, materials, and how the world has changed since the Great Industrial Revolution (I’m coining the term, seeing as people – including the Design Museum – won’t stop calling this the New Industrial Revolution) is an excellent way to bring about a realisation of how things around us are made.

To be too harsh to this lovingly set-out exhibition would be wrong; it is genuinely entertaining, and to the layman it will provide an enchanting and fascinating gateway drug to all things design and technology.

NB. The excellent Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things exhibition is still running at the museum, and is worth a look all on its own!


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