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useful + beautiful: contemporary design for the home

Tuesday 29 April – Monday 25 August 2014

£5/£3 concessions

Tip-Ton chair by Barber Osgerby
Tip Ton chair by Barber Osgerby

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  William Morris

Design influences the look of our homes and how we live in them. This special exhibition showcases innovation and creativity in domestic design from London and beyond, highlighting how designers respond to issues such as efficiency, sustainability, durability, usefulness and beauty. It will give a glimpse of what’s new and what we might expect to have in our homes in the future.

Useful + beautiful brings together recent work by both fresh new talents and well-established industry figures such as Jasper Morrison, Tord Boontje, Barber Osgerby, Doshi Levien and Tomoko Azumi. A broad range of domestic products, from furniture to wallpaper, lighting to homewares will be on show, spilling out into the museum’s gardens with a display of inventive garden furniture design. An element of interactivity will run throughout the show, and visitors will have the opportunity to try out some of the objects for themselves.

On show will be a mix of mass produced, batch produced, handmade, and experimental pieces. Examples include the Rising Chair by Robert van Embricqs, which literally ‘rises up’ from a flat sheet to become a three-dimensional seat; the Credenza O sideboard by JiB Studio which features sunken storage with ceramic pots to create an ‘indoor garden’; the winged Capo chair by Doshi Levien (pictured), perfect for privacy/solitude; and the Dandelight by Studio Drift, a beautiful and fragile object created by applying real dandelion seeds to an LED light – an inspired fusion of nature and technology.

The show coincides with the Geffrye’s centenary and celebrates one of its original purposes – to inspire the local furniture-making industry. A rich programme of events highlighting contemporary domestic design will run throughout the show, including talks by the curator and featured designers, a debate on the future of design, workshops and activities for children.

Panel Debate: An Ideal Home?

Designer Wayne Hemingway; Carmel Allen, Creative Director at Heal’s; Gareth Williams, formerly Senior Lecturer at Royal College of Art; Sean Cook, Head of Design at First Base; and Kirsty Minns, Creative Director at The Future Laboratory; will debate what is good design for the home, now and in the future. The panellists – acknowledged experts in their fields – will give thought-provoking presentations and a lively discussion will follow. Topics will include technology, the environment and the economic, commercial and political landscape.

Thursday 8 May. Museum and exhibition open from 6pm, discussion runs from 7-8.30pm Tickets £18, £14.50 concs (includes free entry to the exhibition and a glass of wine)

Exhibition sponsored by:

Ambrose wordmark with line First base logo


1) For further information or images, please contact Nancy Loader, Press Officer, on 020 7739 9893 or

2) useful + beautiful is sponsored by:

Ambrose, a new online furniture brand from Heal’s for smart living in small spaces.

First Base, a developer focused on delivering buildings and places that meet the changing needs of Londoners.

3) The Geffrye explores the home from 1600 to the present day. A chronological sequence of period rooms shows how homes have been used and furnished over the past 400 years, reflecting the changes in society and patterns of behaviour as well as style, fashion and taste. The museum is set in elegant, 18th century buildings surrounded by beautiful gardens in Hoxton, East London.

4) 2014 marks two significant anniversaries for the Geffrye: the tri-centenary of the opening of the almshouses for London’s poor and elderly, and the centenary of the conversion of the almshouses to the museum. To celebrate, there will be a full programme of events for all ages.

5) Entry: Free (to museum and gardens)

Address: 136 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London E2 8EA

Tel/email: 020 7739 9893


Open: Tue – Sun 12-5pm. Closed Mondays unless Bank Holiday

Travel: Overground: Hoxton (behind museum). Underground/rail: Liverpool St or Old St

13 January 2014

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