Five must-see exhibitions in London to add to your diary this summer

Morag Myerscough's permanent installation at Design Museum, London. Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Morag Myerscough's permanent installation at Design Museum, London. Image licensed via Adobe Stock

It's been an unprecedented year of lockdowns, staying at home and rolled-out vaccines. As we hold our breath to see what's happening on 21 June, we thought we'd get excited about all the exhibitions that are happening this summer, starting off with a focus on the UK capital.

London always has so much to offer and this year, we're spoilt for choice thanks to the wonderful institutions and museums that have endured yet survived such a challenging time.

From a timely look at the graphic design behind the Tokyo 1964 Olympics to a fond exploration of our favourites sneakers, there is also a spotlight on the legendary Sophie Taeuber-Arp and a celebration of UK fashion designer, Nicholas Daley. We cover art, culture, graphic design, photography, film, fashion, and more. Watch this space for further features focusing on different cities around the UK.

Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street – The Design Museum

Currently on show at The Design Museum in London, right up until 24 October 2021, is Sneakers Unboxed – a must for any fan of street fashion and culture. The major show explores one of the most universal design objects, bought and worn by millions worldwide every day – the sneaker.

Here, you'll learn how sneakers were originally designed for specific sporting activities such as the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star and the Puma Disc, and why today they have become the undisputed cultural symbol of our times. You'll also discover the design process behind some of the most technically inventive shoes of today, and enjoy seeing the icons and collaborations that have shaped this phenomenon over the years.

Image courtesy of Design Museum

Image courtesy of Design Museum

Sophie Taeuber-Arp – Tate Modern

From 15 July 2021, Tate Modern will host a major exhibition on one of the most innovative artists and designers of the 20th-century avant-garde, Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889-1943) who challenged the borders between abstract art, design and craft.

The show will be the first in the UK to trace Taeuber-Arp's accomplished career as a painter, architect, teacher, writer, and designer of textiles, marionettes and interiors. Bringing together over 200 objects from collections across Europe and America, the exhibition will show how she blazed a new path for the development of abstraction.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp  Six Spaces with Four Small Crosses 1932 Oil paint and graphite on canvas 65 × 100 Kunstmuseum Bern.  Gift of Marguerite Arp-Hagenbach

Sophie Taeuber-Arp Six Spaces with Four Small Crosses 1932 Oil paint and graphite on canvas 65 × 100 Kunstmuseum Bern. Gift of Marguerite Arp-Hagenbach

Tokyo 1964 – Japan House London

Showcasing the revolutionary cultural, architectural and graphic design legacy of the historic Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games via untold stories, artefacts and designs, this highly anticipated exhibition will explore how Japan realised the opportunity of the Games to tell a fresh story and showcase Japanese creativity and design thinking to the world following the Second World War. It launches on 5 August 2021 at Japan House London.

Exterior of Japan House London - Image by Lee Mawdsley

Exterior of Japan House London - Image by Lee Mawdsley

Herbert List – Magnum Gallery

Metamorphoses is an exhibition of works by the Avant la Lettre queer German photographer Herbert List, on show at the Magnum Gallery on Gee Street and online from 4 to 30 June 2021. It's the artist's first solo exhibition in the UK in five years and explores themes of mythology, the male body, and Greek sculpture. It borrows its title from Ovid's epic poem, Metamorphoses, and focuses on transformation. It explores the complex relationship between List's prolific depiction of sculptures, his sensual images of men, and the blurred line between them.

Greece, Athens, 1936, Young man with laurel over the eyes © Herbert List / Magnum Photos

Greece, Athens, 1936, Young man with laurel over the eyes © Herbert List / Magnum Photos

Return to Slygo by Nicholas Daley – NOW Gallery

Considered one of the UK's most pioneering young fashion designers, Nicholas Daley has taken over the NOW Gallery on the Greenwich Pennisula until 4 July, with Return to Slygo, an immersive, multi-sensory exhibition that celebrates the coming together of his multicultural Jamaican-Scottish roots with his passion for music.

This is a chance to find out more about his journey – from the small reggae club in Dundee that was started by his parents in the 1970s and to why knitting is pivotal to his practice. All described in objects, illustrations, film and photography, it connects the past with the present and could be summed up in the words of Roger Robinson, the poet featured in the film 'Return to Slygo': "And they sway to the riddim rocksteady and nobody ready to go home..."

Return to Slygo by Nicholas Daley. Image courtesy of NOW Gallery. Photography by Charles Emerson

Return to Slygo by Nicholas Daley. Image courtesy of NOW Gallery. Photography by Charles Emerson