Today the Design Museum has announced what visitors can expect to see in its 2023 programme, and headlining the shows is the very first design exhibition by globally-renowned artist Ai Weiwei.
Can it really nearly be 2023 already? While we're still getting used to typing 2022, the Design Museum has started looking to the future by revealing the delights of its 2023 programme. As well as Ai Weiwei's major new show in April, which will serve as a commentary on design and what it reveals about our changing values, there is a whole array of other exciting shows in store.
These include a landmark exhibition centred around India's traditional garment, the sari, which will open in May. And from October until early 2024, the Design Museum will explore the evolution of the skateboard and its impact on the design world. The hugely popular ASMR exhibition currently in place has also been extended until April 2023.
The headline event of the 2023 programme, though, is undoubtedly Ai Weiwei: Making Sense, which will run from 7 April to 30 July 2023. This exhibition, made in collaboration with the artist, will be his first commentary on the design world and will see him using material culture to explore the "tension between past and present, hand and machine, precious and worthless, construction and destruction."
Tim Marlow, director and chief executive at Design Museum, says: "With saris, skateboards and a spellbinding show by Ai Weiwei, 2023 is going to be one of the most ground-breaking years in recent memory at the Design Museum. As the world's leading museum of contemporary design, we are uniquely placed to explore these compelling global stories that highlight the sometimes playful but invariably decisive role of design in many aspects of our lives.
"We're delighted that Ai Weiwei will present his first major design-focussed exhibition here at the Design Museum. He is clearly one of the most important artists in the world. Still, his practice also profoundly embraces design and architecture, and his work's cultural and political impact will resonate in very different ways throughout this collaborative landmark exhibition."
The Design Museum adds that Ai Weiwei's exhibition will draw on the artist's fascination with historical Chinese artefacts. These objects will place their traditional craftsmanship in dialogue with the more recent history of demolition and urban development in China.
"The result is a meditation on value – on histories and skills that have been ignored or erased," it adds. "The exhibition will see some of Ai's most important works displayed alongside collections of objects that have never been seen and new commissions made for the exhibition. Not only is this Ai's personal commentary on design, but it is also a major opportunity for visitors to see his work through a new lens."
Tickets for this exhibition have gone on sale today and can be purchased here. There will also be a conversation between Ai Weiwei and Design Museum Director Tim Marlow ahead of the show's opening on 20 September 2022, with tickets available to book here.
Tickets for The Upbeat Sari, which will be a radical reinvention of the garment and bring together dozens of saris by designers, wearers and craftspeople in India, will go on sale soon – as will tickets for Skateboard, an exhibition curated by skater and industrial designer Jonathan Olivares which will map the design evolution of the skateboard from the 1950s to today.
Other highlights of the 2023 programme include The Ralph Saltzman Prize, which returns for a second year to champion emerging talent. Annual design and enterprise competition Design Ventura also returns in April. The prestigious residency Design Researchers in Residence will run from June until September, centred around the theme of islands.