Thursday, 7 July 2011

Musing About MUDE

(Image via Pribeiro on Flickr)

I recently spent a mega sunny week in Lisbon, and while people here in Dublin celebrated the city's position on the shortlist to be next World Design Capital, I visited MUDE - Museu do Design e da Moda - Lisbon's beautiful design museum. Located on Rua Augusta, one of the main shopping streets close to the riverside, MUDE has taken its home in a former bank building after years of dereliction and dilapidation. Rather than cover over that part of the building's history however, the museum maintains both its stylish staircases and its grotty walls and ceilings, laying the building's whole story bare. Within the space the ground floor is home to a permanent exhibition of the museum's permanent collection of design and fashion. It serves the purpose not only of showing some of the vast amount of artefacts amassed by Portuguese collector Francisco Capelo but also to provide an introduction to the major developments in design and fashion over the last 100 years.

(Compass desk by Jean Prouvé, 1955)

Move to the first floor for temporary exhibitions, the one currently in place being a collaboration between MUDE and the Museu Nacional de Arte Antigua (MNAA). The exhibition places the much older objects from the MNAA collections alongside the newer objects in MUDE and vice-versa, exploring how the past inspires the present and how certain preoccupations in design are cyclical, returning to fascinate designers again and again.

While a visit to a place like MUDE gives you a reminder of how far we've come in the last 100 years, and how many wonderful objects we've produced in that time (like the Jean Prouvé desk pictured above - one of my favourite pieces on show), it's also a sharper reminder of how much a city like Dublin - shortlisted to be a WDC or not - needs a resource like it. When seeing a place like this, and when hearing the news that London's Design Museum will soon move to a bigger and better building, it becomes clear that Dublin needs a space that teaches the public about design in an accessible and meaningful way, and a space where ideas about design can be explored and discussed. And these days we have more and more bank buildings that might benefit from repurposing...