Boilerhouse Project

Going to the opening of the Design Museum in its grand new west London emporium has made me think about its antecedent Boilerhouse Project which was no more than a creative cell in the basement of the V&A where Stephen Bayley held court in a glass office surrounded by piles of magazines.   I have discovered that John Pawson actually designed one of the early exhibitions which I half remember – a big wedge which required one to crouch down in order to see the objects on display.   The other exhibition I remember was an exhibition on Taste in which Stephen had asked various luminaries to select objects representative of their taste.   Alexander Shouvaloff, the then Director of the Theatre Museum, selected Michelin maps.   I hope and assume (actually, I think I know) that someone is documenting its history.


8 thoughts on “Boilerhouse Project

  1. Maurice Davies says:

    The tentative place of the Boilerhouse squatting at the V&A, perhaps both symbiotic and parasitic, gave it the confidence to be not just highly creative but also rather mischievous. My favourite show there was about national characteristics in design. It managed to be simultaneously insightful and hilarious in identifying national stereotypes. I still miss the Boilerhouse’s brave combination of intelligence and parody.

  2. Joan says:

    Prompted by this post I’ve just been on the design museum website reminiscing with the aid of their list of exhibitions which were held at the Boilerhouse. I can remember the excitement of going to many of them as a late teen/ early 20 something. What I can’t find any reference to – perhaps I dreamt it – was an exhibition featuring Japanese pachinko machines. There is an image of the Pawson exhibition here:

    I do hope that the Design Museum in its new location will continue its sterling education work. My eldest (now studying computer science at Warwick University) did a very good three day workshop there with the electronics artist Yuri Suzuki. It was huge fun and not that expensive.

  3. helenreesleahy says:

    My first job: working on the reception desk in the Boilerhouse during John Pawson’s Handtools installlation and listening to the stream of complaints from visitors infuriated by what they perceived to be a victory of the designer’s ego over the function of the exhibition. Stephen seemed to think it was rather middle brow to expect to see the exhibits.

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