Design Is Not for Us: Engaging a New Audience for the Design Museum by Changing Their Expectations

  • Sophie Boonen
  • Martijn van der Heijden
  • Elisa Giaccardi
Part of the Springer Series on Cultural Computing book series (SSCC)


Current visitors of the Design Museum in London can be roughly divided into two types of people: experts with a background or specific interest in design and novices that are new to design. User studies in the museum revealed a lack of engagement with the novice visitors, which mostly has to do with their attitude when they enter the museum. They have relatively low expectations about their visit, assuming design is ‘just not for them’. This chapter argues that in order to engage them, the museum should lower the perceived exclusiveness of design, broaden the amateur’s view on what design can be, and create a lasting experience outside of the traditional museum visit. This alternative approach resulted in the proposal for a design intervention in the form of a ‘Design Library’. Lending out part of the design collection to visitors enables self-documentation of user experiences through a mobile application. Collected stories are made available to (novice) visitors in the museum, broadening their definition of design. At the time of publication, the Design Library is still only a concept. Nevertheless, this project shows an interesting approach for a museum to change novices’ attitude towards the subject, and thus, their expectations before they enter the exhibition.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sophie Boonen
    • 1
  • Martijn van der Heijden
    • 2
  • Elisa Giaccardi
    • 3
  1. 1.MuzusDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.FabriqueDelftThe Netherlands
  3. 3.TU Delft - Industrial Design EngineeringDelftThe Netherlands

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