Review: California: Designing Freedom, Design Museum

California comes to London this summer with the Design Museum’s showcase of the very best in art and design from the golden state

From 1960s freedom of expression posters to the iPhones we use for work and play, Californian design — knowingly or not — has been branding our lives for years. ‘Designed in California’ is apparently the new ‘Made in Italy’.

So there couldn’t be a better time to celebrate California’s distinctive approach to design and lifestyle than now. And the Design Museum’s latest exhibition, California: Designing Freedom, does just that.

The intimate exhibition picks up the story in the 1960s, and traces the journey from California’s hippie heyday, where counter-cultures pioneered a rebellion of life and art, to Silicon Valley’s noughties tech revolution.

Featuring more than 200 items, organised in five different themed zones, the exhibition explores, above all, how Californian design is defined by an emphasis on personal freedom. From the iPhone to the surfboard, Californian design has strived to develop tools that liberate.

Look out for the ‘Go Where you Want Zone’, which features the Waymo self-driving car (formerly part of the Google self-driving project), which is revolutionising the way we travel, and the ‘Join Who you Want Zone’, which traces the trajectory of powerful social media platforms such as Facebook.

The exhibition is a little techy and quite densely packed with all sorts of objects from the last four decades, but it’s bright and breezy and an engaging ride.

Go west, and embrace your Cali vibe this summer. And if that’s not enough, read our top-tips for living like a Californian in the big smoke.

Originally published at