Kick-off was just a few weeks ago on 8 April at the Design Museum in Kensington, London. The exhibition, curated by Eleanor Watson and Rachel Hajek, is entitled ‘Football: Designing the Beautiful Game’ and, until the end of August, will be thrilling visitors with an insight into the ways in which design and human creativity have shaped what is now the world’s most popular sport. Attendees are invited to peruse a collection of over 500 objects, films, models, images and interviews on everything from athletic performance and the development of team kits to stadium design and compelling historical anecdotes, spanning all scales and periods of history. Other examples of what visitors can expect include the innovative materials used in professional kits and boots, the graphic design of various teams’ logos, and even an account of the initiatives pushing back against the growing commercialisation of the sport in our time. Of course, there is no lack of exciting memorabilia from the greats of every era, including Pelé, Lionel Messi, George Best and Diego Maradona.
The exhibition offers a behind-the-scenes look at the people and processes that have made football what it is today, as curator Eleanor Watson tells us: “Football is a hugely significant industry across the world and it employs a vast network of highly specialised professionals, with designers and architects playing an important role in shaping the development of the sport for over 150 years. Football: Designing the Beautiful Game shines a spotlight on the role that designers, architects and fans have played in the history of football, from performances on the pitch to the atmosphere in the stands. It is the design story behind the world’s most popular sport”.
Created in collaboration with Manchester’s National Football Museum and the Italian Trade Agency, this exhibition has been organised in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The exhibition is split into five sections: Performance, Identity, Crowds, Spectacle and Play. The outfitting of the museum itself, meanwhile, incorporates familiar elements of stadium architecture, from the players’ tunnel to the stands.
The journey kicks off with a look at how performance has changed thanks to the design and production of football equipment over the entire span of its 150-year history.
In the section dedicated to Identity, visitors can revisit classic moments through kits, posters and much more.
The Crowds section provides fans with an immersive experience of the different corners of the stadium by way of a detailed reconstruction of the sounds, sights and movement from each vantage point.
What’s more, football lovers can also ‘visit’ some of the world’s most important stadiums, such as Wembley, Stamford Bridge and San Siro, as well as explore future projects designed by leading architecture firms such as Herzog & de Meuron, Populous and Zaha Hadid Architects.
The whole experience ends by going back to the heart of what football is really all about: a kickabout with your friends. Celebrating the freedom, creativity and imagination inspired by the game, the final section explores the different ways in which people interact with football off the pitch. The curator herself sums up the significance of the exhibition perfectly: “Football: Designing the Beautiful Game aims to promote plurality, diversity and inclusion throughout. Everyday heroes of the sport will be celebrated, and visitors will be encouraged to share their own views and visions for the future of football”.
Location: Design Museum, London, Uk
Curated by: Eleanor Watson, Rachel Hajek
Content Partner: National Football Museum
Exhibition 3D Design: OMMX
Exhibition 2D Design: Shaz Madani
Supported by: Italian Trade Agency
Pictures by Felix Speller for the Design Museum