Design and football in an exhibition at the Design Museum in London

It all kicked off just a few weeks ago on April 8th at the Design Museum in Kensington, London. The exhibition, curated by Eleanor Watson and Rachel Hajek, is entitled “Football: Designing the Beautiful Game” and will thrill visitors until the end of August with an insight into how design and human creativity have shaped the world’s most popular sport . Participants are invited to view a collection of over 500 objects, films, models, images and interviews on everything from sporting achievements and team jersey development to stadium design and compelling historical anecdotes, spanning all scales and eras of history. Other examples of what visitors can expect are the innovative materials used in professional kits and boots, the graphic design of the logos of different teams and even a report on the initiatives that counteract the increasing commercialization of the sport in our time . Of course, there is no shortage of exciting memorabilia from the greats of all eras, 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 an extremely important industry worldwide, employing a vast network of highly specialized 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 highlights the role designers, architects and fans have played in football history, from performance on the pitch to atmosphere in the stands. It’s the design story behind the world’s most popular sport.”

This exhibition was organized in collaboration with Manchester’s National Football Museum and the Italian Trade Agency in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The exhibition is divided into five sections: Performance, Identity, Crowds, Spectacle and Play. The furnishings of the museum itself, on the other hand, take up familiar elements of stadium architecture, from the players’ tunnel to the grandstands.

The journey begins with a look at how performance has changed thanks to the design and production of football gear throughout its 150-year history.
In the identity section, visitors can revisit classic moments through kits, posters and more.
The Crowds section offers fans an immersive experience of the different corners of the stadium through a detailed reconstruction of the sounds, sights and movement from every angle.
In addition, 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 architectural firms such as Herzog & de Meuron, Populous and Zaha Hadid Architects.
The whole experience ends with a return to the core of what soccer is really about: kicking around with your friends. The final section celebrates the freedom, creativity and imagination inspired by the game and explores the different ways people interact with football off the pitch. The curator herself sums up the importance of the exhibition perfectly: “Football: Designing the Beautiful Game aims to encourage plurality, diversity and inclusion throughout. Everyday heroes of sport are celebrated and visitors are encouraged to share their own views and visions for the future of football.”

Francesco Cibati

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
Sponsored by: Italian Commercial Agency
Pictures by Felix Speller for the Design Museum

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