The London Design Museum Is Getting Around the U.K.’s Strict Lockdown Measures by Reopening as a Grocery Store

Artist Camille Walala has transformed the museum’s shop into an essential business.

Camille Walala. Photo by Felix Speller.
Camille Walala. Photo by Felix Speller.

London’s Design Museum has found a creative way around the continued lockdown on England’s public institutions and galleries.

While museums must remain closed until May 19 under current rules, essential businesses such as gas stations and grocery stores are allowed to remain open.

With the help of artist Camille Walala, the museum has therefore transformed its gift shop into a supermarket, which will sell pantry staples designed by artists to raise funds for the institution.

“Our high streets, museums, and galleries have been hit hard by the pandemic; this is an opportunity to get people back to enjoying our cultural institutions safely and creatively,” the museum’s director, Tim Marlow, said in a statement.

“This installation is an opportunity to rethink what we buy, who profits, and what we consider to be essential,” he added.

Camille Walala's store design for the Creativity is Essential experience. Courtesy the Design Museum.

Camille Walala’s store design for the Creativity is Essential experience. Courtesy the Design Museum.

Open April 21 through April 25, the installation, titled Supermarket, will be stocked with essential items including bread, coffee, and rice. Walala has designed the store in her signature bold patterns and bright colors, and 10 emerging artists have designed special editions to be sold at regular grocery-store prices.

The proceeds from the limited editions, which include a toilet roll designed by Michaela Yearwood-Dan and dish soap designed by Jess Warby, will support the Design Museum. 

The artist-designed editions available at Supermarket. Courtesy the Design Museum.

The artist-designed editions available at Supermarket. Courtesy the Design Museum.

The institution has seen a 92 percent drop in income since the first lockdown last spring, and the funds will support a new “pay it forward” program to give artists and designers free access to exhibitions, talks, and events. 

“The past year has been really challenging for artists who haven’t been able to show work or collaborate as normal,” Walala said in a statement.

“The Supermarket is a great way to not only support the Design Museum, but also shine a spotlight on the 10 brilliant young artists who through this project have a new platform for their work.”

“Supermarket” was conceived and funded by the gin brand Bombay Sapphire. The installation is on view at London’s Design Museum through April 25.


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share