Where do designers get their inspiration?

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There is so much in London that fires my enthusiasm! Here are the top 10 places that get my creative juices flowing.

1 The V&A

V&A signThe premier museum in London for the applied arts (and hence loved by graphic designers) also puts on the best special exhibitions. At the time of writing ‘Pink Floyd: their mortal remains’ is their main exhibition. Also showing is ‘Balenciaga: shaping fashion’ and ‘Plywood: material of the modern world’. Along with their permanent exhibits, there is something for everyone.

2 The Design Museum

The new Design Museum in Kensington High Street is housed in the former Commonwealth Institute. My first impression was ‘Wow!’ when I walked in, the space is spectacular. It has an open, friendly feel with staircases doubling as benches for people to sit and chat. The top floor is set aside for a permanent free exhibition called Designer Maker User, and there are 2 paid exhibition spaces downstairs. See my related blogpost.

3 Brixton market

Brixton market area

A riot of colour, sound and smells, the market area has independent shops, stalls and cafes. I don’t recognise some of food on sale, which makes me feel I’m on holiday. Make sure you go with a healthy appetite!

4 Bushy Park

Unusual tree in Bushy ParkThis Royal Park linking Kingston, Hampton and Teddington is less well known than Richmond Park, hence is quieter. It’s also more beautiful. Stunning shapes, flora and fauna sometimes give me ideas for projects, and the peaceful atmosphere clears my mind – which also helps me to be more creative.

5 Leighton House Museum

If, like me, you love turquoise, Arabic architecture, patterns and scripts, you will love the Leighton House Museum. Tucked away off Kensington High Street near Holland Park, the Victorian former home of artist and President of the Royal Academy, Frederic Leighton, is stunning and inspirational. National Trust members pay reduced entry fees. See my related blogpost.

6 Waterstones Piccadilly

My favourite bookshop, and Europe’s biggest, spans 6 floors. After browsing the wonderful selection of books (and in my case, seeing what the competition are up to) head to the top floor cafe-bar where you can have a coffee or a cocktail whilst overlooking rooftop London.

7 Columbia Road flower market

Get your elbows out, this place is always packed! If you love colour, this is the place to be on a Sunday from the crack of dawn until mid afternoon. Whether your tastes are everyday or exotic, you will be catered for, and if you’re there towards the end you can get fabulous bargains for a fiver. Good coffee shops abound, and the Geffrye Museum (free entry) is just round the corner. This area is well known for Vietnamese restaurants too.

8 Paperchase

I use Paperchase as a barometer of trends – they are very good at stocking what is up and coming. I have to be aware of trends – but I don’t always follow them.

9 The Apple Store

The Apple Store

Exceptional product design, wonderful packaging (as everyone who’s ever bought an iPhone knows) and outstanding customer service. Apple employees don’t work on a commission basis, and it shows. This is customer service to which I aspire.

10 The Bike Shed, Shoreditch

The Bike Shed Shoreditch

Why, you might think, should I want to hang out in a motorbike shop? It’s way more than just that! Set in a vast space under the arches at the edge of Shoreditch, this place also has a cafe with proper baristas, a restaurant, a shop selling the grooviest bike accessories and clothing, an events space for talks and a barbershop. I love it because it’s so buzzy, is great for people-watching and again, is a barometer of what’s going on. This place to me really sums up creative London.

Apple Store photo © Chris Beckett at Flickr
The Bike Shed photo © Mike Turner at Flickr
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