London’s Design Museum brings sustainability into the sneaker conversation with a forward-looking exhibition by InterestingProjects and Studio LP. 

Key features 

Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street gives sneakerheads scores of real-life eye candy without having to step into a store. For the exhibition at London’s Design Museum (on show through 24 October 2021), InterestingProjects handled the spatial design, including exhibition flow and installations, while StudioLP developed the 2D side, such as signage and infographics. And, due to COVID-19-related constraints, they had to design the entire exhibition remotely. 

The experience is split into three parts, each corresponding to a specific part of the sneaker story. The first, a cathedral-inspired space that highlights the sneaker’s cult status in modern culture, features curtains made from materials used for pairs of Pumas. The second space is a timeline of style in a street-like setting, while the final area focuses on performance. Taking cues from science labs, the performance zone illustrates innovations in sneaker design through materials, sketches and design constructions. The story ends with a future-oriented section: a so-called ‘green room’ that sheds light on the carbon footprint of sneaker production and suggests alternative, ‘greener’ methods. 

This last point shines through in the exhibition design, too. Wherever possible, the team worked with sustainable, salvaged and/or reusable materials. One example is the Perspex display cases, 85 per cent of which were adopted from existing Design Museum stock.   

Frame’s take 

An exhibition dedicated to sneakers could have easily turned overly commercial – all gloss, no substance. To the Design Museum’s credit, that’s not the case here. By focusing on the future, innovation and sustainable materials, the exhibition goes beyond its name. Similarly, the exhibition design could have focused solely on the street-fashion side. The result becomes much more meaningful by sharing the sustainability-minded ideas expressed in the ‘green room’.