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Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition has docked at The Design Museum

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition has docked at The Design Museum

The eagerly awaited Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition has docked at London’s The Design Museum. It has already been hailed as one of the must-see cultural events of 2019 according to the BBC, Time Out London, Evening Standard and ahem… Film and Furniture.

Stanley Kubrick during the filming of Killer's Kiss
Stanley Kubrick during the filming of Killer’s Kiss (The Tiger of New York, USA 1955). © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition celebrates the work of one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th Century. It’s arrival at The Design Museum marks the 20th anniversary of Kubrick’s death and brings together around 700 objects, films, movie props, costumes, scripts, interviews, letters and photographs to present an in-depth insight into the unique command Kubrick had over the creative design process of film making – from storyteller to director to editor.

Kubrick created entire worlds through his films and these worlds often predicted the future – 2001‘ anticipated many of the technological advances we see today from AI, space ships and computers to visual phones and voice recognition. 

The film set of 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick
The film set of 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Seeing as the great filmmaker Stanley Kubrick made the UK his home and created seminal scenes as diverse as the orbiting space station for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) to the brutalist backdrop of Thamesmead for A Clockwork Orange (1971), from New York street scenes for Eyes Wide Shut (1999) to the battlefields of Vietnam for Full Metal Jacket (1987) – all here in the UK, it’s hard to imagine why the touring Kubrick exhibition (or variation thereof) had not landed on his home turf until now. 

The entrance to The Design Museum's Stanley Kubrick exhibition complete with the carpet from The Shining's Overlook Hotel. Photo: Paula Benson for Film and Furniture
The entrance to The Design Museum’s Stanley Kubrick exhibition complete with the carpet from The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel. Photo: Paula Benson for Film and Furniture

On entering the main hall, you are greeted at the exhibition entrance by our favourite carpet– the hexagonal retro design as seen in The Shining’s Overlook Hotel (although we suspect this is not an officially licensed version of the David Hicks design!). The carpet in The Hotel’s corridor features prominently in several key scenes of Kubrick’s 1980 film, including young Danny’s first unnerving encounter with room 237 as he investigates on his tricycle. The carpet’s dynamic orange, brown and red colour way and mesmerising graphic pattern leap out at us from the screen, so it’s no surprise that it has become the most iconic carpet to ever feature in film.

Danny-corridor-hexagonal-carpet-the-shining-kubrick
The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel corridor

The carpet leads you into a stunning “one point perspective corridor” of angled screens showing clips of some of Kubrick’s most well known films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, Dr Strangelove and Eyes Wide Shut

The entrance to Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition features a "one point perspective corridor" created from a series of angled screens
The entrance to Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition features a “one point perspective corridor” created from a series of angled screens. Photo: Ed Reeve for The Design Museum.

Walking through this corridor of screens feels like a Kubrickian tracking camera.

The "one point perspective" corridor of screens at The Design Museum's Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition. Photo: Ed Reeve for The Design Museum
The “one point perspective” corridor of screens at The Design Museum’s Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition. Photo: Ed Reeve for The Design Museum

Themed in sections by film, as you venture around the exhibition you will delve into the mindset of an obsessive genius in full control of his craft. You’ll discover objects and film props such as Jack’s typewriter from The Shining complete with the “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” typewritten paper and the (Allen Jones influenced) erotic furniture for the A Clockwork Orange’s Korova bar.

Jack's typewriter from The Shining
Jack’s typewriter from The Shining. Photo: Ed Reeve for The Design Museum

A recreation of a section of the Hilton Lobby from 2001’s Space Station 5 features the Olivier Mourgue designed Djinn chairs and sofas which have been the subject of many a feature here at Film and Furniture. If we’re being really Kubrick-pedantic, the accompanying Knoll Saarinen table in this exhibit should have a red base, not white.

Space Station 5 installation from 2001: A Space Odyssey featuring Djinn chairs and sofas. Photo: Ed Reeve for The Design Museum
Space Station 5 installation from 2001: A Space Odyssey featuring Djinn chairs and sofas. Photo: Ed Reeve for The Design Museum

Costumes designed by Milena Canonero from Barry Lyndon are cleverly lit by hanging digital candles as a nod to the thousands of candles that were used to shoot the film.

Costumes designed by Milena Cononero from Barry Lyndon
Costumes designed by Milena Cononero for Barry Lyndon. Photo: Ed Reeve for The Design Museum

You’ll also find Canonero’s costume for Droog leader Alex in A Clockwork Orange and the infamous ‘Born-To-Kill’ inscribed helmet from Full Metal Jacket

Alex's costume and Allen Jones influenced erotic furniture from A Clockwork Orange's Korova Bar
Alex’s costume and Allen Jones influenced erotic furniture from A Clockwork Orange‘s Korova Bar. Photo: Paula Benson for Film and Furniture

Production Designer Ken Adam’s model and sketches for Dr Strangelove’s epic war room are also on display.

The exhibition’s co-curator Deyan Sudjic of the Design Museum says putting  together the Design Museum’s version of the internationally acclaimed touring exhibition for London has been like a “treasure hunt”. We asked him which three design objects in the exhibition define Kubrick’s approach. He cites:

• The Zeiss lens originally developed by NASA to take photos of the dark side of the moon and which enabled the filming of Barry Lyndon’s candlelit sequences. It typifies Kubrick’s drive to solve problems and invent, or repurpose cutting edge new technology in doing so.

BNC Mitchell camera with Zeiss lens used for Barry Lyndon
BNC Mitchell camera with Zeiss lens used for Barry Lyndon

• The distinctive Transcriptor Hydraulic Reference turntable seen in Alex’s bedroom in A Clockwork Orange – a fine example of Kubrick’s genius in depicting the near future.

• HAL – the sentient AI computer at the heart of 2001: A Space Odyssey. (An interactive HAL exhibit will be included in the exhibition but was not available at the opening press launch we attended).

The exhibition also includes important works by designers Hardy Amies and Saul Bass, art and photography from Diane Arbus and Don McCullin, designs by Elliot Noyes and Pascall Morgue alongside contributions from renowned directors.

Having seen many of these exhibits previously at the Kunstforeningen GL Strand exhibition in Copenhagen and also first hand in the Stanley Kubrick Archives – UAL, the Design Museum’s interpretation doesn’t feel quite as immersive or interactive as we were hoping, but having said that, it is without a doubt a ‘must see’ and in the words of Steven Spielberg: ‘To all you film lovers and filmmakers, if you want to understand and experience how Stanley Kubrick created these unforgettable worlds don’t miss this wonderful exhibition as the Design Museum”. 

You can find more photos of the exhibition on our Instagram and Twitter feeds.

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition is open from 26 April to 17 September 2019. More information and tickets at designmuseum.org

The exhibition coincides with a series of Kubrick events and screenings at BFI Southbank.

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