Design to Win: Behind the Olympics

The Design Museum has opened the doors of its new exhibition, Design to Win curated by Alex Newson, unveiling the secrets of high-tech sports equipment being used at this summer’s London’s Olympic Games.

Running from 26 July until 18 November, the show exhibits an extensive collection of design pieces that retrace the history of sports, showing the evolution of our most popular as well as niche games.

The space has been designed by Urban Saloon Architects. A central bamboo chute runs the length of the gallery, through which visitors enter and are led towards film projections that replicate the velocity and movement of velodromes and racing tracks, as well as the speed of sports
court flooring.The gallery is organized into four spaces around two pieces that, from the entrance, capture the attention of the visitor: the Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro LeMans, the first hybrid electric vehicle to win the competition in the 2012, and the Williams FW33 Formula One car.

Design has played a fundamental role in developing new support technologies for disabled athletes. A selection of objects including a range of wheelchairs designed for racing, skiing and even rugby, as well as the Flex-Foot Cheetah running blades are displayed in the Paralympics and disability Sport Equipment section. Similarly, Training and Safety shows the work of brands such as Oakley in developing new systems to assure not just the best performance, but also the most safe.The exhibition also highlights the inseparable relationship between technique, innovation and ergonomic design, without forgetting the influence of fashion. Stella McCartney’s GB team kit for London 2012, as well as Hussein Chalayan’s collection for Puma and timeless brands such as Lacoste and Fred Perry are also on display.

Perhaps the most interest space within the exhibition is Sporting Controversies that considers the effects of “technological doping” which provide some athletes with performance advantage over others through the use of specialised sporting equipment. After 2000, the Union Cycliste Internationale stated that all bikes had to have the same characteristics in order to qualify when breaking the world record. The display of World Cycling Hour Records includes (amongst others) the bike used by Francesco Moser in 1984 by Moser Cycles and the Espada of Miguel Indurain, 1994,
by Pinarello.

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Photography Jasper Fry