The Design Museum

Fans St. Pauli, Regenbogen Fahne Hamburg, 29.04.2016, Fussball, 2. Bundesliga, FC St. Pauli – TSV 1860 Muenchen 0:2

Football: Designing the Beautiful Game
8 April – 29 August 2022 at the Design Museum, London

Designing Football


In the build-up to the 2022 World Cup, the Design Museum presents the first
major exhibition on the design of the world’s most popular sport, football.
Paying homage to a game with unparalleled cultural significance, the exhibition
will reveal how human creativity has pushed the game to its technical and
emotional limits.

Over 500 historical objects which tell the stories of everything from club
legacies and team badges to the world’s most significant stadiums and
innovative kit used to perfect performance.

The exhibition includes objects from game legends such as Edson Arantes do
Nascimento (Pelé), Lionel Messi, Zinedine Zidane, Diego Maradona, Roberto
Baggio, George Best, Michelle Akers, Xavier (Xavi) Hernández Creus, Pernille
Harder and Geoff Hurst.

Kicking off on Friday 8 April 2022, the Design Museum’s exhibition Football:
Designing the Beautiful Game will showcase the ways in which design has
shaped the world’s most popular sport. Take a journey through more than
500 objects, films and interviews in sporting performance, kit development,
stadium design and more. Become immersed in defining moments from
football history, with star objects telling the stories of club legacies and game
legends including Pelé, Lionel Messi, George Best and Diego Maradona and

Featuring the master-planning of the world’s most significant football
stadiums to the innovative materials used in today’s boots, the graphic
design of team badges and the grassroots initiatives pushing back against the
sport’s commercialisation, the exhibition offers an insight into the people and
processes that have made football what it is today.

Created in collaboration with the National Football Museum in Manchester,
this exhibition opens in the build-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The
exhibition is divided into five sections: Performance, Identity, Crowds,
Spectacle and Play. An immersive set design will draw out well-known
elements of stadium architecture from the player’s tunnel to the stands.
The journey begins by looking at performance through the lens of the design
and the production of football equipment over its 150-year history, including
efforts to devise new tools to allow teams to play longer, faster, and more
consistently. See how lightweight boots and aerodynamic balls have evolved
and the industry has developed shock-absorbent pitches and restorative
exercise routines. Packed with major objects such as the two footballs used in
the inaugural 1930 World Cup final and match-worn boots from George Best
and Lionel Messi, visitors will be given an insight into how design has helped
perfect the sport.

From street-corners to world-class stadia, football’s cultural significance is
unparalleled, creating meaningful communities, and uniting people across the
globe. In the section on identity, play back precious moments and connect
with football culture through fan-led memorabilia such as kits, posters,
programmes and more. As well as examining rare designs worn by legendary
players such as Pelé, Zinedine Zidane, and Diego Maradona, this section also
touches on the Hillsborough Disaster, including a Memorial Banner, designed
by survivor Peter Carney from 1989.

Relive the sensation of being part of a match day crowd through an
immersive stadium reconstruction in the Crowds section. Stadiums have a
detailed design process that considers sound, sightlines, and movement to
maximise the fan experience. Be guided through some of the most complex
stadiums from around the world, including landmark venues such as
Wembley, Stamford Bridge and San Siro, alongside future-facing projects from
leading industry figures like Herzog & de Meuron, Populous and Zaha Hadid

In a year that also celebrates 150 years of The Football Association in the UK,
explore how tournaments and the media have transformed the game into the
world’s most popular spectator sport. See how the establishment of official
tournaments, television viewership and social media has allowed fans to
connect to the sport and turned football into a multi-billion pound industry.
Examine the oldest surviving FA Cup and a set of World Cup posters, while
archived radio clips transport you through sporting history.

The show ends by returning to what football is at its core: a chance to play.
Celebrating the freedom, creativity and imagination the game inspires, this final
section explores the different ways people engage with football beyond the pitch,
from collecting to gaming, fan ownership to community activism. Discover early
examples of tabletop games such as Blow Football and Subboteo, and video
games including the FIFA series, Football Manager and Sensible Soccer.
Throughout, hear a specially commissioned soundtrack by Coda to Coda, recording the
voices of fans and players from the highest tiers of professional football through to
grassroots level.

Eleanor Watson, Curator said:

“Football is a hugely significant industry across the world and it employs a vast
network of highly specialised professionals, with designers and architects
playing an important role in shaping the development of the sport for over 150
years. Football: Designing the Beautiful Game shines a spotlight on the role
that designers, architects and fans have played in the history of football, from
performances on the pitch to the atmosphere in the stands. It is the design
story behind the world’s most popular sport”

Families are invited to take part in a bespoke trail produced by Lima Studio, which
uses multi-sensory experiences to animate the exhibition’s content for children of
all ages. Design your own kit, build your own football stadium and more.
Football: Designing the Beautiful Game aims to promote plurality, diversity and
inclusion throughout. Everyday heroes of the sport will be celebrated, and visitors
will be encouraged to share their own views and visions for the future of football.
Football: Designing the Beautiful Game opens on Friday 8 April 2021
at the Design Museum. Tickets for the exhibition are available to book now


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