What will exhibition design look like in 2024?

As part of our series on design in 2024, Studio Arc director Lyndsey Bowditch offers her view on what exhibition design might look like next year.

What do you think exhibition design will look like in 2024?

Connections, community, creativity, caring and climate sum up my predictions for exhibition design in 2024. But let’s get the dreaded “C” out of the way first. Covid had a catastrophic effect on our ability to interact with culture. To survive, museums and galleries have had to adapt and have emerged as places which bring communities together. Without a doubt culture and the arts will face ever more challenges to funding in 2024, but, perhaps because of that, museums and galleries will be all the more treasured as social spaces where visitors can share stories, create content, reflect, reminisce, and feel connected.

I believe that creating a sense of connection will be at the heart of successful exhibition design in 2024. As a society we are aware of the issues around loneliness, mental health and isolation, and exhibition design has a vital role to play in creating experiences where visitors can feel ‘connected’ to others. For exhibition design, this means creating environments and experiences which make a strong emotional connection with visitors. As someone concerned with content and creating meaningful experiences, I believe that the exhibitions which we will be talking about at the end of 2024 will be the ones which have the power to make that lasting memory, to spark an emotional connection and to play a transformative role on an individual level. Exhibitions which move us – bring us joy, fun, amusement, make us stop in our tracks and take a moment to ponder on the past will be the standouts for 2024.

As designers in 2024 sustainable practices and construction will be embedded in everything we do. Our responsibility to our clients, to visitors, to the planet and to our collective future means that we need to be constantly appraising all aspects of exhibition design in terms of sustainable materials, energy efficiency, waste reduction and our own carbon footprint. It is a message of hope for 2024 that as designers we can positively influence our future by the decisions we make now. Our unique contribution is to turn challenges into opportunities. What is a new year if not an exciting opportunity where exhibition design can play its own small part in helping to create a more connected and caring world?

What was your favourite exhibition design project of 2023, and why?

Photo by Nick Mailer Photography

In the top spot as my favourite exhibition of 2023 is Grayson Perry: Smash Hits, the largest retrospective of his work. Held in Edinburgh, the exhibition was fun, lively, provocative and engaging. Perry’s artworks are a fascinating combination of being visibly accessible while containing challenging ideas around themes of sexuality, class and identity. The exhibition labels written by Perry and an audio guide narrated by the artist, added a whole other layer of interpretation and understanding. For me, it connected me to the artist as he shared his intentions and the sheer scale and intricate detail of his artworks immersed me deep in his world.

Banner and featured image by Nick Mailer Photography

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