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Brief Published: 9 Jul 2014

Rapid Response Collecting at V&A

Clockwise left to right: Motorola WT41N, Nest thermostat, Liberator, Flappy Birds

As a new strategy for engaging with events that shape or are shaped by design, architecture and technology, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum has unveiled Rapid Response Collecting – a new gallery of objects that respond to important moments in recent design and manufacturing.

As part of the museum’s new approach to collecting contemporary design and architecture, the gallery asks the consumer to “think more broadly about the outside world; to advance what design can do, or reveal the state of how we live today and how we might live tomorrow”, according to Corinna Gardner, curator of contemporary product design at the V&A.

The opening dozen objects included in the gallery are evidence of social, political, technological and economic change. These include the museum’s first mobile phone game acquisition, Flappy Bird, which was made unavailable to download in a matter of days due to its alleged ‘addictive qualities’; and The Liberator, the world’s first 3D-printed gun, which questions the way we think about new manufacturing technologies.

Also included, the Nest thermostat is featured as part of a generation of products that ushers in the Internet of Things. Look to Product Design + Innovation and Eco Energy: Smarter Savers for more on cohesive products and services. Meanwhile, the Motorola WT41N wearable terminal monitors and verifies tasks in large-scale warehouse operations, and could signal the future of work.

Rapid Response will frequently change as new objects are added in response to global events, technological advances, political changes or pop-cultural phenomena. The new gallery hopes to offer a permanent legacy of objects that will serve as 21st-century material culture archive for future researchers and visitors.