Relocated from its former Thames location to a stunning new £83-million home by Holland Park, this slick museum is dedicated to design's role in everyday life. Its permanent collection is complemented by a revolving program of special exhibitions, and it's a crucial pit stop for anyone with an eye for recent technology or contemporary aesthetics. Splendidly housed in the refitted former Commonwealth Institute (which opened in 1962), the lavish interior – all smooth Douglas fir and marble – is itself a design triumph.
Most exhibitions are ticketed (from £14.50), as are talks in the auditorium (from £5), but the extensive, 2nd-floor Designer Maker User gallery is free. Exploring the iconography of design classics, the gallery contains almost 1000 objects that trace the history of modern design, from 1980s Apple computers to water bottles, typewriters, prosthetic limbs and a huge advert for the timeless VW Beetle. You can also watch a 3-D printer in action.
Encounter the museum’s Designers in Residence on the 2nd floor when the room is open (otherwise you can see them working). Also note the original stained glass in the shop on the ground floor, where you can also find a cafe (there's a restaurant on the 2nd floor).