Design for Life resources
These design resources support young people’s enjoyment of a museum visit and show how museum objects can provide can rich inspiration for their own imagination and creativity. They have been devised to use in any museum with art and design collections, although the principles can also be applied more broadly to other types of museum collections.
Toolkits for teachers and community project workers
Toolkit for teachers
Engaging young people in design by working with museums and professional designers.
Toolkit for youth and community project workers
Using museums to engage young people in art and design activities.
Design for Life project case study
This looks in detail at how to design a polypropylene bag inspired by objects in the V&A museum.
Design for Life project planning document
This flexible form acts as a checklist to support three-way project planning between group leaders, museum staff and designers.
Museum activity sheets
These PDFs can be downloaded and printed so the activities can be carried out during a museum visit.
Draw and store ideas from museum objects on triangular shapes to create an attractive pyramid souvenir of your museum visit and to use for inspiration later.
Download: Ideas collector activity sheet (PDF file, 97 KB)
Design Challenge: Imaginative Headgear
Design headgear to either attract new friends or repel others from your personal space. Get inspiration from shapes and structures in museum objects.
Download: Design imaginative headgear activity sheet (PDF file, 207 KB)
Unravel the different strands of an object’s design. This simple questioning framework helps young people develop their critical analysis skills when looking at museum objects.
Download: Design DNA activity sheet (PDF file, 48 KB)
This short film demonstrates how group leaders can engage young people in discussion about design objects in a museum using the Design DNA activity model. As an example, young people discuss the iconic plastic chair designed by Verner Panton in 1960, the first to be moulded from a single piece.
Design for Life: using museums to engage young people in design
A four-minute film about the Design for Life project showing the high standards of design work achieved by young people from both schools and youth and community settings when inspired by museums.
This interactive gallery will allow you to share your museum-inspired design projects.
Upload an image of the original museum object, your working drawings in the museum and an image of your final product.
Design for Life resources at other museums
Bolton Museum & Art Gallery
Online lesson plan and filmed demonstration on how to develop silkscreen designs from museum objects.
Films and inspiration images from the museum’s Natural History and Egyptology collections.
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
How to do a schools project on sustainable fashion design: session plans plus four short films with tips and demonstrations by designers
Mask Design: downloadable gallery trail and project ideas.
Manchester City Galleries
Downloadable resources and handling materials to use in the gallery on lighting design, chair design and creative thinking skills.
Metalwork design projects and exploring the design process through inspiration from natural forms.
Design activities for families and community groups such as ‘Design a biscuit cutter’.
Shipley Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear Museums & Archives
Online resources and handling collections on jewellery, textiles, furniture and product design.
Downloadable Design Challenge trail to do in the galleries.
Design for Life was funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education from 2008-2011; and additionally by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council from 2010-11, as part of the government's Stategic Commmissioning Programme for museum and gallery education.