California: Designing Freedom

Design Museum

California: Designing Freedom was an exhibition held at London’s Design Museum that explores how the ideals of the 1960s counterculture morphed into the tech culture of Silicon Valley, and how ‘Designed in California’ became a global phenomenon. Barnbrook was commissioned to design the exhibition graphics and accompanying catalogue.

The catalogue and exhibition design are equally influenced by the graphics of 60s counterculture and the visual language of recent tech and digital advancements. The design aims to represent the utopian mindset that is now almost synonymous with California, which translates to a clean and ‘Modernist’ layout and typography.

The main motif used in the exhibition’s marketing material is the sun, always represented at dusk with warm pastel colours. This visual aims to subvert the unstoppable optimism connected to the notion of ‘freedom’ attained via individualism and capitalism.

The dotted pattern used throughout the catalogue and exhibition graphics is a reference to the lithographic halftones of 60s posters, as well as digital pixels.