Design Museum and John Lewis: How We Live Today

1. Arts Sponsorship
SPONSOR (insert n/a if entering Agency category or Rights Holder category): 
John Lewis
RIGHTS HOLDER/RECIPIENT ORGANISATION (insert n/a if entering Agency category): 
Design Museum
Design Museum
6 Months
SPEND ON ACTIVATION. If entering Agency cat., give most recent annual fee income. Rights Holder cat. entrants, enter N/A.: 
CAMPAIGN MISSION STATEMENT (insert n/a if entering Agency or Rights Holder categories): 

The Design Museum were tasked with creating a programme of engaging content and meaningful dialogue with John Lewis customers that spoke to our shared values on design as part of the John Lewis 150th anniversary celebrations. The Design Museum recognised the relationship as a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate their ability to work with and develop content for a high profile national organisation in the retail sector. Operating in a collaborative partnership from conception through to delivery our organisations worked closely to create activity that aligned with our brands resulting in a highly positive, inspiring and engaging collaboration which exceeded expectations.


In 2014 John Lewis marked their 150th anniversary. As well as engaging their customers in celebrating key moments in their history they also wanted to look to the future and saw their relationship with design as a core value that linked the past with the present. Commercially and strategically they sought to increase public awareness of their design credentials and promote John Lewis as the place to buy classic, contemporary and innovative design. The Design Museum celebrates design through its programme of exhibitions, learning and public engagement with a dedicated following of design enthusiasts

The foundation of the partnership was the shared organisational values - welcoming, inspiring, enterprising with John Lewis and the Design Museum both committed to promoting the value and understanding of good and innovative design.

Strategic planning meetings between curators, buyers, development and marketing began in early 2013 exploring how content could be developed to build a credible, engaging and authoritative platform to communicate what makes a certain design ‘good’ and to promote better understanding of why this is so. Together we uncovered intriguing insights into the trends that underpin commercial design.

The Design Museum recognised the relationship as a fantastic opportunity to explore and demonstrate our ability to work with and develop content for a high profile national organisation in the retail sector, something not previously done.

In 2016 the Design Museum is moving to a new home in Kensington, to provide the space needed to develop into a sustainable world class museum for contemporary design and architecture. A larger building will enable our visitor numbers to double to 500,000 per year, the John Lewis partnership offered the ideal platform to reach out to new and more traditional audiences in preparation for the move.

In order to appeal to the target audiences we collaborated on a series of joint activities:

• Design Today a selection of fifty innovative and iconic products sold at John Lewis taking place in-store and in all window displays of all forty-two branches across the country throughout July and August in 2014
• “Create and Make” family workshops delivered by the Design Museum in the Oxford Street store in August and Family Day at the Design Museum.
• The activity across the summer culminated in a special exhibition at the Design Museum How We Live Today during the London Design Festival in September. The display used some of the selected 50 products to tell ground-breaking design stories from the past 150 years. The different strands of activity demonstrated understanding of our target audience by appealing to the discerning design enthusiast, museum visitor and the archetypal John Lewis family customer.

Design Museum
• Create engaging site specific installations and activity
• Celebrate and promote the history and future of design
• Raise the museum’s national profile by working with one of the UK’s leading retailers
• Demonstrate the museum’s overall vision, mission and values
• Reach new audiences
• Generate revenue
• Increase visitor admissions.

John Lewis
• Celebrate John Lewis’ 150th anniversary and promote their long-standing commitment to design
• Build design credibility through association with a “young and hip” museum
• Share core John Lewis values with new audiences
• Explore the benefits of working with a leading, cultural partner to engage with a curious audience of design enthusiasts
• Collaborate with the Design Museum curatorial team to create a unique and engaging exhibition
• Build an emotional connection with existing customers to increase sales
• Host inspiring family workshops to connect with John Lewis customers and empower the next generation of creative professionals and critical consumers.

Design Today
Design Today, a collection of 50 products, was presented in the window displays and in-store in all 42 branches of John Lewis across the UK creating unprecedented national exposure for the Design Museum and communicating John Lewis’ commitment to design on a significant and unique scale. A panel of six distinguished judges nominated products that demonstrated excellence in design and innovation; Designers Tom Dixon, Sebastian Conran, Margaret Howell, Design Museum’s Director Deyan Sudjic and Senior Curator Alex Newson and Head of Home Design at John Lewis Philippa Prinsloo. They spent a special judging day at the Oxford Street store rigorously working through a long list of products from Home, Electrical and Fashion deciding what makes a good retail product and how this makes it a classic design. A Design Today publication was available free in all 42 stores.

In-Store Workshops and Family Day
The Design Museum’s Learning team delivered a series of creative, design and make hands-on workshops for children aged 5 to 11; the future John Lewis customers. Between the two organisations there was a lot of rich education material to work with. The workshops took place in the Oxford Street store throughout August 2014 and culminated in a Family Day at the Design Museum during the How We Live Today exhibition in September, where children and adults participated in a varied programme of fun, family friendly design activities.

How We Live Today
The exhibition curated by the Design Museum’s Senior Curator Alex Newson showcased over 100 products, including current John Lewis best sellers and historical pieces from the Design Museum’s collection. How We Live Today examined the retailer’s influence on the British shopping landscape across a century and a half of trading, and considered the design thinking behind some of the everyday items that shape our lives.

Digital Campaign
John Lewis created a special Design Today mini-site on their website dedicated to all elements of the partnership, this multi-page site included details of the workshops and family day, in-store Design Trail and product endorsements by the selected judges, the How We Live Today exhibition and biographies of Design Museum Director Deyan Sudjic and Senior Curator Alex Newson. The site received over 10,000 visits during the two-week exhibition period.

Profile raising and new audience outreach
• A successful in-store marketing campaign; Design Today curated by the Design Museum took place in all 42 branches of John Lewis across the UK raising the profile of the partnership and creating unprecedented exposure for the Design Museum.
• The partnership was promoted through the John Lewis and Design Museum websites, Facebook and Twitter pages with a combined audience of over 2 million followers.
• 1.38 million myJohn Lewis members received a Design Today email promoting the in-store workshops, family day and exhibition.
• 1.2 million John Lewis mailing list subscribers received an email regarding the How We Live Today exhibition.
• 1,200 Design Museum Members and Corporate Members received information about the partnership.
• Over 65,000 subscribers of the Design Museum newsletter were exposed to exhibition content in the September monthly email.
• The partnership provided the Design Museum with a national platform, enabling it to foster new links, access new regional audiences outside the UK.

Employee engagement delivered through:
• Free entry to John Lewis Partners at the museum for the duration of the exhibition.
• 30% discount on museum entry to all myJL members

Increased visitor footfall to the Design Museum
• Over 13,000 people visited How We Live Today at the Design Museum during the two-week exhibition period.
• 300 people attended the How We Live Today Private View on Tuesday 9 September
• 150 people attended the How We Live Today Members Night Private View on Friday 12 September.

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