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Designed in California.

What influential designs came out of California? Most designers would instantly think of Apple and its silicon counterparts. But what was it that attracted high-tech companies like Facebook and Google to start their success story here? And what has lead them to create such iconic tools of self-expression and sometimes rebellion?

Designing Freedom is an exhibition that showcases Californian designers and their influences. It looks at how they’ve pioneered graphic cultures that now shape our influences and developed products that are deep-rooted into our daily lives. Walking through the exhibition, you’re taken on a rich and vibrant journey starting at the 1960s. Its psychedelic subcultures, freedom of expression and activist movements heavily influence early surfboards designs, LSD inspired artwork and graphic design.

Then in the 1980s, ‘new wave’ punk anarchic design demands your attention before moving onto the explosion of the tech Start-up Movement. Here’s where big name brands like Mattel and HP leased garage space as their workspace. Atari is born along with the first computer games like Pong.

Then as the technology developed rapidly, the iPhone was born bringing with it a revolution in human behaviour. It was the first smartphone designed to be almost as versatile as computers, ushering in a whole new category of user interface design. Personalised computers became tools of personal liberation and expression, particularly with the eruption of social media. Today fitness tracking products blend form with function and Google Glass and Snapchat Spectacles are becoming more commonplace.

Californian products don’t just have a global reach; they define how we all live in the modern world. As the exhibition states “Californian products have affected our lives to such an extent that in some ways we are all now Californians.”

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