From boots to shirts to stadiums, the Design Museum shows us the beauty in football

The museum hopes to deliver a dynamic exhibition next year exploring the design stories behind the beautiful game.

7 September 2021

Although many creatives choose to leave the world of fanatic sporting to one side, we can’t help but appreciate the beautiful design behind the beautiful game. It’s estimated that more than half the population of the planet – around 3.5 billion people – watched part of the FIFA World Cup in 2018. It is essentially the world’s most popular sport.

The Design Museum on Kensington High Street – which exhibits the design of product, industry, graphics, fashion, and architecture – is hosting a new exhibition which hopes to “unpick how design has pushed the game to its technical and emotional limits while exploring the incredible cultural plurality at its heart.”

“Football is the great global game, endlessly discussed and debated but never yet scrutinised extensively through the lens of design,” says Tim Marlow, chief executive and director of the museum. This exhibition therefore has been curated with the aim of changing views on not only the game for design buffs, but hopes that through a symbiotic relationship, design becomes more appealing to those football fans who have never felt that museums were for them.”

Performance, identity, crowds, spectacle, and play makes up the five main subject areas. Objects on display will include boots, balls, training equipment, kit design, fan ephemera and match-day programmes. The significance of football stadium design hopes to come to light whilst the materials used in today’s football boots will get an exploratory pedestal.

The graphic design of team badges will be on show too while the museum hopes to give the grassroots initiatives pushing back against the sport’s commercialisation a chance to demonstrate their design abilities. These will be accompanied by tournament trophies and posters, tabletop games and even the design of e-sports.

Basically, it’s a day in heaven for both fans of the game and design aficionados alike.

Football: Designing the Beautiful Game will be produced in partnership with the National Football Museum in Manchester. It will run from 8 April – 29 August 2022.


Copyright © Philip Myrtorp


Braga stadium by Architect Eduardo Souto de Moura (Copyright © Dacian Groza)


Forest Green Rovers Eco Park Stadium by Zaha Hadid Architects (Copyright © MIR)

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El Clasico at Camp Nou (Copyright © Chitra Gulabrani)

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia joined It’s Nice That as a news writer in July 2021 after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh. She's written for various indie publications such as Azeema and Notion, and ran her own magazine and newsletter platforming marginalised creativity.

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