In honor of the ongoing Summer Olympic Games now taking place in London, the Design Museum features an exhibition called Designed to Win which highlights key advances made in sport due to innovations in design, and vice versa. Overarching themes of safety, performance, fashion, new materials, and technology are reviewed as these are the crucial components necessary to lift both the design and sporting worlds to what were once unimaginable heights.
The experience includes interactive displays to supplement film clips, photography, models, sporting equipment, and timelines for subjects such as the Lotus type 108 Olympic Pursuit Bike. As an affirmation of the value of this design-sport alliance, this particular bike set a new world record in its Olympic debut in Barcelona in 1992.
One of the most recent features, in action this summer, are the Speedo FastSkin3 racing suit and goggles, which provide Olympic swimmers Michael Phelps and Rebecca Adlington, among others, with an 11% improvement in their oxygen economy, while reducing full body passive drag by up to 16.6%. Pretty remarkable considering the difference between a neck adorned with gold and empty hands can easily come down to a fraction of a second.
This comprehensive celebration of these coexisting worlds undoubtedly proves that the pursuit of progression will never tire. Who’s to say how fast, how high, or how far design will take athletes, when the line between true human ability and technological capacity is ever more difficult to distinguish. - Madeline Lee