The V&A will open its new Dr Susan Weber Gallery in December, providing a permanent home for the Museum's internationally renowned furniture collection.
Designed by NORD Architecture, the gallery will display more than 200 outstanding pieces of British and European furniture, from the Middle Ages to the present day, as well as examples of American and Asian furniture and will examine in detail the range of materials and techniques employed for each piece.
The gallery will tell the story of how furniture was made and decorated over 600 years, exploring a thematic range of materials and techniques ranging from joinery, moulding, upholstery and digital manufacture, to carving, marquetry, gilding and lacquer. It will focus on techniques of construction and decoration and will include numerous examples of how conservation and analysis have revealed previously unknown information about the way in which the objects were made.
On display will be a 15th-century medieval desk cupboard which reveals how English furniture makers of the time used oak sourced from 1500 miles away, and a bureau (1780-1820) from Mexico, veneered with mother-of-pearl which would have required craftsmen to saw shells for 5000 hours.
Highlights will include a dining chair designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1949), a gilded cassone made for the Duke of Urbino (about 1509) and a scagliola decorated table formerly at Warwick Castle (1675). A central chronological display will highlight 25 key pieces from the collection ranging from a storage unit by Charles and Ray Eames (1949-50), a Gothic revival cradle designed by Richard Norman Shaw (1861) to one of the newest pieces in the collection, the 'Branca' chair, designed by Industrial Facility (2011) and Wooden Heap, a drawer unit designed by Boris Dennler, which was acquired as part of this year's Design Fund to Benefit the V&A. There will also be a newly-commissioned seating installation by contemporary designer Gitta Gschwendtner, inspired by historic pieces in the collection.
The gallery will incorporate innovative and interactive technologies such as digital labels with a touch-screen interface to provide additional content and context for each object. Films in the gallery will explore key techniques including joinery, boulle marquetry and digital manufacturing. 14 specially-commissioned audio recordings will record the responses of contemporary experts, including David Adjaye and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, to the work of historic designers.