V&A Furniture Gallery

What's it all about then? It's the first time the V&A has ever had a gallery devoted to furniture, despite the fact they've been collecting it for 150 years. Almost everything came from their stores, around 90%, and many of the items have not actually been seen in living memory.
So why now? Their research shows that people are fascinated by the way things are made so the collection is built around techniques and decoration - rather than say, big name designers. It's essentially the way furniture has been made in the West from around 1400 to now.
What will I see? The displays devoted to 'making' show variety (joinery, lacquer, veneering, inlay, gilding, turning, injection moulding) but also continuity (chairs and wardrobes always popular). And lots of juxtaposition. Yep, there is an Ikea bookcase standing just a breath away from a medieval book chest. 
Do I need to know my Jacobsen from my Jacobean? It's not a gallery of famous names, there's not masses of Modernism, it's more about the human story behind the furniture. There are some extraordinary pieces such as the Surrealist wardrobe and the ornate 17th century Parisian 'Marie de Medici' cabinet (both pictured).
Who's it for? Designers, makers, collectors, students, anyone who is interested in furniture and the way it is made - and those adventurous enough to make it up to the sixth floor. It's next to the Ceramics Gallery which is amazing, if you've never been: wall-to-wall tableware.
Look but don't touch? Keep away from the furniture or you'll set the alarms off. But there are digital labels to swipe through and interactive tables where you can touch the materials and information about them flashes up on screen. Danger of learning something: quite high.
V&A Furniture Gallery, opens 1st December.

Picture captions, clockwise from top left: The V&A's Furniture Gallery was designed by NORD Architecture; Plywood armchairs by Marcel Breuer (left, 1936) and Josef Hoffmann (right, 1908) with spotted 'Child Chair' (1964) made from flat-packed cardboard; 17th Century Parisian 'Marie de Medici' cabinet with ebony veneer and gilded brass plaques depicting scenes from a romantic poem; 20th Century hits: Ron Arad's 'Bookworm', Jasper Morrison's 'Ply-Chair' and Carlo Mollino's 'Arabesque' table; Wardrobe painted in 1939 by Eugene Berman, a Russian painter, stage designer and Surrealist; Decorative 19th Century armchair from India sits beneath Joe Colombo's 1963 Armchair.