the Plastic Design Collection

Permanent exhibition

A collection of around 2000 plastic objects (some of which have been exhibited and the rest are conserved in the reserve), from the most every day to unique items or original products to understand the 20th and 21th centuries.

A meeting with objects, in particular with those that were part of our daily lives: these objects that seem so ordinary to us, so practical and at the same time without being aware of how or why they were made, and furthermore, without imagining that they would one day become icons of an era, of a way of life and thinking about life.

Of the entire collection, built since the 1980s by the Brussels collector Philippe Decelle, 500 objects are exhibited in the permanent exhibition rooms at Design Museum Brussels. To show this creative landscape more accurately, there are also loans from international or private collections as well as donations.

Designed by architects as an extension of the permanent exhibition, the reserves are visible while obeying the strict conservation norms. Thus, the most curious may view the rest of the collection behind glass.


Everything began in 1987, when Philippe Decelle rescued a Universale, chair in plastics by the Italian designer Joe Colombo, from a dustbin. This led him to reflect on our society’s short memory, as yesterday’s iconic item becomes tomorrow’s rubbish. It prompted him to launch his Plasticarium collection in the heart of Brussels.

With these feeling, Philippe Decelle, went in search of anything made from plastic: everyday utensils, designer furniture, fashion creations, or even works of art. He thus ended up collecting more than 2000 plastic pieces dating from the end of the 1950s to the beginning of the 21st century, which were kept for years in Brussels city centre.

The collection, which takes the name of Plasticarium, includes items from every aspect of daily life but also original work by masters of design such as Joe Colombo, Verner Panton and Eero Aarnio, whereas fans of contemporary creations will see works by Philippe Starck, Charles Kaisin and several others, both known and unknown.

Long coveted by London, New York and Paris, the collection was finally acquired by Design Museum Brussels in 2014 with a view, on the one hand, to build its permanent collection and, on the other hand, to preserve and enhance this unique collection through a scientific and cultural project.


Designed by the architects as an extension of the permanent exhibition, the area housing the museum’s reserve collection can be seen by the visitors. However, the visibility of these spaces behind the scenes does not obstruct their main function as a place of conservation and research, principles on which every museum is founded. With this objective in mind, the items are arranged according to type of materials (PVC, ABS, PC, etc.) . The lighting is deliberately subdued, except in cases of specific activity, in order to limit any deterioration associated with exposure to light. The temperature and humidity level are likewise controlled, as plastic, like other materials, is affected by climatic variations.


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