“Abstract: The Art of Design” is a new series on Netflix which follows the success and format of “Chef’s Table” by giving eight designers a similar documentary treatment. These designers range greatly in discipline, from graphic designers (like me!), to stage designers, photographers and more. The broad scope of this subject matter inevitably means different people will appreciate certain episodes more than others. While I obviously did enjoy the graphic design episode with Paula Scher, I found some of the others to be a bit more insightful and interesting. These are a few of my favourites:
Christoph Niemann: Illustrator
Before viewing this episode I was not at all familiar with the illustration of Niemann. But through the episode’s creative animations and innovative drawings I fell in love with his work and the reluctant, bookish personality of the artist. His cover work for The New Yorker is terrific, as is his popular Instagram account: @abstractsunday.
Bjarke Ingels: Architect
This profile of the impressively accomplished (and young) Danish architect serves as a real inspirational kick in the pants. As the 42 year old principal of BIG, Ingels has designed eye-popping buildings around the globe. Notably, his work is soon to be featured in the local skyline, as his Telus Sky tower is currently under construction in downtown Calgary.
Tinker Hatfield: Shoe Designer
I had no idea that there was a single man behind so many of the iconic Nike designs of the 90’s, like the Air Max and most of the Air Jordan line. More than any other designer featured, I found the work of Hatfield to transcend his medium and impact culture on a greater scale – and that is the type of designer I’d love to see more of in future seasons of Abstract. This episode also dug deepest into the personality of the designer, exposing the unique person behind all those shoes. Of the eight people profiled throughout the series Tinker is definitely the dude I’d most like to sit down for a beer with.
While the series isn’t without its duds (the renowned car design of Chrysler? Huh?), it’s refreshing to see design on a stage for mass consumption. I’m excited to see future seasons, and projects like the Design Canada documentary, celebrating the value of good design in front of even larger audiences. And as the interest and appreciation of all types of design grows, who knows where we’ll see this dialogue on design appear in the future?
Let’s hope everywhere.
“Abstract: The Art of Design” is currently available on Netflix.