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Documentaries Every Designer Should Watch At Least Once In Their Life

By Eva Barnes , Aug 29 2017

Featured Image: iStock/RadomanDurkovic

The life, struggle and job of a designer is never easy, because it isn’t made up of, neither does is depend on, solely one thing. When creating a design, a designer isn’t just creating what he wants but something that has to be aesthetically appealing, unique, trendy, lasting, functional, and above all something that suits the client’s taste. Creating something of that level requires a certain set of skills, a ton of creativity, a regular dose of inspiration, and a sharp mind that can improvise, depending on the limitations.

We can’t tell you how to live your life as a designer or how you should be designing your projects, because there isn’t one particular way to do it. However, we can show you how some other individuals very like yourself, aced such hurdles and challenges; you never know maybe along the way you’ll get an idea for your next project.

After watching numerous documentaries and much research, we were able to narrow down to 24 documentaries that you should watch. In fact this list is not just for you designers, but also for wannabe designers, artists, painters, craftsmen, DIYers and creative enthusiasts.

Grab a bowl of popcorn, get on the couch and start binge watching these fascinating documentaries…

1. Design And Thinking

Released in June 2012, the documentary Design and Thinking by Muris, in collaboration with Taipei Design Center U.S., focuses on the design thinking — its application, impact and everything in between. Roped into this project are some important designers, businessmen, social change makers and some unconventional minds including David Kelley, Richard Grefé and Susan S. Szenasy.

2. Connecting – Trends In UI, Interaction, & Experience Design

A must see 18 minute documentary for all web designers, that explores the industry’s challenges, trends and advice on creating interactive user interfaces that provide a great user experience.

It’s perfect for those who want to learn more about the digital space mixing with the real world.

3. Abstract: The Art Of Design

Divided into eight episodes this Netflix original documentary focuses on a different form of design in each part; with the stories and narrative of some elite designers. Illustration is covered by Christoph Niemann, Footwear Design by Tinker Hatfield, Stage Design by Es Devlin, Architecture by Bjarke Ingels, Automotive Design by Ralph Gilles, Graphic Design by Paula Scher, Photography by Platon, and Interior Design by Ilse Crawford.

4. The Artist Series By Hillman Curtis

Featuring prominent designers like David Carson, Milton Glaser, Stefan Sagmeister and Paula Scher, The Artist Series explores the technical end (video, image and music creation) of filmmaking in greater detail.

5. Eames: The Architect And The Painter

The subjects of this documentary are the husband-and-wife duo, Charles (the architect) and Ray (the painter) Eames. Narrated by James Franco, Eames: The Architect and the Painter, focuses on the couple’s collaboration in their careers as industrial designers, their projects and challenges.

6. PressPausePlay (2011)

The digital revolution in the last decade has opened a world of opportunities for the creative by lowering the barriers to entry in the fields of music, literature, art, etc. simply by bringing everything to the digital space. Interviews, stories and more…

7. Drew: The Man Behind The Poster (2013)

Sharing the career story of the famous Artist and Illustrator Drew Struzan, through exclusive interviews with renowned filmmakers, actors, artists and critics including Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Michael J. Fox and Guillermo del Toro.

The film showcases Drew’s journey from his earliest works to his most famous ones, and then to the projects he has now taken up after retirement.

Something interesting that you should know about Drew is that, he is the man behind the amazing movie posters of Indiana Jones, the Star Wars trilogies and Back to the Future.

8. Design Is One: Lella And Massimo Vignelli

The film is based on the multi-talented designer couple Lella and Massimo Vignelli who had their fingers in many pies. Their career spanned over 40 years, during which they earned many awards in the fields of industrial, product, graphic, interior, furniture design and much more.

9. Design The New Business

The film Design the New Business, surveys how in design and business are coming together, to find new ways to counter the challenges faced by businesses and individuals today.

10. Helvetica

Filmmaker Gary Hustwit’s Helvetica, released in 2007 on the 50th birthday of the typeface (of the same name). It explores the spread of Helvetica and it effect on global visual culture and our lives.

The film spans across seven counties (United States, England, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland) in two different continents, exploring the usage and impact of Helvetica on their psychology, advertising, graphic design and communication.

It further includes the interviews of some A-listers of the design world including Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter, Massimo Vignelli, Hermann Zapf, Stefan Sagmeister, Michael Bierut, David Carson, Alfred Hoffmann, Mike Parker, Bruno Steinert, Lars Müller and more.

11. Art & Copy

Art & Copy is fascinating documentary about the advertising industry that keep you hooked till the last second. Also, after watching all the work, effort and the fierce creativity put in creating adverts and commercials, you will start seeing them in a whole new light.

12. Print The Legend

A Netflix Original about the recent tech revolution and advancement in 3D printing and design, along with its current applications and its scope for development in the future, or in other words, its plausible growth.

13. Cutie And The Boxer

Rueful, whimsical and utterly touching, this film showcases the marriage of the somewhat eccentric Japanese couple, the artist and boxer Ushio Shinohara with Noriko. His struggles and perseverance, and her endless support for him; through the tough times, tears and sacrifices, as well as through their collaboration in work.

14. Indie Game: The Movie

Witnessing the journey of the indie game developers – their passions and reasons as they create the game and launch it without any idea of how it would fare. You’ll have to watch the documentary to hear the rest.

Related Article: 15 Design Elements That Make Online Gaming So Addictive!

15. Objectified

Objectified is a feature-length documentary that travels through the function and impact of everyday consumer items – their creation and makes. Design, self-expression, the idea, deeper understanding into the need for these objects and a lot more to enthrall you.

16. A128

An extensive documentary about Illustration and everything relevant to it, including art, music and the design process. Along with advice from different illustrators and instructors, as well as their personal views on this form of visual interpretation.

17. Dior And I

Sneak a peek behind the scenes into the adrenaline-coursing demanding world of fashion, as everyone in the House of Dior races to get Raf Simons’s collection out the door and on the runway; but Dior and I isn’t just about creating the best designs, presenting it also something to look into.

18. The September Issue

Every year fashionistas desperately await for Autumn so they can get their hands on the fashion bible’s greatly anticipated September Issue to drive their fashion choices through year. This documentary will give you a look into the inner workings of the magazine, as the staff labors round the clock with their legendary Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, to create the September Issue.

19. Maker

Maker focuses on The Make Movement aka the Third Industrial Revolution and its effects on the economy, culture and the society. You’ll get acquainted with many makers, inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs and game changers through this riveting documentary; so start watching!

20. The Director: An Evolution In Three Acts (2013)

James Franco with Christina A. Voros, with a few others, went on to produce this documentary about the work of Italian fashion designer Frida Giannini, as the creative director of Gucci; Her great involvement in finalizing and directing everything, from the clothes to the models to the runway shows and anything to everything else there is.

21. Beautiful Losers

Beautiful Losers showcases the work, lives and careers of young eccentric designers and artists whose unconventional paths and unstoppable creativity enabled them to leave their mark on the world.

22. Rivers And Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time

Based on the work of Andy Goldsworthy who created large-scale artworks, outdoor sculptures and masterpieces in natural settings, simply out of various elements of nature he’d found.

23. Designers Inbetween (2015)

Designers Inbetween will take you on a trip through Hong Kong’s expanding creative industry to explore the opportunities, startups and much more, while meeting passionate innovators, designers and businessman on the way on the way.

24. The Modern Russian Design

Exploring the Russia’s design industry over a period of two decades, through the evolution in culture and the creative industry, and the work of individuals who are devoting their lives to design.

If you have any suggestions about some documentary you would’ve liked to see in this list, then comment below!

About The Author

Eva is a marketing major with a keen interest in web design. She is also an explorer and loves to dig into web trends from mobile apps to visual communication and everything in between. Feel free to send her your web design queries or blog related feedback in the comments below.

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