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Thank you netflix :) Just one season with 8 episodes, but I think is a good start. A look beyond blueprints and computers into the art and science of design, showcasing great designers from every discipline whose work shapes our world.

If you hadn’t heard yet, Netflix recently released a series of eight 40-minute documentaries entitled Abstract: The Art of Design. It focuses in on the world’s most brilliant creatives and the projects that established them as the greatest cultural icons in modern history.

The series has divided critical opinion. Some have praised a show that has brought the creative worlds of eight leading designers into the view of a mainstream audience. Others have criticised the show for lacking a critical angle, for focusing too much on the personalities rather the work, and for perpetuating an unhelpful myth about design: namely that it is primarily about aesthetics (“art”) rather than problem-solving.

Abstract is best thought of as profiles of 8 different designers. What we learn about those designers’ professions, we learn by hearing their perspective — and in episodes where the perspective presented is quite limited, the viewer does feel that lack of insight. This first season profiled illustrator Christoph Niemann, Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield, stage designer Es Devlin, architect Bjarke Ingels, automotive designer Ralph Gilles, graphic designer Paula Scher, photographer Platon, and interior designer Ilse Crawford.

This was particularly noticeable in the episodes on stage designer Es Devlin and car designer Ralph Gilles. Emotionally, I was left in no doubt about their individual excellence, but intellectually, I didn’t learn much about their process, their teams, or the bigger picture of their disciplines. Put simply, some episodes of Abstract treat their subject too superficially, and as a result test the viewer’s patience.

To see Abstract: The Art of Design on Netflix, click here.

Tags: Design, Documentary


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