Abstract: The Art of Design. Courtesy of Netflix

Many times, I’m asked what inspires me when it comes to design, and often I refer to my favorite museums, movies or cities I have visited. Rarely have I said, “you have to check out this documentary!” with pure excitement in my voice, but I constantly find myself saying this about a Netflix original documentary series called “Abstract: The Art of Design”. What’s even more surprising is how little people know about it, especially design professionals. After watching this series, it not only helped me to appreciate other designers within their area of expertise, but I felt compelled to design the hell out of something…anything!

“Abstract: The Art of Design” premiered on Netflix, February 10, 2017, and was created by former Wired editor-in-chief, Scott Dadich. It is entirely shot in 4K HDR and it is described as “A look beyond blueprints and computers into the art and science of design, showcasing great designers from every discipline whose work shapes our world.” The eight-part documentary series takes you behind the scenes, but more importantly, into the minds of extremely talented people that are automobile, graphic and stage designers to name a few.

Tinker Hatfield, Nike Shoe Designer. Courtesy of Netflix

My initial draw to the series was to see the unconventional architect Bjark Ingels, and London based interior designer Ilse Crawford, but I found myself captivated by the others. While each of the artists stood out in their own way, a few of my favorites were Berlin-based Illustrator Christoph Niemann, the world’s foremost portrait photographer Platon, and legendary Nike designer, Tinker Hatfield. Hatfield was the master mind that created the Air Jordan III and the futuristic self-lacing shoes worn by Marty McFly in the 1989 film “Back to the Future Part II”, which both instantly became cult classics. What was even more surprising was that he graduated with a bachelor’s of architecture degree from the University of Oregon School of Architecture. 

Christoph Niemann, Illustrator. Courtesy of Netflix

We all know the toll it takes on a designer mentally and physically, but it was satisfying to know that I wasn’t the only one to tirelessly noodle over every detail, spend late nights in the office, or hit a mental block.  This documentary has only scratched the surface of what creativity has to offer and I do hope they create a second season. Next time you turn on your TV to watch a show or movie, flip over to a truly binge worthy show for artistic folks like us and get your creative juices flowing.

**The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the IIDA Mid Atlantic Chapter.**