I binge-watched this series in one weekend (in between packing for my design studio's big move). Somewhere along the way, I felt this realization come over me that this series, Abstract - The Art of Design, was truly showing the world the importance of good design and the processes and personalities of the uniquely talented people that create it.
I’m sharing some tidbits here today to tempt you. If you love and appreciate art and design, this series is not to be missed.
Each of the 8 episodes features a different designer and walks with them as they explain and share their medium, process, and point of view. Each can be seen separately and in any order you wish.
That’s probably how I’d recommend viewing them, in order of interest, although all have unexpected truths revealed that you won’t want to miss. Some episodes were better than others and frankly, the interior designer’s episode was probably the least exciting of the lot, which was a bit of a disappointment for me.
Honestly though, I think this should be seen in every high school in America, if nothing else, than just to show our youth that there are people out there living their dreams in creative fields.
I’ve taken a few notes, and I’m sharing a few significant quotes below.
One unique, shared characteristic among them was that most of these designers put pen to paper or used older, more traditional methods in the creative process. Okay, one of them is 40 and the rest somewhat older, but really, that basic skill of being able to sketch ideas was a unifying talent. Hmmm, I've discussed this phenomenon before.
Platon, the photographer, uses a film camera, not digital. Es Devlin, the set designer starts with a blank desk, blank paper and pen, as does illustrator, Christoph Niemann. Even the automotive designer, Ralph Gilles, who now is head of design of Fiat Chrysler products, started his journey drawing cars.
“It’s delightful to see so much money thrown at people who, almost unanimously, think best with a pen and a pad of paper.” via Curbed
The designer that surprised and impressed me most, was Paula Scher, the graphic designer. I’m not a font nerd, but I might become one after seeing her episode. There’s so much creativity there. She really demonstrated how so much information can be shared by simply playing with the style of letters. Although much of her work is done on a computer now, she still has to do the tactile, pen to paper activity. To scratch that itch, she now creates incredible art maps with typography. They are stunning!
(I think I want to be Paula Scher when I grow up.)
Platon, the photographer featured, had an inspiring episode. He's photographed world leaders, celebrities, and societies in distress, including the women of the Congo.
The architect, Bjarke Ingels, has created projects that have such a unique blending of purpose, functionality, and good design. The neighborhoods created within some of his structures, no doubt, are a special environment in which to live. He's truly stirred up the world of architecture.
Tinker Hatfield, the footwear designer, was quite intriguing. He just so succinctly imbued a shoe with the personality, style, and athleticism of Michael Jordan, the collaboration between them was remarkable and so effective.
Christoph Niemann, the illustrator, has an amazing Instagram account. He's produced many covers for the New Yorker.
I wanted to cheer when I heard Es Devlin, stage designer for celebrities such as Beyonce, Adele, U2, as well as classic Shakespearean theater, say this about working out a design. In this quote, she's referring to viewing something in plan view. It's often in plan view where I find the best design solutions become apparent.
Lastly, there was an interior designer, Ilse Crawford, who primarily does commercial spaces like hotels, restaurants, shops, and now, products for Ikea. She came to design by way of a history and architecture history degree and then rising to Editor of Elle Decoration magazine in the UK before starting her design firm, Studioilse. Her projects are thoughtful and have an emphasis on creating a strong sense of well-being for the end user.
If you love design, this series is a must-see. Pick one and just start.