New Netflix Series Brings Design to the Masses



abstract title card

On February 10, Netflix released a new series titled “Abstract: The Art of Design,” delving into the minds of some of the world’s biggest innovators in the design industry.

The term “Netflix and Chill” has become synonymous with a quiet night in. With its array of programming, from TV series to documentaries to foreign language films, Netflix has dominated the domestic viewing market. Shows like Stranger Things are making headlines and winning Golden Globes, and series that profile figures from niche industries, such as Chef’s Table, have proved hugely popular with viewers who want insight into the mind of the most talented in the world. Now designers can nerd out over their chosen field, too!

The series gathers together some of the design world best across a broad range of industries, from automotive to interior design and illustration. Eight 45 minute-long episodes were released in their entirety earlier this month, allowing us to accompany these designers as they talk us through their creative process, individual achievements, career highs and lows, and their design philosophy. For example, in his episode, Danish wunderkind Bjarke Ingels talks to us about his architectural philosophy, one which his studio BIG employs to push traditional architectural boundaries and challenge the limitations of the industry. But, on the other hand, Tinker Hatfield is the master of cool in his episode, which charts his rise at Nike and how he designed some of the brand’s most coveted, novel and collectable shoes, including the Nike Mag from Back To The Future, and the staple Nike Air Max. Much like Chef’s Table, each episode has its own narrative and aesthetic, crafted by different directors such as award-winning music documentarian Morgan Neville, who also produced the show in collaboration with WIRED creator Scott Dadich.

Abstract profiles the following creative masterminds: set designer Es Devlin, graphic designer Paula Scher, architect Bjarke Ingels, car designer Ralph Gilles, photographer Platon, interior designer Ilse Crawford, illustrator Christoph Niemann, and Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield.

paula scher

Image from www.sites.psu.edu

Photographer Platon

Image from www.designmilk.com

Ralph Gilles

Image from www.diariomotor.com

Abstract is the latest in a string of successful original programming by Netflix, who reach a global audience of more than 93 millions viewers in over 190 countries. Notable documentaries such as 2007’s Helvetica have propelled design into the mainstream, but never before has a show about design had the potential to be seen by so many people. The accessibility and comprehensiveness of Netflix series’ such as this one has proven to be a successful broadcasting model and is being replicated online in other formats too, such as in the subscription-based educational series Masterclass. This series encompasses lectures and workshops from creative talent in the dramatic arts, offering acting classes by Kevin Spacey and screenwriting classes by Aaron Sorkin. A Masterclass by starchitect Frank Gehry has recently been added to their roster, cementing the public interest in learning more about design from masters of the craft.

Reviews for Abstract have been generally positive thus far. The only downside? Design fans must have an existing Netflix subscription to watch. Will it be the next thing on your binge list?

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