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Here at Start, design runs in our DNA. We’re obsessed with it. As a web design and digital marketing agency, we design on a daily basis for a broad range of businesses including ours. When we’re not designing something/anything, we’re likely to be reading books and listening to podcasts about design. Although less frequently, we also watch documentaries and series about design too. After a big weekend of streaming, we feel now is the perfect opportunity to share these 10 documentaries all designers must see!

1. Abstract: The Art of Design

Netflix Original Abstract: The Art of Design, is a doco that inspects the minds of innovative designers from a variety of disciplines and explores how design impacts every aspect of life – without us even knowing it.

The documentary stars many design elites including New-York’s illustrator Christoph Niemann, Tinker Hatfield who is most notably known for his involvement in developing the Air Jordan 3 series and Paula Scher, who is widely regarded as one of the most influential graphic designers in the world.

The first season was released in February 2017, the second in September 2019. The Art of Design is entertaining, informative and, importantly for a design series, beautifully shot.

If you’ve got a Netflix account, be sure to add Abstract: The Art of Design into your My List right now!

2. Helvetica

Helvetica is a documentary about graphic design, typography and visual culture with a particular focus on the Helvetica typeface. Part 2 of the Design Trilogy by Gary Hustwit, this documentary explores the influence the typeface has had on our lives. *Hint, Helvetica is used everywhere!

Whilst exploring the history of Helvetica, the documentary includes interviews with leading graphic and type designers including Massimo Vignelli, Rick Poynor, Matthew Cartera and Michael Bierut. What’s more, it dives deep into the typeface’s beauty and explores its criticism driven by the rift between modernist and postmodernist ideologies.

Helvetica can be watched on Amazon. If you’re someone who really appreciates typography, Helvetica is a perfect documentary for you.

3. Squaring the Circle

Legendary photographer and filmmaker Anton Corbijn directs this doco about Hipgnosis, the creative duo Aubrey “Po” Powell and Storm Thorgerson who revolutionised album cover art. Working with legends like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Paul McCartney, they transformed album covers into vital, enigmatic, and surreal art forms. Rooted in 1960s counterculture, their work shaped the visual identity of rock music in the 70s. With humour and high art, they made album covers the cherished art collections of the working class. They’re one of the reasons we have so many albums on display in the Start office 🙂

4. Objectified

Created by Gary Hustwit in 2009, Objectified examines the role in which everyday non-living objects and the designers responsible for them, influence our lives. Exploring toothbrushes to complex technological devices, Objectified goes deep into the creativity involved with manufactured objects.

Consisting of footage and in-depth conversations, the feature-length documentary uncovers the creative processes of a selection of influential product designers. Jony Ive: the Senior VP Industrial Design of Apple, Chris Bangle: the former Design Director of BMW Group, Paola Antonelli: the Design Curator of the Museum of Modern Art and Rob Walker of the New York Times Magazine, are just a few who make an appearance in Objectified.

Objectified can be watched on Amazon. Objectified is definitely one to watch.

5. Bauhaus Spirit

This dynamic documentary explores the revolutionary impact the Bauhaus movement had on design and architecture. Founded in 1919, Bauhaus mixed art, design, and architecture, creating an artistic utopia that still shapes much of today’s culture and architecture. This documentary captures Bauhaus’s bold journey of statements, failures, and renewals, linking its legacy to modern challenges and asking: How do we want to live and where are we heading?

6. Urbanized

An extremely insightful documentary, this feature-length is all about the design of cities. Urbanized explores the issues and strategies behind urban design and features some of the world’s more foremost architects, policy-makers, builders and thinkers.

At 85 minutes long, the documentary which was released in 2011, offers invaluable and almost mind-boggling insight into how design has, is and will forever influence, billions of lives. It’s remarkably eye-opening to how design and the relevant designers in the form of architects, builders, city-makers, policy-makers, thinkers and more, will determine the future of these urban cities and ultimately, the prosperity of society.

Urbanized is the final documentary to the Design Trilogy by Gary Hustwit and much like its counterparts, it can be watched on Amazon and iTunes. Honestly, we couldn’t recommend Urbanized any more: the documentary should be watched by everyone!

7. The Toys That Made Us

Narrated by Donald Ian Black, The Toys That Made Us focuses on the individuals behind the creation of iconic franchises such as Barbie, G.I. Joe, Lego, Star Wars and Transformers.

The Toys That Made Us is an office favourite partially because we’re obsessed with figurines. (From Groot to Star Wars – we have more figures than a grown adult should) But mostly because design is so interwoven into pop culture and consequently these franchises.

There are currently 2 seasons of The Toys That Made Us. Each season compromises of 4 episodes each that range from 40 to 50 minutes long. Earlier on this year during San Diego Comic-Con, the team behind The Toys That Made Us made us geek out by confirming an upcoming season 3 that will focus on the Power Rangers, My Little Pony, WWE and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

If you’re a big pop-culture fan like us, The Toys That Made Us is a series that you don’t want to miss out on. The Toys That Made Us can be streamed on Netflix.

8. Design Disruptors

In 2016 product design collaboration platform InVision, released their 1 hour and 15-minute-long documentary Design Disruptors which focuses on the increasing importance of design as a competitive advantage in disruptive technology.

The documentary explores how influential companies such as Airbnb, Facebook, Netflix, Pinterest and Spotify have put design first and consequently transformed how we conduct our everyday activities. Furthermore, the beautifully shot content weaves together inspirational stories of designers who opposed the status quo and by doing so, dramatically impacted their industries and the entire world.

Additionally, Design Disruptors includes insights from experts such as Katie Dill: the Director of Experience Design at Airbnb, Julie Zhuo: the Vice President of Product Design at Facebook, Frank Yoo: the ‎Director of UX and Product Design for Lyft, Andy Law: the Lead Mobile Product Designer at Netflix and Tobias Van Schneider: the Former Lead Product Designer and Art Director at Spotify.

Design Disruptors is a super inspirational documentary and one that anyone vaguely interested in the role design plays in business, must check it out! The documentary can be watched through

9. Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight

Released back in 2009, Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight examines the life and work of foremost graphic designer Milton Glaser. With work spanning from newspaper, logos, brand identifies, interior spaces, paintings, prints and much more, Glaser is the creative mind responsible for Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits album cover, I Love NY More than Ever, the DC Comics logo amongst much more.

The 73-minute-long documentary does a splendid job at capturing the life of the famous Milton Glaser but more notably, the never-ending depth to his inspiring creativity. Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight can be watched on Vimeo, iTunes, Amazon and YouTube.

If you’re someone who aspires to be a creative force that’s to be reckoned with, this documentary must be watched!

10. Amazing Interiors

Amazing Interiors is exactly like you’d imagine it to be. A show that explores houses which appear to be ordinary based on their exterior but are actually, extraordinary on the inside.

All of the properties shown have been transformed by their owners and transformed remarkably. For example, Bruce and Melaine Rosenbaum from Massachusetts, turned an old church into a steampunk-themed house whilst UK couple Joel and Rosie turned an old boat into a beautiful home.

Living true to the cliché, never judge a book by its cover, Amazing Interiors is a must watch even if you’re not into design. With only 1 season comprising of 12 episodes, approximately around 25 minutes long, Amazing Interiors is a binge-worthy show. Yes, it’s that good! Amazing Interiors can be streamed on Netflix.

If you make it through the list and want more recommendations, holler at us because we’ve gotlots more. Alternatively, if your business needs help relating to design whether web design, logo or even social media, drop us a line at [email protected].