7 Design Documentaries To Spark Your Creativity

by Travis

7 Design Documentaries To Spark Your Creativity

It’s no secret that at Lifeblue we take one thing very seriously: saving the world from bad design. But what’s our second greatest passion? Movies. In fact, one pounder even claims he can speak movie quotes fluently! But when we want to eat popcorn AND learn something new at the same time - we love a good documentary. Here is a list of 7 inspiring documentaries that examine all aspects of design and creativity, from video games to 3D printing.

1-3. Gary Hustwit’s Design Trilogy - Helvetica (2007), Objectified (2009), Urbanized (2011)

Everyone loves a good trilogy: Star Wars: Episodes IV-VI, The Lord of the Rings, Back to the Future to name a few. But if you’re a design nerd like most of us are, there is only one trilogy to rule them all: Gary Hustwit’s Design Trilogy. This is the name given to a series of documentaries that tackle three major pillars of the design industry: Helvetica (typography and graphic design), Objectified (industrial design), and Urbanized (architecture and urban design). From the ridges on the end of a toothpick to the bike lanes of Bogotá, Colombia, this series does an exceptional job exploring how just about everything we encounter in our day-to-day lives has been designed by someone, somewhere. More importantly, it concludes in the final chapter that the power of design and creative thinking can be used not only to improve our lives through the products we use, but by transforming the cities we live in and how we live in them.

4. Indie Game: The Movie (2012)

Often the most rewarding part of launching a project is what we sometimes refer to at Lifeblue as “the grind”. The light at the end of the tunnel is visible, and although there may be some hurdles left to clear, everyone is firing on all cylinders in that final push to cross the finish line. Follow game developers Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes through their grind to launch the widely successful platformer Super Meat Boy, and the controversial Phil Fish as he struggles to make progress on his highly-anticipated puzzle game Fez. The film also interviews Jonathan Blow, creator of the highly-acclaimed Braid, as he reflects back on the success of the game and provides sage-like wisdom on the creative process and what it takes to succeed in the gaming industry.

5. Art & Copy (2009)

You’ve heard the slogans: “Just Do It,” “Think Different,” “Got Milk?”. But do you know the stories and the faces behind them? Art & Copy takes an in-depth look at the advertising revolution of the 1960s that started when one agency exec decided to put the copywriter and the art director in the same room. That sounds like a no-brainer today, but it was revolutionary at the time, and it turned advertisements from dull and uninspired blocks of copy into works of art that deeply ingrained in the fabric of our culture. Meet some of the greatest creators and thinkers in the industry as they tell their stories and shed light on the origins of some of the most iconic pieces of advertisement from the last several decades.

6. Print the Legend (2014)

Getting an up close look at the sweat equity that makes a startup company successful can often provide a quick-fix when you’re lacking motivation and need some encouragement to stick with it. Netflix’s Print the Legend offers a look at the 3D printing industry when startups everywhere were racing to bring the technology into your living room. MakerBot was the clear favorite in the early 2010s, with their charismatic leader Bre Pettis quickly becoming the Steve Jobs of 3D printing. Follow MakerBot as they go from a small warehouse space in Brooklyn to occupying the entire 21st floor of a large office complex nearly overnight. The film also follows the underdog startup Formlabs as they try to break into the marketplace with their higher-quality home unit, and takes a look at the controversial story of Cody Wilson and his use of the technology to make the first ever 3D-printed gun.

7. Abstract: The Art of Design (2017)

Similar to Hustwit’s Design Trilogy - the Netflix docu-series Abstract: The Art of Design examines several designers across a wide-spectrum of disciplines. Each episode profiles a different designer, from Tinker Hatfield - the man behind the success of Nike’s Air Jordan line, to the captivating stage designs of Es Devlin, who’s kinetic sculptures and dynamic set designs have shared the stage with everyone from the Royal Shakespeare Company to Beyoncé. The series does an excellent job tailoring the look and feel of each episode to match the designer they are profiling, making one feel unique and different from the next. With 8 episodes in total, you could even binge watch the entire series in one sitting!

Did we miss any? Let us know here or find us on Twitter @lifeblue and send us your recommendations!