Unforgettable Lessons for Designers Packed In 12 Documentaries

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Design is more overwhelming than we imagine and there is a story behind the visual culture that we see around us. Today we face a challenge of designing for the future world. Designing successful products and services in the digital age requires a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in interaction design, visual design, industrial design, and other disciplines. The best place to learn all that is from the legacy and the treasure left behind by the designers of the past who had a foresight and the vision to think ahead of their time. Here’s how designers can learn from the following compilation of their work:

1.Twenty Seven

Twenty-Seven is one-of-kind feature length documentary about Auburn University’s Graphic Design Program that showcases senior project class of Spring 2013. It takes a look at the program and how it separates itself among others as a top tier college. Check out the video that presents seniors in their last semester as a graphic design students. The video will inspire new talent and students who are on their way to make career decisions.


Now this is a snippet from a much-talked about film that is shown in perhaps every design school. It’s Helvetia, the infamous typeface that took the graphic industry by storm and became a part of our visual culture. This documentary explores the way type affects our lives and invites us to take a second look at the thousands of words we see every day. Indeed Helvetica is the most inescapable typeface. But the question is why Helvetica? This is the typeface that displays absolute clarity in print.

3.Design is one: Lella & Massimo vignelli

The husband and wife duo has some remarkable contribution to the modern design industry. “If you can’t find it, design it” is the motto of the Vignellis, the most influential designers who brought Italian flavor to graphics and interior designs. Kathy Brew & Roberto Guerra’s film brings us into the Vignellis’ world, capturing their intelligence and creativity, as well as their humanity, warmth, and humor.

4.Art and Copy

So far the documentaries covered product and graphic design techniques and how the visual culture around us is shaped but now let’s delve deeper into the iconic campaigns. We will explores the sources of inspiration for the creative in the advertising world who came with unforgettable slogans like “Just do it”, “Think Different” and created an instant connection with the consumer. Now this documentary takes a slightly different approach to shed some light on consumer behavior and their responses.

5.Design and thinking

Design thinking is apparently a new idea gaining acceptance in the world. So what impact does Design Thinking has on the world as a whole? Design Thinking was applied as a term and methodology by a design firm in 2008. It eventually caught attention and became a tool that everyone from business owners to software engineers could use to solve problems. It’s a pretty handy approach for startups who wish to reduce the cost of possible failures so that get back up and succeed. Check out how the creative people of the world are applying the various stages of design thinking.

6.Bauhaus: The Face of the Twentieth Century – Ovation

The Bauhaus Movement of the early 19th century left a far-reaching influence on modern design and architecture. Take a closer look at the most famous school of architecture, its key artistic figures, and how their design remain timeless.

“Let us create the new building of the future together; it will combine architecture, sculpture, and painting in a single form”. With this vision, Walter Gropius, in 1919, opened the Staatliche Bauhaus Weimar, which was to become one of the most influential schools of art, design and architecture from Dessau to Chicago.

7.Between the Folds

The fascinating art of origami will riddle your eyes for you will see what pleats do when they express. It compares to no other art of sculpting. This documentary “Between the Folds” takes us to the heart of paper folding, a passion that made scientists and artists give up their careers and take origami as a full-time profession. Besides passion, it also serves as a learning for designers who wish to understand geometrical shapes in 3D through the patterns it creates.


So far we listed the documentaries that tell how people from creative professions can hone their skills. But there is one documentary in particular that features the work of a photographer Chris Jordan who captured an environmental tragedy that most of us are unaware of. The message he highlights in his documentary is a wakeup call for the entire humanity. However, the way it’s presented makes it a true inspiration for the new generation artists and designers who are aspiring to create a difference with their work. In this video, you will see a short portion of the Midway film project.

9.Indie Game

The movie is a feature documentary about video games, their creators and the craft. The film follows the dramatic journeys of indie game developers as they create their games, and as they release those works, and themselves, to the world. It will serve as an incredible encouragement for game developers especially the freelancers who feel uncertain about the future of this industry. We are sharing with you all a glimpse of a movie that explores the creative process behind video game design and development. Take a look!


A new documentary that came from the makers of Helvetica explores that design of urban centers of the world. Everything a city holds has been designed but we pay little or no attention to it. This documentary uses a framework to contextualize its discussion of urban planning and design, which helps humanize what some people see as boring intellectual topics. Indeed urban design is the language of the city.


Objectified is a documentary feature that shows how the design of various objects is conceived to serve both aesthetics and functionality. Obviously, the process is not so simple, it requires ideas upon ideas and creative imagination of several professionals. These guys are not just designing our world but also our future so there’s a lot on their shoulders.

12.Beautiful Losers

The art and design world can count the name of the legends on their fingers who achieved great heights in the mainstream industry. But there were some who never got any formal education in design but still contributed artistically to our visual environment. This documentary is for all the street artists (known or unknown) who were part of the DIY movement of the 1990s.

The creative profession is not just about art; it involves some science as well. As designers you can master the tools and techniques with time but in order to find direction in design, you need inspiration and learn from the pros. How will you contribute towards the future of design? Can you think of any other movies or documentaries to recommend to other designers? Share it with us.

Mehreen is a social media buff and design blogger, who keeps a keen eye on graphic design trends. She has a passion for experimenting with design ideas, and wouldn’t mind if it means going out of her way to find them in Timbuktu. Follow her on twitter for daily inspirations and findings.

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