Brain Pickings

The Genius of Design: A BBC Design Retrospective

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What plastic chairs have to do with German partisanship and how women use the kitchen.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the films have been pulled from Vimeo. Semi-fortunately, you can now catch the series, with questionable legality, on Chinese video portal Tudou, in English. We’ve swiftly navigated Mandarin drop-downs and updated the embeds below.

UPDATE 2: The Genius of Design is now available on DVD, sweet!

Last year’s cinematic design obsession was indisputably Objectified, director Gary Hustwit’s fantastic documentary about industrial design and all the ways in which it touches our daily lives. This year, the BBC is bringing us The Genius of Design — a new five-part documentary series exploring the broader history of design, from the Industrial Revolution through the Bauhaus of the 1920′s, the swinging 60′s, the fetishism of the 80′s, to today.

Though a “design documentary,” the series touches a diverse cross-section of disciplines, from art history to architecture to cultural anthropology.

From celebrity-status designers like Wedgwood and William Morris to the anonymous talent responsible for iconic designs like the cast-iron cooking pot, the series offers a remarkably wide-angle view of design not only as a creative discipline but also as a social facilitator. Treats include interviews with legendary designer Dieter Rams and archival footage of early industrial design production processes.

The first two hour-long episodes are available for free on Vimeo — and we guarantee they’ll be some of the best time investment you’ve made this year.

What makes the series particularly compelling is the ease with which it bridges historical context and present-day relevance, breathing a refreshing appreciation for the place and power of design even into those of us most immersed in it already.

The remaining three episodes will be released over the coming few weeks — so keep an eye out for an update.

UPDATE: All parts have been released and, thanks to Chinese video portal Tudou, we’ve embedded them below for your enjoyment.

PART 2: GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE

PART 3: BLUEPRINTS FOR WAR

PART 4: BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY

PART 5: OBJECTS OF DESIRE

via whiteboard journal

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