The Genius of Design: A BBC Design Retrospective
What plastic chairs have to do with German partisanship and how women use the kitchen.
By Maria Popova
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.
PART 2: GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE
PART 3: BLUEPRINTS FOR WAR
PART 4: BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY
PART 5: OBJECTS OF DESIRE
Published June 15, 2010