Netflix Original Series: Abstract

Since moving to Toronto almost two months ago, design is something I’ve become enamored with. I’ve always been fascinated by and loved fashion, however, I’ll never be the person who’s well-dressed every single day. Neat, tidy, and at least wearing mascara every day yes, but I’ll never be able to keep up with fashion blogging as  women like Chiara Ferragni do. How fashion bloggers take all those photos and can find boundless inspiration in clothing–and then write five hundred words about it–I’ll never know.


I’m more interested in how design influences media and marketing; how design can be created digitally and unleashed on platforms such as websites, Instagram, Facebook, and dispersed via other streams to help market brands and products. I’m interested in how illustrators and artists help create digital media concepts and strategies. On a different level I’m interested in restaurant and menu design; as a bartender I’m interested in how bars are designed and how the of a restaurant or a lounge may be centred around the focal point of the bartender.


“All messages are different, and they’re everywhere.” Paula Scher


While thinking about all these things in bed, and while also looking for a tv series to get started on, I stumbled across the Netflix Original Series Abstract. Abstract is a documentary series about “The art and science of design.” According to Netflix, Abstract invites the view to “Step insid the minds of te most innovate designers in a variety of disciplines and learn how design impacts every aspect of life.”


This sounded perfect.


Watch the trailer via this link


The documentary series covers an array of artists and designers from stage designers to shoe designers to graphic designers and everything beyond and in-between. Airing earlier this year in February, big names like  Paula Scher and Tinker Hatfield, Abstract shows how these creative thinkers approach their work, got started, and continue to innovate in their fields. I loved it because it helped explain parts of design that I never though about, or could begin to imagine because I simply didn’t know enough about design. For laymen this is a great series to begin thinking about design in all it’s various and nuanced facets.


Like anything, criticisms have been leveled at Abstract on a number of fronts. Quartz Magazine writes “Abstract‘s biggest folly is its premise. It starts with the title. The word “abstract” is a term that aptly describes the evocative work of artists such as Jackson Pollock and Wassily Kandinsky, but is totally wrong for design. Designers, in fact, are obsessed with the concrete: specs, measurements, budgets, deadlines, and countless other details. A designer’s creativity is always directed—the quest is to materialize elegant ideas to beautiful forms.”


One particularly interesting review is by Design Lab that goes through each episode and a short background of each particular designer. Spoilers undoubtedly included, but a great read for anyone who doesn’t want to commit to the entire series and see who’s involved.


Part of the series can be overly-dramatized and some of the narratives sound like stories you’ve heard before, but for anyone looking to begin a new series I would recommend Abstract, especially if you’re into design and want to learn more.

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