Abstract: The Art of Design

Your next soothe-binge

via Netflix

I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes TV can stress me out. I get nervous about who’ll come out on top in Scandal, or who’ll get solitary confinement on Orange Is the New Black, or who’ll survive Game of Thrones — just kidding, no one survives. 

Abstract: The Art of Design is the remedy to that nervousness.

Netflix’s latest original documentary series follows a different type of designer in each of its eight episodes, and takes us through their career and creative process. It’s Chef’s Table and Planet Earth, but with designers. The show features illustrators, shoemakers, stage designers and more. 

But the show doesn’t just showcase your run-of-the-mill designers. It gives you THE designers. I’m talking about the guy who draws The New Yorker covers, the man behind Air Jordans and the woman who designs Kanye West’s concerts. Each designer has revolutionized their field in some way or another. Even if you don’t want to go into design, there are endless lessons of hard work and innovation to extract from the eight trailblazers featured.

The show also has an underlying storyline throughout its eight seemingly different episodes: societal implications on the art of design. While this may not sound particularly interesting on paper, hearing about how all design has been tailored to essentially fit into a square — that square being Instagram — is sure to calmly blow your mind just a little bit. As stage designer Es Devlin put it, the world of design rests so heavily on social media that it could be completely disrupted by “Instagram suddenly becoming a triangle.” Mind. Quietly. Blown. 

The show describes the more mundane aspects of design with the same enthusiasm, allowing the audience to understand the medium in an accessible way and still be armed with fun facts to impress friends.

While I love the show for its teaching abilities, Abstract’s greatest asset is its visuals. I can’t begin to describe how aesthetically beautiful this show is. Each episode is styled around the designer in focus, leading to eight distinctly stunning episodes. You’ll be amazed at the work you’re shown, no matter what your interests are. I can guarantee you’ll have a new appreciation for all eight types of design after this show, and you’ll also probably follow a bunch of the designers on Instagram because their feeds are BOMB. 

One of the other positives of this visual perfection is that the show allows you to set your brain on its lowest setting and let your senses do the work. It’s probably the closest TV there is to a nap in the sense that I come out of each episode recharged.  

I believe this rejuvenating sensation stems from the absence of stakes. It feels indescribably good not to have to worry about my favourite character dying or ruining their life. Watching someone calmly explain architecture with breathtaking visuals gives me the gust of wind I need to sit through another nail-biting episode of How to Get Away with Murder. 

If you have an hour here and there over the next few weeks, try to squeeze in Abstract. The show asks very little of you energy-wise, and still repays you with inspirational testimonies and artwork. It almost makes up for Netflix’s steadily-increasing monthly free.

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