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11 documentaries designers should add to their watch list

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11 documentaries designers should add to their watch list

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11 Documentaries Designers Should Add to Their Watch List

Designers continually draw inspiration from various sources — and watching documentaries can be a great way to stimulate the creative process. The following 11 documentaries specifically focus on the world of design, giving insight into the creative process. Expand your knowledge and perspective by adding them to your watch list.

1. Design Disruptors

This documentary follows 15 of the world’s most valuable design disruptors such as AirBnB, Instagram and Uber. It focuses on the phenomenon of user-driven design. Watching this documentary will inspire any designer to explore their creative potential in the modern-day.

2. Objectified

This 2009 documentary was directed by Gary Hustwit, creator of world-renowned design classics – The International Typographic Style and Helvetica. Through interviews with renowned aluminum bottle manufacturer Raymond Loewy, Procter and Gamble’s design director and Dieter Rams influence will challenge your view on design.

3. Graphic Means

This documentary gives a first-hand account of how the world of graphic design used to be before the digital age — back when a layout was done with paper and tools of the trade included typewriters, waxers and stat cameras. Graphic Means will inspire you to explore and appreciate the timeless rules of graphic design.

4. Object Stories

This short documentary follows four Austrian design-thinking experts and follows the stories behind the works of a hammer, a slalom cup, a chair and a doll. As a designer, you’ll appreciate the practical example of how best to employ design thinking principles.

5. Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman

Get an infusion of creativity by watching this film inspired by the work of Julius Shulman, the man behind some of the most iconic architecture images ever captured. Through interviews with Shulman and others, you’ll gain a better understanding of the power of design in the built environment.

6. Abstract: The Art of Design

This inspiring eight-episode series celebrates artists, designers and architects as it captures their creative processes. Any designer will enjoy immersing themselves in the works of top creatives, such as Bjarke Ingels and Ralph Gilles, to gain insight into their design-thinking.

7. Design & Thinking

This documentary explores how the design-thinking process is used in non-design-related companies, inspiring viewers to think more practically and holistically about design. Design & Thinking also gives insight into how to use design to improve processes, products and services.

8. Eames: The Architect and the Painter

This intimate portrait observation of husband and wife duo Charles and Ray Eames offers the audience a better understanding of the creative partnership behind their iconic design classics. It’s a must-watch for any designer, as it will give you a deeper appreciation for the power of design in making everyday life better.

9. Helvetica

This documentary offers an intimate examination into the significance of the Helvetica typeface and its use in modern culture. From the ridiculous to the sublime, Helvetica will give any designer a greater appreciation of form and the geometry of type.

10. Design Is One: Lella and Massimo Vignelli

Design is One explores the unique working practice of legendary design duo, Lella and Massimo Vignelli. Exploring the various aspects of their design process, viewers can better understand the true value of modern design and the impact of individual styles on the world of design.

11. Sign Painters

Sign Painters is a tribute to the art of hand-painted signs — at risk of being lost in a world of digital media and technology. The documentary covers a variety of stories from exceptional sign painters as well as renowned typographers, to provide an appreciation for a craft that is disappearing.


The world of design has always been a fascinating one – and these documentaries offer an inspirational glimpse into the design process and its greater impact on society. Whether you are a seasoned pro or an aspiring designer, add these 11 documentaries to your watch list for a better understanding of the true power of design.

Designers are creative, imaginative, and inspired individuals that have a unique vision. They frequently look to external sources for guidance, whether it be inspiration, educational guidance, or emotional motivation. Documentaries are an incredible source of information and can shape a designer’s opinions, outlooks, and processes.

This article will highlight 11 documentaries designers should add to their watch list. From the creative process to the minds of legendary designers, these documentaries will offer insight, perspective, and creative guidance.

The first documentary is The New Bauhaus (2019). This documentary explores the life and teachings of Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus School of Design and its influence on architecture, literature, art, and technology. Through interviews with modern day Bauhaus alumni and experts, this documentary unveils the timelessness of Gropius’s concepts and the distinctiveness of modern design.

The second documentary is Helvetica (2007). This film delves into the world of typography, tracing the 50-year history and impact of the typeface of the same name. Through interviews, archival footage, and graphic design, this film reveals the contemporary relevance and importance of typography in design.

The third documentary is Objectified (2009). Objectified is an in-depth exploration of everyday objects, taking its viewers on a unique journey through industrial and product design. With interviews of experts, product designers, and type designers, this film will open up a designer’s mind to the diverse and innovative design processes used today.

The fourth documentary is Walk the Talk: The Power of Good Design (2010). This film interviews notable designers to consider how design can be used to improve the quality of life. Through interviews, profiles, and featured works, this documentary reveals the impact of good design and its importance in shaping the future.

The fifth documentary is Urbanized (2011). Urbanized is an exploration of urban design and its potential to create more liveable cities. This film shines a light on many aspects of crowded urban sprawls, from transportation and housing to parks and green spaces.

The sixth documentary is Design Disruptors (2016). Design Disruptors presents the tools, secrets, and stories of the disruptors that have revolutionized today’s design world. Through interviews and feature stories, this film reveals how innovative design and technology are changing the world.

The seventh documentary is The Pixar Story (2007). The Pixar Story follows the wild journey of Pixar Animation Studios and the major players that made it the iconic animation empire it is today. Through insightful interviews, archival footage, and behind-the-scenes stories, this documentary provides a look at how one of the most iconic animation studios came together.

The eighth documentary is Rams (2019). Rams is an exploration of the life and design philosophy of legendary German industrial designer Dieter Rams. Through an array of interviews and archival footage, this film chronicles Rams’s approach to design and his legacy in the design world.

The ninth documentary is Design Canada (2019). Design Canada is an inspiring journey through the development of Canada’s visual identity, from the 50s to today. Through interviews with prominent designers, feature stories, and archival footage, this film reveals the impact of design on Canada’s cultural identity.

The tenth documentary is The Biggest Little Farm (2019). The Biggest Little Farm follows a couple’s journey to start a sustainable farm and the process of re-establishing a connection to nature. Through interviews and feature stories, this film reveals the challenges, successes, and the impact of sustainable design.

The eleventh documentary is Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1993). Manufacturing Consent follows the life and work of Noam Chomsky, an MIT professor and renowned linguist. Through interviews and archival footage, this film examines how the media shapes public opinion through design.

Documentaries are a great source of inspiration for designers, revealing the importance of design and its process. By adding these 11 documentaries to their watch list, designers can explore design ideas and uncover new perspectives.

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