The Genius of Design

The Genius of Design

2010, Art and Artists  -   18 Comments
Ratings: 7.69/10 from 26 users.

The Genius of DesignDocumentary series exploring the history of design. The first episode of this new series tells the fascinating story of the birth of industrial design. Alongside the celebrated names, from Wedgwood to William Morris, it also explores the work of the anonymous designers responsible for prosaic but classic designs for cast-iron cooking pots to sheep shears - harbingers of a breed of industrially produced objects culminating in the Model T Ford. Includes interviews with legendary designer Dieter Rams and J Mays, Ford Motors' global head of design.

In the crisis-stricken decades of the 1920s and 1930s, with the world at the tipping point between two global wars, design suggested dramatically different ideas about the shape of things to come, from the radical futurism of the Bauhaus to the British love affair with mock-Tudor architecture and the three-piece suite.

The Genius of Design examines the Second World War through the prism of the rival war machines designed and built in Germany, Britain, the USSR and the USA, with each casting a fascinating sidelight on the ideological priorities of the nations and regimes which produced them.

The story of design enters the 50s and 60s, when a revolutionary new material called plastic combined with the miracles of electronic miniaturization to allow designers to offer post-war consumers something new: liberation.

Picking up the story of design from the drab days of the late 70s, the final episode tracks the explosion of wild creativity that defined the 'designer decades' of the 80s and early 90s. By addressing wants rather than needs and allying themselves to the blatant consumerism of 'retail culture' designers emerged from the backrooms to claim a starring role in the shaping of modern life.

More great documentaries

18 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Jo

    What twaddle you all write after such a great enlightening series of programs! Have to laugh so as not to weep at ignorance.

  2. Brian Fraley

    Perhaps I myself am so appreciative of the enlightening + wise points , that I also need to read these follow-ups for further complete light to be shed. And forward we go, with at the very least, more educated selves. Adding a comment -or twelve- to fine tune perspectives, to take the swells on the forward quarter, and share anew. 45 minutes become hours when multiplied via our diverse ways. Bless all u. B1

  3. Liebewitz

    design-to-war-design a chair. Minimalist synopsis;-but it will save you 45 minutes of your life!

  4. PPetra

    I don't know why are you judging Leonard for his opinion. I thought that really important part of designer life is to look at the world differently. Why aren´t you instead of judging him and telling him He is not right, taking an inspiration of his opinion...? Designer needs to be open to everything even stuff you don't like. And anyway, He is right, just think about that, before you call someone an id**t.

  5. Angelica

    aww i love design :D

  6. John-Paul


  7. Bill Crush

    Dear Leonard, you sound like the kind of jaded guy that did an law degree while your friends went to art school and left you behind. The aim of design is to think critically about a problem and approach it from a beneficial angle. If you believe that everything is being designed by a committee the obvious thing to do would be to not buy it. The only reason bad designs succeed is because idiots like you and your mother buy them.

    1. Gweedoz 8

      May I suggest that Leonard is very much right indeed. Why? It's not him and his mother buying stuff DESIGNED for planned obsolescence, it is the very 90/95% of anything anyone buys out there that is simply engineered to last as little as possible. Not that designers are bad, they just do their jobs, work for a company, and most companies out there need to sell their products, if their products last too long then they are out of business. Ethics don't apply to most 'professionals' who are simply out there to make a buck, so do people in the military, in advertisement, sometimes even in research, in sales, catering, the list goes on and on!

  8. Boris Dimitrov

    leonardobdas. you fail in your thinking. that is all.

  9. gabbledegook

    I thoroughly enjoyed that it made me want to come up with an ingenious design for a new laptop though must finish my 5 legged chair 1st (on a more serious note it actually was quite good, A sort of narrated trip around an art and design museum / center

  10. Ali McWalter

    leonardobdas - Just what the world needs, another defeatist idiot. Pretty sure you wouldn't have been able to write your message, watch this documentary - for example - without some sort of design or problem solving.

  11. Walter Ian Owens

    Ben Stien must have been bummed out when he realized this documentary was about "industrial" design.

  12. Ömer Merken

    Dear "leonardobdas" we don't know who you are and how on the earth you've came to those conculisions after watching this documentary but, there're a buch of design studends just want to punch you in the mouth so you can never twaddle again.

  13. leonardobdas

    no surprises here: most designers fail to explain to the public how pathetic and useless they are. the exception is frenchmen Phillipe Starck which needs to tell himself that he "serves"people in order not to feel guilty (since he is making useless products that are designed to fail because of market rules of planned obsolence). The problem solving argument is as rare as a man becoming a billionaire... most designers just do it for the sake of 'creative expression' which typically means following BS from their teachers.

    Look around the modern world: most of the so called problem solving result in ugly and fuel inneficient "committee designed" cars, disgusting despotic temporary buildings that seem to be competing with the pharaos for who gets to hangout with RA in heaven, and "magic bullet" blenders that break in 2 weeks and make as much noise as a jet. Screw u sellouts!

    Of course I am not talking about craftsmen carrying on their 1000 year old hunting bowl legacy or somebody making beautiful jewelry.... just that this documentary as usual just shows the good side of is a sales pitch from some industrial design union it sounds like to me.

    1. Bárbara Villalpando

      If you take the time to watch the 5 episodes of the series you might realize how partial is your opinion, and what is the essential difference between craft and design...

      By the way, without designers you wouldn't be able to do half the things that you do every day, including writting comments from your computer, it's not all cool and perfect but the series offers a wide panorama of things and pros and cons of design, don't be such a negative person.

    2. leonardobdas

      I got ya there Bárbara... because for me the bottom line is that market forces dictate what and how products turn out to be......which usually means planned obsolescence all the way for most and exorbitant prices for select few.... and meanwhile my life continues to be the same: the pretty ford mustang handles like a horse carriage because proper suspension design would ad 5 grand to the price of the car, my mother's blender breaks down in a few weeks and somehow everytime I walk into a furniture store I forget that they think I am stupid because I dislike attempts to call new something that was made 20 years ago.

      What I despise the ostentateous intelectual phoniness and pretentiousness of designers... if you catch my drift.... pretending to be creative by copying whatever they see on magazines and what their teachers tell them about the latest ipod cover.

      However I agree with you that the tern design used generally.... as engineering or 'making of things' makes my 5 dollar keyboard very effective indeed and thanks for the chinese kid that assembled it for me.

      I will respect design more when automation and materials are so advanced that I could afford to commission my dream furniture...without opening my very own meth lab.

    3. Jacob On Tour

      Amen, Sir!

      Why is it necessary to "reinvent" the same, perfectly working(and looking), shit, over and over again!

      Please just give me (ceramic) cup of coffee, and I'll go chill on my Egyptian chair(with my comp)!

  14. Md.Mamunur Rashid