In February of 2017, Netflix released an original documentary series called Abstract: The Art of Design. Each episode is self-contained, follows one person and showcases his or her abilities and accomplishments in a particular field.
One of my past jobs was working for a production company that made documentary shows for A&E and The History Channel. This was before the alien pawn stars with storage lockers replaced shows about the history of guns, trains and war. This has made me extremely skeptical and critical of anything that calls itself a #documentary series. Yet, I found that this series was extremely deceptive, as the descriptions sounded boring and seemed to be about people you have never heard of nor know their work. If you thought like I did, then you are completely mistaken.
The Overall Series
The word to focus on in the title of this series is “Abstract.” Dictionary.com defines it as:
“something that concentrates in itself the essential qualities of anything more extensive or more general, or of several things; essence.”
The series is less of an A&E-style biography about the specific designers and more about how design plays a role in the world. Because of this, it is not weighted down with linear backstory, detailed resumes, or defining the specific details of the artist’s current job title. The episodes have pieces of all those things sprinkled throughout the episode as ways to illustrate something being discussed.
Since each episode is just under an hour in length, the series is able to spend time with each person. It is not a fast-paced, over-cut montage sequence that highlights only the basic outline. It shows you not only how an artist works on a project, but the artist’s work and home life as well. It has a nice rhythm and pace to the episodes.
The Episodes/The Designers
Because each episode is self-contained, you can watch them in any order. Here is a list with some keywords…