Being a designer means constantly looking for new sources of inspiration, keeping in touch with the creative community, and looking for new solutions to the most unusual tasks. However, sometimes many of us just want to enjoy inspirational movies on the couch.
If you’re looking for educational and (or) motivational content to channel your creativity, we are here with a list of uplifting movies for designers and those who want to become one.
Inspiring Movies for Designers
01 Abstract: The Art of Design (2017 and 2019)
After watching this documentary series, you’ll definitely have something to talk about with your colleagues. The series has two seasons and was released in 2017 and 2019. Each episode is under an hour, and all of them are linked by a common theme – design.
Episodes are built around the stories of prominent figures in contemporary design, including fashion, graphic design, lighting design, and architecture. Abstract emphasizes that there is no proven recipe for design success, and that there is a very personal, sometimes even dramatic story behind everything people design.
02 Design Trilogy by Gary Hustwit
🎥 Helvetica (2007)
🎥 Objectified (2009)
🎥 Urbanized (2011)
The Design Trilogy by Gary Hustwit consists of three must-see movies for designers and those interested in the origins of modern design. The films were released from 2007 to 2011 and gave rise to a new direction in documentary filmmaking. For example, the protagonist of Helvetica is a typeface, whose story somehow connects the main cultural events of the last 50 years.
In the remaining parts of the trilogy, you’ll learn about the people who design our surroundings, why certain cities inspire visitors, and why other cities do the exact opposite. Fun fact: The director of these films raised money for production using a crowdfunding platform.
03 24X36: A Movie About Movie Posters (2016)
Once upon a time, movie posters were an independent genre of illustration and artists created them by hand. The irony is that some cinema posters from the last century turned out to be more valuable for art history than the films they advertised. Unfortunately, the names of certain artists remain unknown today, because film studios and private cinema halls did not recognize them in any way.
24X36 explores how movie poster aesthetics influenced modern illustration, and how the genre itself survived over all these years. Recommended for artists, illustrators, and those involved in video production!
04 Indie Game: The Movie (2012)
How much drama and personal sacrifice can there be behind a modern indie video game? This film will take you behind the computer game development scene, and perhaps inspire you to launch a small, but completely independent project.
The movie follows indie game developers who want to create a computer game from scratch. The documentary shows the joys and sorrows of people making their crazy, creative ideas come to life. And, of course, the game design in this movie does not leave anyone indifferent!
05 Rams (2018)
It’s difficult to name a person more important to modern industrial design than Dieter Rams. This German designer has created so many items that we use in our daily lives, including appliances with raised buttons, audio systems that can be positioned horizontally or vertically, compact home coffee makers, and more.
In the late 1970s, Dieter Rams came up with his Ten Principles of Good Design, which most designers still passionately follow (just look at the design of your smartphone!). The movie consists of interviews with the design genius, in which he explains his philosophy.
06 Inspiring movies about fashion designers
🎥 Coco Avant Chanel (2009)
🎥 Yves Saint Laurent (2014)
🎥 Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008)
Karl Lagerfeld, Dries Van Noten, Alexander McQueen, and more have already become the main characters of fashion documentaries.
If you are tired of design documentaries because of the number of interviews they contain, then fiction films about great designers are the way to go. In these top inspirational films about haute couture, you will learn about the personal lives of those who made history and learn about their source of inspiration.
07 Design Is One: The Vignellis (2012)
This movie follows Lella and Massimo Vignelli, prominent figures in contemporary graphic, industrial, and interior design, who moved from Milan to New York in the late 60s. A few years later, Massimo Vignelli became one of the most prominent designers in the United States.
Despite the fact that we are dealing with a classic documentary film, watching it can bring you both intellectual and aesthetic pleasure. In addition, Lella Vignelli and the peculiarities of her creative union with Massimo have an important place in Design Is One.
08 Why Man Creates (1968)
Don’t have time to watch long films? This cartoon will only take 30 minutes of your time, but it will spark your creativity and put you in a good mood. Why Man Creates is an animated short filmed in 1968, and it is dedicated to the nature of creativity.
No matter what area of design you work in, this film will make you feel like you’re part of a huge global community of creators. It is worth mentioning that this film received an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject.
09 The Creative Brain (2019)
If a historical perspective on creativity isn’t enough for you, then here’s another movie recommendation. The Creative Brain explores creativity issues from the perspective of neuroscience. The film consists of short interviews with renowned designers, musicians, entrepreneurs, and artists. They discuss what creativity is and how they manage to combine it with routine activities.
10 Art & Copy (2009)
If you are thinking about dedicating your life to ad design, whether it be posters, websites, brochures or entire creative campaigns, be sure to check out the experiences of those who have achieved success (or not).
In Art & Copy, you will learn about how the creative director profession arose, and the difference between it and a designer. The intriguing details of legendary creative campaigns such as Just Do It, I Love New York, I Want My MTV, Got Milk?, and Think Different will also make appearances in this film.
Stock up on popcorn 🍿
When we created this collection of the most inspiring movies for designers, we came to the conclusion that designers very rarely become the protagonists of feature films. As you may have noticed, these movies are often documentaries or based on real events. A small exception to this rule is Phantom Thread and Shirley: Visions of Reality.
However, almost any cinema masterpiece can become a source of inspiration for designers. So, continue your search for inspiring movies and share your precious findings with us.
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