Right now is the right time to stay at home and have the movie marathon of your life. We picked a list of movies, TV series and documentaries that offer something for every design and architect lover. Get your popcorn ready, take a seat and enjoy!
IF YOU EVER wished to spend all day watching films, now you have the perfect excuse. With so many options though, choosing what to watch might be overwhelming. That’s why we, as design lovers ourselves, have created a list of films that you’ll enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you’re into industrial design or architecture, TV shows or documentaries, this selection has it all.
1. Rams (Gary Hustwit, 2018)
You can’t go wrong with Gary Hustwit’s documentaries. Whether you’re more interested in industrial design (Objectified), urbanism (Urbanized) or graphic design (Helvetica), there’s a documentary to choose from, or even two. Our top pick is Rams, Hustwit’s latest work about — you guessed it — legendary designer Dieter Rams. The film is inspirational and thought-provoking, but just being able to see Rams’ extraordinary home makes it worth your time.
• During the upcoming months, you can stream a different Gary Hustwit documentary for free each week on Oh You Pretty Things.
2. The Bridge (Hans Rosenfeldt, 2011–2018)
The Bridge is one of the most famous Nordic noir crime series of the past decade. Even though the show is quite dark, you can turn watching it into a game by trying to spot all the Scandinavian design classics that appear in pretty much every season. We’ll give you a few hints: Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair, Alvar Aalto’s Stool 60 or Kristian Vedel’s wooden birds. A fun Easter egg hunt for interior design connoisseurs.
• The Bridge is available on Netflix.
3. Beginners (Mike Mills, 2010)
Beginners is an intimate and delicate film. Narrated through a series of flashbacks we get to know Oliver (Ewan McGregor) and his relationship with his father (Christopher Plummer) and new love Anna (Mélanie Laurent). Even though it might sound like the typical romantic drama, Beginners is far from it. Instead, it feels like a window inside the characters’ life. Of course, this unique film had to be set in a special place: Richard Neutra’s Lovell Health House in Los Angeles. The modernist residence has so much personality that it's like another character, and a good reason to watch the film for any architecture lover.
• Beginners is available on Prime Video.
4. Abstract: The Art of Design (2017–)
If you’re up for a session of design binge-watching, Netflix has you covered. You can start with Abstract, a documentary series that explores a wide range of design disciplines and the minds that are shaping the world through it. Don’t know which episode to watch? We especially recommend the ones on artist Olafur Eliasson, bio-architect Neri Oxman and interior designer Ilse Crawford.
• Abstract: The Art of Design is available on Netflix.
5. The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes (2017–2018)
If you’d rather concentrate on architecture, The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes won’t disappoint you. This British documentary series is exactly what its name suggests: a VIP pass into awe-inspiring houses that will take your breath away. Our special thanks go to the hosts, architect Piers Taylor and actor Caroline Quentin, whose interaction is a joy to watch.
• The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes is available on Netflix.
6. Masters of Design: The Art of the Japanese (Artbound, 2012–)
This documentary focuses on Japanese American designers but it goes way beyond their work. It also offers some valuable insights into the historical background that influenced their lives and creations. Some of the figures you’ll recognize are Isamu Noguchi, the sculptor behind Vitra’s Akari light sculptures and Noguchi coffee table; architect Gyo Obata of architecture firm HOK; or S. Neil Fujita, the graphic designer responsible for many Columbia Records’ album designs and covers of masterpieces such as In Cold Blood or The Godfather.
• You can stream the documentary for free on KCET’s website. This episode is part of Artbound, an Emmy award-winning series that examines the lives, works and creative processes of arts and culture innovators. You can watch all the series on the same website.
7. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) & Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)
A true gem in terms of worldbuilding. From the very start of the film, you will be immersed in a dystopian universe that will make you forget about everything else. Have you already watched the 1982 classic by Ridley Scott? Then it might be a good chance to catch up on its sequel: Blade Runner 2049 by Denis Villeneuve. Even though the plot might not be as gripping as the one in the first film, you will be hypnotized by Roger Deakins’ cinematography and will want to screenshot every single frame. Oh, and if you’re a fan of Brutalist architecture, this movie should go straight to the top of your list.
8. A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)
A Single Man is an aesthetic feast. This adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s novel takes place in 1960s Los Angeles so no one would be better to take us there than Dan Bishop, who was also responsible for Mad Men’s production design. The film was shot in John Lautner’s J.W. Schaffer Residence so it’s a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the house from within. Being a true perfectionist, every other aspect of Tom Ford’s opera prima is just as delightful, from the cinematography to the performances by Colin Firth and Julianne Moore.
• A Single Man is available on Netflix.
Don't forget these:
• Parasite (Bong Joon Ho, 2019)
The South Korean Oscar-winning movie revolves around a luxurious, minimalist mansion. The architectural masterpiece is actually a set built from scratch for the film. Available on Prime Video.
• Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
One of the most acclaimed films of 2017, Call Me By Your Name takes you to the sunny landscapes of rural northern Italy, aesthetics of the 80s and passion of young summer love. Available on Netflix.
• The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)
Featuring a flamboyant visual style and eventful storyline, Wes Anderson's comedy-drama was filmed in an old Art Nouveau style department store in Görlitz, Germany. Available on Prime Video.
• Catch Me If You Can (Steven Spielberg, 2002)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, this crime comedy was filmed partly in Eero Saarinen's legendary TWA Flight Center in New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Available on Prime Video.
• Interiors (Woody Allen, 1978)
Woody Allen's first actual drama film is set in a beach villa in New York. According to Allen, the décor of the house plays almost as important role as the plot or the characters. Available on Prime Video.
Text: Irene de Mas Castanyer and Nora Uotila Images: HBO, Netflix, Artina Films, Film First and Sony Pictures Classics