How Non-Designers Can Learn About Design

Have you ever looked at abstract art and thought, “Nope, don’t get it.” My most recent encounter was with this set of O shaped figures. My roommate described them as onion rings, and I had a coworker say she thought they were acorns. After some research, I found the sculpture reflects the seed pods and petals of magnolia trees — I still don’t see it.

Grandiflora-Mike Ford.jpg

The sculpture above is called Grandiflora and is by Thomas Sayre.

Whether you notice or not, design is all around and influencing us. It’s in the architecture of the houses that line our neighborhoods, in the signs that give us direction, and even in the social media platforms we spend hours scrolling through.

Design is important to communication as it conveys meaning and feeling. I get to work beside creative professionals everyday, and part of my job is to support them through project planning. I believe it is important to understand how a creative team thinks and solves problems because in return it allows me to better facilitate project success.

I was recently able to learn more about designers and their processes by watching a new Netflix documentary series called Abstract: The Art of Design. The series tells the story of eight designers and each episode is dedicated to the respective designer’s craft, work, and inspirations.

Abstract makes it easy to explore the varying genres of design as the series covers everything from photography to footwear. (I mean who doesn’t want to learn about the man who designed Air Jordan shoes?) It is an eye-opening and inspiring cinematic experience showing how designers create the world around them and influence our own thoughts and feelings. After finishing the series, and yes, I binge-watched it, I found a new appreciation for the design process and the art that is made as a result of it.

Check out the trailer below and let me know what you think. What episode was your favorite? What do you appreciate about design and art?

-Caroline Robinson

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