Streaming Design

Film, 9. March 2017
By: John Hill

Image: Netflix

Netflix is celebrating the creative industries in an eight-part documentary series, Abstract: The Art of Design, which portrays one designer per episode, each in a different field. Architecture is represented by none other than Bjarke Ingels.

The 45-minute "Bjarke Ingels: Architecture" episode is a mix of first-hand visits to BIG projects (built and underway), candid interviews with the architect's parents, Bjarke's usual visual and verbal persuasion, and scenes of BIG designing Serpentine Pavilion last year, when the episode was shot.

One element that comes to the fore is the architect responding to criticisms of BIG's work, such as the cheapness of large residential projects like 8 House (he contend that is because they were, in fact, cheap projects). Director Morgan Neville (also an executive producer on the series) said in an interview that he wanted to approach those and other critiques partly because he was skeptical of Ingels, who has more profiles and adoration than any other contemporary architect. After shooting the episode, Neville came out "a true believer," as will others, I'm sure, who watch the episode.

It should be noted that each episode has its own flavor, tailored in part to its subject. A case in point is the first episode on illustrator Christoph Neumann. Also directed by Neville, it is more meta, even psychoanalytical, stemming from Neumann's narration as well as the integration of his illustrations. Although more enjoyable to watch than the architecture episode, both are examples of how Neville and his co-conspirators crafted a series whose episodes are designed as much as the projects made by the designers they are portraying.

A young Bjarke Ingels (Image: Screenshot)

Image: Netflix


Bjarke IngelsNetflixDocumentary