Inspiration for creativity is hard to come by. Creatives can spend hours, days, or even weeks looking for inspiration. Thankfully, there are documentaries that prove that inspiration can come from anywhere. From the simplest of ideas, to the grandest of designs, anything can be transformed into something creative.
To the creators out there: Here are the top 5 documentaries for design inspiration.
1. Why Man Creates
Directed by Saul Bass, Why Man Creates is a collection of several entertaining animated and live-action vignettes. It magnificently expounds the necessity of man’s creativity.
What’s truly beautiful about this is that Bass shows deep respect for everything creative – not just art or architecture, but even the most mundane of things that help the world significantly, things like the spoon or words.
It was made in 1968 but still very relevant today to those who seek to be creative, unless the nature of creativity has changed (which has not). In its essence, “Why Man Creates” focuses on what creativity is, the forms it takes, the process of creation and the varying approaches toward the process of creativity.
“Why Man Creates” beautifully captures creativity in historical, cultural, practical and aesthetic viewpoints, created with humor and irony by a master of conceptual design.
Why Man Creates is a good watch for those who need to tackle problem with creativity.
2. Regular or Super: Views on Mies Van der Rohe
Regular or Super focuses on Mies Van der Rohe, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. Directed by Patrick Demers and Joseph Hillel, and written by Joseph Hillel, “Regular or Super” examines the architect’s creativity motto, “Less is more.”
Featuring stylish cinematography that seeks to capture Van der Rohe’s radical deviation from the predominant beaux arts approach to architecture, this documentary emphatically displays the influential effect of Van der Rohe’s works to architecture. The documentary is incorporated with anecdotes and comments from his biographer, family members and neighbors of his last work, a gasoline station.
The hour-long documentary displays the architect’s works with observations from renowned architects like Phyllis Lambert, Rem Koolhaas and Elizabeth Diller.
Overall, Regular or Super is informative and thought-provoking as to how creativity at its best can affect society socially and artistically.
3. Herb and Dorothy
“As entertaining as it is inspiring,” that is how Rotten Tomatoes describe this fun documentary. Herb and Dorothy is a documentary directed by first-time filmmaker Megumi Sasaki. It features the husband and wide Herb and Dorothy Vogel.
The Vogels are a New York couple of modest means. Yet in their apartment was built a world-class art collection. They collected works of then-unknown artists (these artists later became known), works that are minimalist, conceptual and verbal because those are the ones they can afford.
Over the decades they amassed enough works of art to fill their apartment. What this documentary truly captures is the couple’s undying passion for and undeterred devotion to art. But a notable lesson here is that something that is not immediately seen as valuable is not necessarily uncreative.
The Vogels only chose art that they can take with them on a taxi, yet they are pieces of art nonetheless. To Herb and Dorothy Vogel, art is not merely like a family, it is family.
4. Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight
Milton Glaser is a graphic designer most known for his “I ❤ NY” logo, as well as the logos of DC Comics and the Brooklyn Brewery – in short, Glaser’s art speaks for itself.
The documentary focuses on Glaser’s goals when creating – to inform and delight – hence the title. Director Wendy Keys did a marvelous job of creating a portrait of Glaser that is as informative as Glaser’s works are.
Keys wonderfully portrayed the effects of creativity on political and social environments, about which Glaser commented “Your part is to be on the side of the light.” For the creators out there seeking professional inspiration, who better to receive it from than the gloriously visual and charismatically verbal Milton Glaser himself?
5. Design is One: Lella and Massimo Vignelli
Italian couple Lella and Massimo Vignelli are all-around designers whose motto is “If you can’t find it, design it.” Directed by Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra, Design is One dives deep into the everyday moments of the couple, into their work, their art, their genius.
One inspiring attitude that creators can benefit from the Vignellis is that they wanted to work in diverse fields but with a unifying aesthetic. This goes to show that true creators and designers do not discriminate any form of creativity.
Conclusion: A Call to Design
Designing is difficult – but undeniably rewarding. It is a form of giving the world color, value and essence. If there is one thing any designer or creator can take away from these documentaries, it is that creativity can come from all people from all walks of life, with different ideas, different personalities, and different perspectives.