5 Amazing Documentaries That Help You Understand Design Better!

This Post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.

For a personal project, I recently started learning design. Before 3 months I hardly knew anything about design and I never imagined myself being in a designer’s shoes. I used to think when I’d start up on my own, I’d hire a freelancer or find a co-founder. But neither of them worked out, so I started to learn design on my own.

Although my main focus was to learn graphic design and UI/UX, I thought it’d be better to gain some knowledge about design of physical objects and their relation with the objects and processes in graphic design. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I learned about that stuff. Not only it helped me to view things from a designer’s perspective, but it also changed my overall perception about objects, design and power of creativity.

Here is a list of 5 super documentaries that helped me understand design better. I hope they help you too!

1. Objectified

A documentary that examines the complex relationship people have with manufactured objects and, by extension, the people who design them.


It’s a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the designers who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It’s about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability.

2. Helvetica

In 2005 a number of provocative, award-winning ads appeared that touted the Helvetica font; Gary Hustwit explores the subject protractedly with his feature-length essay film Helvetica.


The documentary, produced in 2007 (and thus commemorating the typeface’s 50th anniversary), uses the omnipresent font as a lens through which it examines contemporary visual culture and how typeface is used, aesthetically, spatially, and culturally, to impart shape and character to urban environments. Hustwit thensegues into a discussion with a number of acclaimed designers about their work, their creative visions and processes, and the aesthetic reasoning behind various decisions regarding font. Hustwit interviews over 20 design experts in the film, including Michael C. Place, Paula Scher, Matthew Carter, and David Carson.

3. Exit Through Gift Shop

Banksy is a graffiti artist with a global reputation. Fiercely guarding his anonymity to avoid prosecution, Banksy has so far resisted all attempts to be captured on film. “Exit Through the Gift Shop” tells the incredible true story of how an eccentric French shop keeper turned documentary maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner with spectacular results.


The film contains exclusive footage of Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Invader and many of the worlds most infamous graffiti artists at work, on walls and in interviews. As Banksy describes it,

“It’s basically the story of how one man set out to film the un-filmable. And failed!”

4. Beautiful Losers

The independent spirit of D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself) culture in this documentary detailing how a group of like-minded American artists emerged from the underground in the early 1990s to have an enormous impact on the worlds of fashion, film, art, music, and pop culture in general.


With virtually no connection to the mainstream art world, the ten artists featured in Beautiful Losers somehow managed to become the strongest creative voices of their generation.

5. Art & Copy

“Art & Copy” is a powerful film about advertising and inspiration It reveals the work and wisdom of some of the most influential advertising creatives of our time — people who’ve profoundly impacted our culture, yet are virtually unknown outside their industry.


Exploding forth from advertising’s “creative revolution” of the 1960s, these artists and writers all brought a surprisingly rebellious spirit to their work in a business more often associated with mediocrity or manipulation: George Lois, Mary Wells, Dan Wieden, Lee Clow, Hal Riney and others featured in “Art & Copy” were responsible for “Just Do It,” “I Love NY,” “Where’s the Beef?,” “Got Milk,” “Think Different,” and brilliant campaigns for everything from cars to presidents. They managed to grab the attention of millions and truly move them. Visually interwoven with their stories, TV satellites are launched, billboards are erected, and the social and cultural impact of their ads is brought to light in this dynamic exploration of art, commerce, and human emotion.

There are surely many more that I have missed and am in the hunt for more. If any other documentary that has helped you learn something, do let me know. Once I’ve some more on the list, I’ll write them down in another pulse post.

Thanks a lot for your time ☺

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