Abstract: The Art of Design

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Abstract: The Art of Design TV Poster Image
Insightful design docu highlights innovators, has cursing.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

It reveals how individual designers take abstract concepts and incorporate them into their design work. Creative processes, routines, etc. are also discussed. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The designers featured are from different countries around the world, and are innovative contributors to their respective fields. 


There are references to feeling pressure as if it were "a gun to the head." The shooting death of a spouse is discussed. Some artwork features designs that some may consider dark or creepy. but they are offered within the context of the art form and the abstract concepts inspiring them.


Occasionally artistic images and illustrations feature renditions of sexual situations, but they are presented within an artistic and informative context. 


"Hell," "s--t," other strong words are occasionally audible or visible in quotes. 


The New Yorker Magazine, The Tate Modern, and other publications and organizations featured.  Samsung tablets, Apple technology, apps like Instagram, Nike shoes, and other brands visible or featured in some episodes. Most of this is offered within the context of the designer’s work. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Liquor is shown at bars. People talk about drinking, and wine is sometimes shown being poured. Cigarettes are sometimes visible in art work. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Abstract: The Art of Design is a documentary series that profiles the work and creative process of designers from a range of disciplines. In one episode a violent death is discussed, and others contain a few curse words including "hell" and "s--t." On a few occasions alcohol is visible, and featured art work includes some sexual innuendo and pop art-like images of cigarettes. Publications like The New Yorker, logos for Apple, Instagram, and Nike, and museums like The Tate Modern are featured, but largely within the context of featured designers' work.

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What's the story?

ABSTRACT: THE ART OF DESIGN is a documentary series that reveals how designers from a range of disciplines take abstract concepts and use them to create and build concrete objects and experiences. Each episode features a designer discussing what theories, impressions, and philosophies inspire the creation of their art installations, buildings, costumes, and items we use every day. From car and stage designers to architects and illustrators, each one highlights what abstractions inspire them, how they go about interpreting them in their designs, and the process by which their designs become a physical reality. 

Is it any good?

This fascinating series shows the process by which designers use critical thinking, as well as their design skills in their respective fields, to produce innovative art and designs. Nike footwear designer Tinker Hatfield, Oscar-winning Black Panther costume designer Ruth Carter, and Ian Spalter, an Instagram user interface designer, are just some of the many innovative individuals who share their thought and design processes, and who highlight some of the personal obstacles faced when experimenting with design ideas. The topic may not interest everyone, but those who want to learn more about the work that designers across the board do, Abstract: The Art of Design will prove itself to be both interesting and insightful. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difference between being an artist and being a designer. Do the people profiled on Abstract: The Art of Design make these distinctions? Do they matter?

  • Each designer’s work, and the way they go about creating it, is different. Do they have similar ways of taking abstract ideas to create concrete designs? What are some of their shared frustrations when doing so? 

TV details

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