The Genius of Design is a documentary series which explores the history of design. The very first episode gives a fascinating account of the birth of industrial design. The film explores the work of the famous and anonymous designers responsible for prosaic but classic designs for cast-iron cooking pots to sheep shears.
The documentary is interspersed with interviews with famous designers Dieter Rams and J Mays, Ford Motors’ global head of design.
When the world was facing a the worst crisis in the form of the two world wars design gave new and different ideas about the shape of things to emerge from the radical futurism of the Bauhaus to the British love affair with mock-Tudor architecture and the three-piece suit.
The Genius of Design examines the Second World War and discusses the rival war machines designed and built in Germany, Britain, the USSR and the USA. These war machinery as the film suggests reveals a fascinating the ideological priorities of the nations and regimes which produced them.
The story of design moves to the world of the 50s and 60s, when a revolutionary new material called plastic was introduced. It was combined with the miracles of electronic miniaturization which allowed designers to provide something new: liberation to the post war generation,
The story moves to the late 70s, the final episode tracks the explosion of wild creativity that defined the ‘designer decades’ of the 80s and early 90s. Addressing wants rather than needs, the mantra of the age of Consumerism and the emergence of ‘retail culture’, designers moved out of the backrooms and claimed starring role in the shaping of modern life.