Films on Design

Design Is One:
Lella & Massimo Vignelli

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr19m.  As artists and visual architects, husband and wife Massimo and Lella Vignelli have been producing unique and groundbreaking work as brand designers.  The film gives a wonderful overview of the Vignellis and their work, a good introduction for someone unaware of the Vignellis.  I was impressed that their catalog of work was so broad — the depth of their design that spans 50 years is mind-boggling.  After watching this doc, I feel I know them and how they think.  Great documentary. Well worth watching.  Loved every minute of this exceptional film.  I also recommend the movie Helvetica if you love design.


Documentary 2007 NR 80 minutes. We use it every day on our computers, we see it on street signs — and we take it for granted. Now, Gary Hustwit’s unique documentary introduces us to Helvetica, a font whose readability has made it the most popular in the world.

The Architect and The Painter

Documentary 2011 NR.  This documentary tells the story of the husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames, widely considered America’s most important designers.  A fascinating close view of both personalities.  Unafraid to reveal the charisma, humanity and obsessions.  For once a film that also sheds light on the dark side of an artistic relationship and work; instead of always putting people like this on a pedestal. i.e. leading the perfect, flawless, unattainable, artistic life.  Great documentary.  Very enjoyable and very informative.  If you like to watch documentaries about talented and unusual people – the odds are good you will like watching this documentary on the Eames.

How Much Does Your Building Weigh,
Mr. Foster?

Documentary 2010 NR 1hr 19m. The wide-ranging and inspiring career of prominent English architect Norman Foster is profiled in this intriguing documentary. It’s just a joy to watch. The best part of this excellent documentary is the cinematography of beautiful architecture, brought to life with slow-moving video cameras, time-lapse photography, special lighting effects, and a perfect musical background of sweet-but-sad, minimalist piano. The cinematography is astounding (the segment about the Millau viaduct at the beginning is magical– a gorgeous bridge magically captured on film). It shows a bit of how the architecture profession works, which is interesting. The man himself in the interviews reveals himself to be both inspiring and a little egotistical, which is of course to be expected. His work stands on its own, though, and this film showcases it in all its glory. I definitely recommend it for anyone who likes architecture.

Antonio Gaudi

Documentary 1984 NR 72 minutes. The great innovator of the Spanish art nouveau movement, architect and sculptor Antonio Gaudi left an indelible mark on artists Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali — and on the city of Barcelona, where the bulk of Gaudi’s distinctive work still stands. Using minimal narration in this astonishing documentary, Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara guides viewers through the achievements of the playful, Gothic surrealist.

Xanadu Foam Houses

The Xanadu Houses were a series of experimental homes built to showcase novel construction and design techniques. This architectural project began in 1969 when Bob Masters, an early pioneer of houses built of rigid insulation, built a home for himself in Aspen Colorado using inflatable balloons sprayed with polyurethane foam to demonstrate that houses could be built directly out of a waterproof insulation material in beautiful curvilinear forms, thereby eliminating the necessity of first building a square structure of wood on which to attach insulation and waterproofing. The same methods were later used to build the Xanadu houses as a series of show homes in the United States, the first in Wisconsin Dells and the second one near Disney World in Florida, which became popular tourist attractions during the 1980s with each attracting 100,000 visitors per year. (Bob Masters is also the author of several books, including Roget’s II Thesaurus, and is the author of this website Must-See-Movies.) An interview with Bob Masters about this new architecture and building technology can be seen at:

Buckminster Fuller:
The Lost Interviews

Documentary 2005 NR 2 discs. With dozens of honorary degrees under his belt, thinker, inventor and scientist Buckminster Fuller (of geodesic dome fame, among other feats) has always been able to make his research relevant in the modern world. In this fascinating documentary, get to know Fuller as he discusses his approach to his work and to the world at large — a world that’s rapidly changing from a tangible, textual place to one governed by computer chips and electronics.


Frank Lloyd Wright

Documentary 1998 NR 153 minutes. Often touted as the most influential and important American architect of all time, Frank Lloyd Wright is the subject of this acclaimed documentary by award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns (Baseball, The Civil War). Rare footage and illuminating interviews, along with an in-depth look at Wright’s body of work from his 92 years, come together to bring his unforgettable — and frequently turbulent — story to life.

The Homes of Frank Lloyd Wright

Documentary 1998 TV-G 50 minutes. This edition of the series from the A&E; Channel gives you an inside look at the homes created by renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright designed many structures throughout the country, but the homes he built for himself are widely considered to be his crowning glory and truly representative of his unique style and vision. This vision and creativity are on display as you tour these magnificent dwellings.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

Documentary 2005 NR 60 minutes. Learn the history of Fallingwater — the iconic Pennsylvania home custom-designed for the Kaufmann family by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 — in this fascinating documentary film. Highlights include interviews with Fallingwater director Lynda Waggoner and architectural historian Richard Cleary, who explain Wright’s concept of “organic architecture” and the qualities that make the structure so exceptional.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West

Documentary 2007 NR. Take a journey through legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West — an architectural masterpiece housing his home, his studio and a school of architecture in the Arizona desert — with this documentary and interactive tour. The longtime director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives, Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, discusses Wright’s life and career, exploring the ways in which Taliesin West reflects his values of organic architecture.


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