5 Must-See Movies for Designers & Creatives

Probably one of the most popular movies for designers and creatives has to be Helvetica, the 2007 short film directed by Gary Hustwit (which you can watch for free here). And you may have enjoyed the series Abstract on Netflix already. But for additional creative inspiration, there are still so many more design films to discover; from documentaries on famed designers to photography street style, here are just a few of the top films that all designers should cozy up and watch this fall and winter. (You can also check out more movies for designers at designers.watch and find out where to stream them.)

Beautiful & Creative Movies for Designers

Eames: The Architect and the Painter

Probably the most famous American graphic and industrial designers, Charles and Ray Eames were a couple who changed the face of modern architecture, photography and furniture. Famed for their black leather and wooden Eames lounge and ottoman from 1956, their last piece together was the Eames sofa, which went into production in 1984. During their lifetime, the couple made 125 short films, many of which were playful and childlike in nature, including “Powers of Ten,” which shows the visual scale of the universe both zoomed in and out. They often referred to toys for inspiration, and it shows in their work with their choice of primary colors and simplistic, round-edged design.

Design is One: Lella & Massimo Vignelli

Continuing the couple design trend, there was also a movie made about Lella and Massimo Vignelli, the famed Italian couple who are widely known for bringing sophisticated design to America in the 1960s, including their New York subway map and numerous graphic design and furniture projects; they were also featured in Helvetica in 2007. Here, the film shows the inner workings of the dynamic duo and how their legacy continues.

Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman

Some might know Schulman, others may not. He is a photographer of modernist architecture and shoots buildings in a way that makes them look like sculptures. Schulman helped shed light on architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry. Designers are interviewed in this doc-style feature and stars the photographer himself, too, musing on his work.


Set in a print studio in rural Wisconsin, this documentary traces the lives of old school designers who are devout to the art of letterpress design printing. The film takes place at the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum, which is run by a pair of retired craftsmen who has spent their lives devoted to the increasingly rare design technique which saw its rise in the 1950s and 1960s before being replaced by digital design.

[Have you created a great typographic design or hand lettered project? Enter it into the Typography & Lettering Awards!]

Bill Cunningham New York

New York’s famed street photographer, who passed away earlier this year, had a film devoted to his life made in 2010. A lifelong veteran staff fashion photographer at The New York Times, the film chronicles Cunninham’s photographic eye, which he cultivated over 40 years of shooting fashion on the streets of New York City. The film was made when Cunningham was 80 and shows his humble side, despite working in the seemingly shallow fashion business. His talent? Grouping together visual trends, whether it was ugly Christmas sweaters or polka dotted high heels, he always had a knack for bringing together a collage of photos that worked together as one. Today, there is a street corner named after Cunningham at 5th Avenue and 57th Street in New York City.



… And as a bonus (currently filming) — Pressing On: The Letterpress Film

Pressing On: The Letterpress Film is a documentary about “the survival of letterpress and the remarkable printers who preserve the history and knowledge of the craft.” If you were at HOW Design Live 2016, you might have seen the awesome setup at the HOW+PRINT booth, with Erin Beckloff and the other filmmakers and creatives who are currently filming. Kickstarted last year, the project is currently still underway, but you can read about the filming process over at printmag.com.

Looking for more instructional videos and movies? Check out our lineup of how-to tutorials, workshops and online courses at HOW Design University.

3 thoughts on “5 Must-See Movies for Designers & Creatives

  1. mickey

    Lella & Massimo Vignelli is my favourite movie as a designer. I have not seen remaining 4 movies. I will definitely watch after reading your post. I think Lella & Massimo Vignelli is available for free to watch on Terrarium TV update version. Thanks.