reviews March 19, 2020

Abstract series: all episodes from season 2 in a nutshell

Abstract series first debuted on Netflix in 2017.
To tell you the truth, I enjoyed the first season but didn’t think it was going to go any further.
However, they released a new season, and this one is an absolute must-see. The first one was ok, but this one introduces different approaches from episode to episode, making it a lot more captivating.

In times when we’re at a worldwide quarantine, it’s a great idea to decompress and get inspiration by the work of other professionals.

Below, there’s a summary of what you can expect from each episode. 
Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

1: Olafur Eliasson

This season of Abstract series starts with an episode about the artist, and architect, Olafur Eliasson.
From the beginning, Olafur captures our attention by speaking to the camera, in a very straightforward manner. He does that intentionally because he recognizes that the spectator it’s the main focus. 
During the episode, he confesses to do the same with his work. His art pieces affect viewers and are transformed by their perspective.
Besides getting a behind the scenes of his studio, team, and ideation, we also get a glimpse of various projects that aren’t only immersive art, but also of political and social nature.
If you’re a person drawn to art, you will most definitely be inspired by Olafur’s work.

2: Neri Oxman

In contrast, this episode is a reflection of Neri Oxman’s about the world.
We’ve seen Neri’s work before.
She’s not your typical designer-extraordinaire. Oxman is a bio-architect and MIT Media Lab professor, who fuses art, science, engineering, and design in a single space.

In this episode, we see how she believes that it’s our responsibility to design for a future where nature is our single goal. Therefore, we must seek new opportunities and materials. Objects, buildings, and everything else in our lives must grow, instead of being assembled.
During these 45 minutes, we get a sense of who she is – as a person and professional -, who constantly puts her doubts aside and proves the value of her work.

She said something that it’s very applicable in our current crisis. “If we want to survive, we must design our way out of this.”

3: Ruth Carter

The first African-American to win the Oscar for best costume design. Although it’s a fair description of Ruth Carter’s work, it wouldn’t be enough.

The third Abstract series episode focuses on the life and work of Black Panther’s costume designer, who draws inspiration from poets, and sees herself as a storyteller, rather than a seamstress.
Throwout, we see how she first reads a script, takes an idea, and then makes it come to life.
Additionally, several cool storytelling techniques showcase her life and work. One example is a cartoon reenactment of how she met Spike Lee. To me, these moments add a certain flair and some additional moments of fun.

There are several reasons to watch Ruth. But seeing the African-American story being told trough costume design is probably the best one.

4: Cas Holman

This one focuses on designing for play.
Cas Holman is a toy and games designer, although she doesn’t like that term very much. She prefers being seen as someone that designs play moments.
During this episode, we get to see how her childhood was like, what she struggled with and, ultimately, what led her into designing for gender neutrality. 
Cas believes that design is a form of activism and that it’s essential to empower thinking outside the archetype. Toys shouldn’t tell children what’s wrong and what’s right. Rather, they need to provide play without limits. Easy is boring.
Similarly to Neri Oxman, Cas also had to face public disbelief. But luckily, she didn’t give up, and kids happily play with her toys now.

5: Ian Spalter

Ian Spalter is a digital product designer. Best known for being in charge of Instagram’s redesign and the development of Nike’s tracker, FuelBand, Ian is an accomplished designer.

This episode starts with the explanation of UX and UI, and why Ian believes that design is about the entire experience. 
We also get to see how he and his team tackle problems such as the Instagram logo and features redesign.
One thing I find curious is that Ian decided to use the role of product designer to refer to his collaborators. He believes that it describes what they do best. It’s not about the user experience, it’s the overall product strategy that counts.
Lastly, Spalter talks about how the support of people made him evolve and develop his identity and the outcomes of new technologies and social media damages as a result.

6: Jonathan Hoefler

In the last one episode of this Abstract series season, we follow the typeface designer Jonathan Hoefler during his day. We have a glimpse into what he sees in the city and how he conducts his work on a day to day basis.
Another interesting factor about this episode, it’s being divided into three sections. In each of them, Jonathan explains different concepts, rules, and typography techniques. As a result, the spectator gets a sense of the process of designing an alphabet.

It’s also interesting to hear Gail Anderson explanation on how she met Hoefler and the work they did together.

All in all, if you’re interested in the process of the man who co-designed Gotham and most of the fonts in American magazines, this is your episode.

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