Genius of Design

Follow the story of the art and history of design, from its accidental birth as a by-product of the "division of labour" to the central role it now plays as we grapple with issues of over-production, consumption and the environment. Featuring interviews with some of the world's leading designers, including Philippe Starck, Dieter Rams, and Apple's Jonathan Ive.

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  • Genius of Design - Objects of Desire
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    March 24, 2011

    In the explosion of creativity that defined the "designer decades" of the 1980s and early 1990s, designers lit a bonfire under the "Modernist" assumptions that had dominated their thinking for more than 50 years. By addressing wants rather than needs, and allying themselves to blatant consumerism, designers emerged from the backrooms to claim a starring role in the shaping of modern life. Featuring Philippe Starck, Marc Newson and Jonathan Ive.

  • Genius of Design - Better Living Through Chemistry
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    March 17, 2011

    In the 1950s, the infinitely elastic possibilities of plastic combined with the miracles of electronic miniaturization allowed designers to offer post-war consumers something new: liberation. In the 1960s, designer Verner Panton pursued the dream of a chair made from a seamless piece of plastic while Joe Colombo proposed the Austin Powers-style "cabriolet bed", complete with built-in cigarette lighter and stereo. Featuring Sony master designer Teiyu Goto, Alberto Alessi and Stephen Bayley.

  • Genius of Design - Blueprint for War
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    March 10, 2011

    Here's what they don't teach in art school: when nations go to war, designers are on the front line, using their skills to devise better, more efficient ways to kill people. From the desperate improvisation of the Sten gun, turned out in huge numbers by British toy-makers, to the deadly elegance of the all-wood Mosquito fighter-bomber, the stories behind these products reveal how definitions of "good design" shift dramatically when national survival is at stake.

  • Genius of Design - Designs of Living
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    March 3, 2011

    In the crisis-stricken 1920s and 1930s, design suggested dramatically different ideas about the shape of things to come. In Europe, the "modern movement" promoted the virtues of the machine with theories and products like open-plan living, the fitted kitchen and tubular steel furniture. In the USA, designers explored and exploited the dreams and desires of American consumers to develop a market-based approach to design which has become one of the bedrocks of modern consumer society.

  • Genius of Design - Ghosts in the Machine
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    February 24, 2011

    Industrial design was born from the demands of capitalism to create more for less during the Industrial Revolution. We look at celebrated designers like Wedgwood and William Morris as well as the anonymous designers of everyday items like cast-iron cooking pots and sheep shears. Featuring interviews with Dieter Rams and Ford Motors' J. Mays.