This five-part series, made by the same team behind the award-winning series The Genius of Photography tells the story of design from the Industrial Revolution to the present day, from the accidental birth of design 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. Narrated by Denis Lawson it features interviews with some of the world’s leading designers including Philippe Starck, Dieter Rams, Apple’s Jonathan Ive and J Mays, Ford Motors’ global head of design as well commentators like design aficionado Stephen Fry, futurologist Bruce Sterling and sociologist Harvey Molotch (author of ‘Where Stuff Comes From’).
Series producer Tim Kirby says: ‘In the era of electric cars, flat-pack furniture and phones that do more than anyone could possibly want, we take ‘good design’ more or less for granted. But design is the product of a complex and rich history in which the definition of design, and the role and status of the designer have changed as the tectonic plates of economics, politics and society have shifted. For us the story of design offers nothing less than an alternative history of the modern world told through the stuff that we build our lives out of, and the people who have the job of worrying about that stuff.’
The Genius of Design takes viewers on a fascinating journey through the material world to explore the ways in which designers over the past 250 years have grappled with the machinery of industrialisation and capitalism in order to deliver the kind of products that we, as individuals and as a society, crave. The journey takes us from the first factories created by pioneers of the Industrial Revolution to the design studios and production lines of some of today’s most powerful and influential corporations including Apple, IKEA, Ford and Volkswagen. This is not a series that sets out to put design or designers on a pedestal, and it’s about far more than the usual list of ‘icons’, ‘classics’ and ‘gurus’ (though these are included). It’s embedded in the real world – our world – and it will change the way that you see it.