Which films do designers find the most inspiring?

We ask designers which films they return to when they’re looking for inspiration. (Spoiler – only one person mentioned Blade Runner…).

Paula Benson. Co-founder: Form Design and Branding, Founder: Film and Furniture.
Paula Benson. Co-founder: Form Design and Branding, Founder: Film and Furniture.

Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey is at the core of my design brain. From the computer screen and control panel graphics to the space station set design – the entire film still dictates how we picture “the future”.

And then there’s the dynamic orange and brown graphic patterned carpet in the corridor of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. It features prominently in several scenes, including Danny’s first encounter with room 237.

In my investigation to find out if it was still in production I was led down a rabbit hole of conjecture. It was this realisation that there’s a whole world out there as obsessed in furniture and decor in films that led me to set up website Film and Furniture.

Chris Harrison, creative director, Harrison Agency
Chris Harrison, creative director, Harrison Agency

A film I saw recently that inspired me was Bill Cunningham New York. A great profile of the New York Times street style photographer. What the film reveals is Bill’s deep understanding of his subject, an uncompromising point of view and an enormous energy to create.

For me, those three things: understanding the subject, a point of view and creative energy, are golden ingredients for any creative practice. Theres also many pearls of wisdom on the relationship between creative freedom and taking a pay cheque.

Vic Lee, illustrator
Vic Lee, illustrator

Bill Cunningham New York. The first time I saw this film I had no expectations. An old guy photographing fashionable folk in New York. And that’s why this film inspires me. Bill is not some old guy, he is a law unto himself, outspoken, courteous, honest and passionate. He does what he loves, his way. What a gent. Beautifully filmed in his home, with his characters around him, if I can be that content at his age, all good.

Matt Baxter
Matt Baxter, creative director, Baxter and Bailey

I’ve just started reading Terry Gilliam’s autobiography Gilliamesque – a gorgeous and weighty slab of a book published by Canongate – and it’s reminded me how big an influence he was on my early creative life. So, like Gilliam, I’m going to break your pesky brief and chose a director rather than a film.

Here are a few reasons why I think he’s ace; he has a creative vision and a consistently bonkers aesthetic, visible from Time Bandits (definitely vying for position as my number one film) right through to Zero Theorem; he sticks to his guns, no matter what the cost (illustrated vividly at the D&AD President’s Lecture he gave many years ago where he described his fight to get Brazil released); he loves to draw and does it brilliantly; and he doesn’t mind looking like a nutjob, a rare and respectable trait amongst film directors.

Alan Dye
Alan Dye, creative director, NB Studio

Gregory’s Girl and Blade Runner. Two completely different films made around the same time.

Gregory’s Girl for the painful adolescence of falling in love – the judgment clouded by raw emotion and girls. I was Gregory of course.

Blade Runner, probably most designers’ choice, but what an absolutely beautiful film. Vangelis’ accompanying sound track was my background music of choice throughout the 80s and still is now. God, it’s probably the best film track ever conceived.

The film ended with Rutger Hauer’s “Tears in Rain” monologue, capturing every human emotion. Then there are Ridley Scott’s visuals, the rain, the heartbreak, the longing…

I’m also a big fan of The Man Who Fell to Earth, directed by Nic Roeg. The use of flare, the camera work, the abstract story and Bowie was in it! Wow!

Which films have inspired you? Let us know in the comment section below. 

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  • Deborah Budd October 15, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    “The Thomas Crown Affair,” 1968. The use of split screen images, the cars, the clothes, the close-ups, the clothes, the soundtrack… did I mention the clothes?

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