What is the best TV programme you have seen about design?

We look at some of the best representations of design on the small screen.

Omar Honigh

“Grand Designs. The programmes follow the whole spectrum of self-starters who set out to build their designed home. The beauty is that it documents the extraordinary lengths people of all ages go through to realise their dream space. It never judges, even when some of the design or build choices that people make are unusual. Fascinating viewing. Most importantly it elevates and promotes respect for design. Which can only be a good thing.”

Omar Honigh, founder, Studio Hansa

John Scarrott

“If I’m allowed, I’ve chosen two. The first is the early series of Alex Polizzi’s The Fixer. What makes it good for me is that it’s about the design of a business. It tackles an overall problem in the shape of a failing family business and looks at it from all angles: people, product positioning etc. Alex is authentic. She comes from a family business background so she brings a good mix of strength and empathy. She is able to size up a situation and develop a strategy to save the business. She is also versatile, demonstrated by her working with all sorts of family businesses, from bakers to bridalwear to garden centres. I also have a soft spot for family businesses, having grown up with two myself. Design businesses are often asked to do some work for a company where the project is just the tip of the iceberg that lies beneath. And this is the same for Alex as she finds these businesses on the edge of collapse and pulls them back from the brink. As she scratches the surface more and more of the situation emerges, which involves the people, politics and relationships that underpin the culture of the business. Then the work begins! My second is Take Hart. This is one from my childhood. I loved Morph and Chas and how they managed to communicate a message with tone and Tony Hart’s gentle and straightforward voice got me into drawing and motivated me to keep going. I sent in a couple of pictures for the Gallery and watched eagerly each week… but sadly neither was selected. My only regret!”

John Scarrott, membership director, Design Business Association

Jeremy Myerson

“TV programmes on design usually leave me crimson with embarrassment and rage. They are either unbelievably trite and superficial or stupefyingly dull and boring. The exception in my recent experience was Tom Dyckhoff’s brilliantly crafted Channel 4 series, The Secret Life of Buildings. The programme on office design was a real delight, especially the visit to Herman Herzberger’s wonderful Centraal Beheer masterpiece.”

Jeremy Myerson, director, Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design

Max Fraser

“Unfortunately, TV programmes about design tend to lean towards the glossy or more superficial ‘lick of paint’ definition, in the form of home makeover shows. However, a few shows stick in my head: Evan Davis’ Made in Britain series, looking at the UK’s manufacturing history in line with shifts in politics, society and the economy. Also, Tom Dyckhoff’s The Secret Life of Buildings really explored how the design of our built environment has a profound effect on productivity, relationships, health etc.”

Max Fraser, deputy director, London Design Festival

Nik Roope

“This isn’t strictly a design show but it was the inspiration throughout my childhood that awakened my fascination with the collision of design and technology and how radical thinking needs packaging in great design in order to really resonate. The studio was always stylish and minimal, fashion sense and hair styling progressive and the show’s identity was literally years ahead (I still don’t think we’re caught up yet). Yes, you guessed it: Tomorrow’s World.”

Nicolas Roope, co-founder, Poke

Hide Comments (3)Show Comments (3)
  • Laurence Hughes November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Although a little annoying at times, I mostly enjoyed watching a short lived BBC 2 programme called Design For Life with Philippe Starck. Also The Culture Show can have design specials from time to time and I always enjoy a bit of Grand Designs.

  • Martin Cartwright November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The PITCH on Sky Atlantic was very good, although it was all american based agencies it was a really good insight to how ad agencies go about putting together pitches.

  • George Kay February 23, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    The late 1980s and 1990s BBC show ‘Building Sights’ where members of various industries e.g. music, poetry, fine art etc. gave their interpretation of what they consider their favourite piece of architecture. Some episodes can still be watched in the BBC Four Archive on the iPlayer. The Humber Bridge episode with poet Simon Armitage is a particular favourite.

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