Design Documentaries by Gary Hustwit

The Smart List is a monthly list of multi-media recommendations on everything design, curated by Interwoven Design. In this issue we share a selection of design documentaries that come from the New York based, world renowned filmmaker and visual artist, Gary Hustwit. His films have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and have been broadcasted on PBS, BBC, HBO and Netflix. We love films that offer a fresh perspective on design history as well as contemporary design. The four films we’ve chosen here feature an in-depth analysis of the industries under the umbrella of design.

The Smart List: Design Documentaries by Gary Hustwit

1. Rams


The documentary Rams highlights the life story of legendary German industrial designer Dieter Rams, who was the chief designer at Braun from 1961 to 1995. His impact on modern day products spans across many categories but he is best known for his clean, minimalist home appliances, his influence on Apple’s design aesthetic, and his 10 design principles. The film tells a story of consumerism, sustainability and innovation through interviews with Rams as well as his friends and colleagues.

2. Objectified


The film Objectified features a viewpoint into the process behind creating the objects around us everyday. Hustwit confronts industrial design and the base of consumerism by how it impacts our ecological, financial and social climates. The director compels discussion through the want of the newest product versus filling landfills.

3. Urbanized


Urbanized is a film diving into the modern urban planning era and its impact on the people that populate its cities around the world. Hustwit and his team encapsulate topics that challenge the ’cause and effects’ of urban planning. The insight and interviews with renowned architects, builders, and leaders invoke debate into unconsidered reasoning.

4. Workplace


The film Workplace dives into the ‘new normal’ that COVID-19 has implemented into our work-life balance. The documentary studies life in an New York office evolution by renowned architects, Foster + Partners. Information and data collection leads to strategic results that are still currently debated between employees and employers fighting for the equilibrium between remote and in office work.

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Fun Fall Activities

The Smart List is a monthly list of multi-media recommendations on everything design, curated by Interwoven Design. In this issue we share some of the cool events and fun activities we’re looking forward to this fall, from cutting edge films at the New York Film Film Festival and artist-selected art at the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit to fashion pop-culture at at the Virgil Abloh exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum and a quirky trove of treasures at the latest New York Public Library exhibit.

The Smart List: Fun Fall Activities 2022
The Smart List: Fun Fall Activities 2022

Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” 

at The Brooklyn Museum, July 1, 2022–January 29, 2023

Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech” is a multidisciplinary exhibit that celebrates the work of late American fashion designer Virgil Abloh. He is best known for his work as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear and as the founder the iconic fashion label Off-White, which he defined as “the gray area between black and white.” Abloh was raised outside Chicago, the child of Ghanaian immigrants. His work combines streetwear, luxury, art, music, and travel, to speak across cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. This exhibit, created by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, is the first to be dedicated to his work. It spans 20 years of his fashion practice and includes incredible collaborations with artists, architects, musicians, and more.

Smithsonian Museum Day

at participating museums, Saturday September 17th, 2022

Museum Day is an annual event celebrating history, science, arts, and culture hosted by Smithsonian Magazine. Participating museums and cultural institutions provide free entry to visitors with a Museum Day ticket.

Participating museums for 2022 include The Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum,  The Museum of Arts and Design, The Museum of the City of New York, The New York City Fire Museum, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor, Poster House, The AKC Museum of the Dog, The Noble Maritime Collection, and The Williamsburg Art & Historical Center.

60th New York Film Festival

Lincoln Center, September 30th – October 16th, 2022

The New York Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film festivals in America. It showcases a highly curated selection of international films, just a few dozen out of over 1,500 submissions are accepted and the structure is non-competitive, with no prizes offered beyond the prestige and exposure of being selected. The only limitation is films that have not yet been screened in New York City, and the selection committee prioritizes cinematic works that push the boundaries of film and challenge the audience. Selections for the 60th festival include Noah Baumbach’s White Noise, Laura Poitras’ All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, and Elegance Bratton’s The Inspection as well as lectures, discussions, and specialty screenings.

The Polonsky Exhibition of New York Public Library’s Treasures 

at the New York Public Library, permanent exhibition

The New York Public Library has been collecting and preserving knowledge for over 125 years, accumulating millions of objects in that time. The Polonsky Exhibition of New York Public Library’s Treasures features over 4,000 years of ​​manuscripts, artworks, still and moving images, recordings, and more that bring this collection to life. It is the library’s first permanent exhibit, freshly launched this summer and free to the public indefinitely. Visit in person or check out the online exhibition to explore this incredible archive.

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Influential Designer + Artist Biographies

The Smart List is a monthly list of multi-media recommendations on everything design, curated by Interwoven Design. In this issue we share biographies of designers and artists who changed their respective industries with their vision and drive. If you are looking for some creative inspiration, any of these books is a wonderful place to start.

The Smart List: Influential Designer + Artist Biographies
The Smart List: Influential Designer + Artist Biographies

Everything She Touched: The Life of Ruth Asawa

by Marilyn Chase

Ruth Asawa was an American sculptor in the modern style and is best known for her hanging wire sculptures, which are featured in the most exclusive museums in the world, and her powerful urban installations. She spent her childhood in World War II Japanese-American interment camps, going on to study arts at Black Mountain College, the famously innovative liberal arts school in rural North Carolina. The high quality photography and artwork reproduced for this edition make it more than a compelling life story. KQED Arts wrote of Chase’s work, “Everything She Touched reveals the emotional life and personal trials of a social pathbreaker and civic leader. Author Marilyn Chase connects the barbed wire and dispossession of Asawa’s early life to the artist’s transformative approach to spooled metal, and intimately conveys the teeming creative life inside her home studio as it filled with six children.”

We Flew Over the Bridge: Memoirs of Faith Ringgold

by Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold is a painter, mixed media sculptor, performance artist, teacher, and writer known for the painted and story quilts that blend her diverse skills into a unique art form. She is also lauded for her own award winning children’s books as well as her vivid and engaging illustrations for the books of others. In We Flew Over the Bridge Ringgold shares a life story full of struggle and prejudice as well as triumph and love. Carrie Rickey of the Philadelphia Inquirer summarizes the underlying theme beautifully; “Bridging is the major motif of Ringgold’s life. . . . She is a bridge between the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights era. She is a bridge between her mother’s applied art of fashion design and her own fine art of painting and story quilts. She is a bridge between the black power movement and the women’s movement. And she is a bridge between the abstract art that dominated the ‘60s and the issue-oriented art that connected with viewers’ hearts—and lives.”

Diane Arbus

by Patricia Bosworth

Diane Arbus was an American photographer known for her controversial photos of marginalized populations, including carnival performers, nudists, those with dwarfism, strippers, and middle-class families. She was especially interested in capturing people who were actively creating their own identities, and in capturing them in their own environments. Her ambitious and highly productive career is overshadowed by her suicide in 1971, and Bosworth captures the complexity and intensity of her life in this comprehensive biography.

Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art

by Mary Gabriel

Ninth Street Women chronicles five iconic women who made a space for themselves in the overwhelmingly male-dominated space of twentieth-century abstract painting. Gabriel presents vivid portraits of each artist, outlining just why their work is so groundbreaking. This is five biographies for the price of one, and provides an excellent scaffolding for understanding the core dynamics of abstract modern art. Ann Landi of the Wall Street Journal praised the portraits; “Ninth Street Women is like a great, sprawling Russian novel, filled with memorable characters and sharply etched scenes. It’s no mean feat to breathe life into five very different and very brave women, none of whom gave a whit about conventional mores. But Ms. Gabriel fleshes out her portraits with intimate details, astute analyses of the art and good old-fashioned storytelling.”

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Staple Items of a Designer

The Smart List is a monthly list of multi-media recommendations on everything design, curated by Interwoven Design. In this issue we share the design staples that our team would never be without. These are objects that we carry around and use constantly. If by some tragedy they are not available, we get sad. If we find a store that sells them, we get happy. It is not a coincidence that most of them are office supplies, as getting our thoughts on paper is critical to the design process. We love tools that are a delight to use, and these are some of our favorites.

The Smart List: Designer Staples
The Smart List: Designer Staples

Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens

Muji’s Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens are available in a range of tip sizes and a rainbow of colors. At $1.50 each they are an incredible value, featuring smooth writing action, quick-drying ink, and great consistency of color. Get one each of the rainbow and black packs and you’ll be set to sketch your design heart out.

Fieldnotes Notepads

The Field Notes co-founder Aaron Draplin was inspired by promotional memo books that were sent to American farmers by agricultural companies throughout the 20th century, collecting hundreds of these vintage booklets bursting with the charm of old school graphic design. The brand is always releasing limited edition books and changing up their diverse offerings. We like the classic small and medium sizes but find the style that works for you. We always have one of these in our bags or in our pockets, ready to take notes or do a quick sketch at all times!

Neiko Digital Caliper

The Neiko Digital Caliper is our first, our last, our everything. A designer is lost without a precise measuring tool, and this is our caliper of choice. Convert between measuring modes rapidly with one button, measure with accuracy up to 0.001” / 0.02mm, measure interior, exterior, and depth dimensions easily with the various probes, and read the results easily on the large LCD screen. Trust us, once you have this baby, you’ll want to measure everything.

iPhone (duh?)

This one kind of goes without saying in the design industry, and there are really good reasons why. The iPhone has superb customer support, gets the best apps first, makes digital payments fast and easy, and pairs beautifully with other Apple products. It has great, intuitive user interface and incredible hardware and software integration compared to Android alternatives, which is the benefit of Apple owning the entire device. Oh, and it’s effortless to upgrade operating systems. Solid camera and video specs, too. If you don’t have one and it seems like we’re judging you…we are sorry in advance.

Funky Sneakers

We especially love funky sneakers for summer so pick your poison, the market is overflowing with fun trainers. Our favorite brands at the moment are embracing sustainability and highlighting the climate crisis, including Thousand Fell, the first recyclable sneaker, and the Adidas x Allbirds collaboration made in part with recycled materials for a low carbon footprint. Bonus item if you need them: funky glasses!

Sticky Notes, Highlighters & Sharpies!

The design industry must be one of the largest consumers of Post-Its in the world. Most of the designers we know look like they are single-handedly keeping sticky notes in business, and we are no exception (especially the orange ones!). While we love a good digital tool, there is no substitute for good old markers and stickies when it comes to brainstorming, concept development, mind-mapping, and so much more. The abundant volumes of Sharpies in our lives is a sight to behold…and yes, we need them all. You know how some people can’t be without lip balm? We are like that with Sharpies. To a non-designer it might seem like we have a problem but other designers don’t bat an eye. They get it.

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LGBTQ+ Smart List: Pride Edition

The Smart List is a monthly list of multi-media recommendations on everything design, curated by Interwoven Design. At Interwoven we support and celebrate diversity in all its forms, and Pride Month gives us the perfect opportunity to engage with and be allies for the LGBTQ+ community. In NYC we are especially spoiled with chances to learn and play this month. Coming up: an epic march, an astonishing art exhibit by an artist with no arms, and a queer film event for horror fans.

Pride March

June 26, 2022 at 12pm

The annual NYC Pride March is organized by the non profit Heritage of Pride, which produces a wide range of events throughout Pride Month, with the Pride March as the crown jewel. Photos can’t do it justice and we love to be in the thick of it. Every year the events are held in honor of the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, the moment in civil rights history responsible for the modern Gay Rights movement. Check out the full calendar of events for even more opportunities to support the community or be one of the thousands to volunteer and make it all possible.

Lorenza Böttner: Requiem for the Norm

April 14th – August 15, 2022

The Leslie Lohman Museum of Art will show the Lorenza Böttner: Requiem for the Norm exhibit all summer. Böttner was an artist who lost both arms when young. She began to identify as female in art school, where she painted hundreds of paintings with her mouth and feet in addition to experimenting with street art, dance, photography, and more. Her work is playful and grounded in a sensual appreciation and central presence of the body.

PRIDE: Photographs of Stonewall and Beyond by Fred W. McDarrah

The Museum of New York City will host an exhibit of the photographs of Fred W. McDarrah. McDarrah was a critical voice covering important political events of the 60s and 70s for The Village Voice, including the civil and gay rights movements and the historic Stonewall Uprising. McDarrah was avid in his documentation, accumulating an astonishing archive of American political history.

*While this exhibit has ended, the Museum of New York City always has wonderful gems of New York history on display.

Queer|Art|Film Club

June 28th, 2022 at 8pm

Author Torrey Peters presents Let the Right One In, a digital zoom event in which she will share the significance of the 2008 Swedish horror film on her life and her work. “I finally came out,” she shared, “and I watched it again, and it seemed like yet another film all together–a film about xenophobia and the abject.”

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