Redlines getting you down? Having trouble getting started on that latest draft? Do you just need to recharge your creative batteries? Have no fear, a television critic* is here! Check out these design-centered shows for when you need to sit back, relax, and take an hour or twelve away from the computer.
Note: These recommendations are based on US availability. If you’re outside of the US, you may not have access to these programs or they may be available from a different provider.
The Big Picture
Abstract: The Art of Design, Netflix
This whole show is about brilliant designers. Over the course of 8 45-minute episodes, it explores the people behind the art, and tackles everything from architecture (Bjarke Ingels) to stage design (Es Devlin), automotive design (Ralph Gilles), and interior design (Ilse Crawford). If that’s not enough, the music is done by the legendary Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo and the Rugrats soundtrack (yes, you read that correctly).
The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes, Netflix
Whatever you think about its occasionally overly explain-y hosts (actress/real estate developer Caroline Quentin and architect Piers Taylor), The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes has got the goods when it comes to the title proposition. The first episode starts off with a true stunner: the 747 Wing House, which is built into the side of a mountain using the wings of a decommissioned Boeing 747, and doesn’t cease to amaze over the course of the rest of the hour. The next three episodes are feasts for the eyes, brain, and heart in their own ways, featuring subterranean gems, coastal beauties, and one massive glass box situated in the middle of the Catskills (designed by Jay Bargmann).
Whether you’re looking for feats of engineering (Marina Bay Sands in Singapore), wonders of manipulation (Icehotel in Sweden), or just extreme extravagance (Royal Mansour in Morocco), you’ll find it in Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby. While we wish the show focused a bit more on just how some of the more incredible structures were engineered and built, the fact that some of them manage to exist at all given the fact that they’re right in the middle of a cloud forest (Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador). Sometimes more fascinating than the architecture is what’s required to run the hotel, and in fact, Marina Bay Sands’ incredibly complex (and often unseen) laundry system rivals the famous rooftop infinity pool for engineering cred.