Abstract: Making Business Creative

Abstract: Making Business Creative

Abstract is one of the most creatively centered documentaries you could have access to with a Netflix account. With an array of creative geniuses, this documentary not only focuses on the profile of creatives but also the industry they choose to pursue.

Being a creative and learning how to make your path as a businessman, or businesswoman, is tricky. Many people think freelancing or entering the workforce is the only way a creative can make their way through the business world, but Abstract shows how many people are etching their path in their own way.

Each episode looks into a different creative avenue, whether that be graphic design, car design, architecture, or shoe design. With only 8 episodes and 1 season, the series isn’t very difficult to watch. The tone of each episode is pretty calming despite being in some noisy environments. The creatives are very centered on being conversational and giving glimpses into their everyday life. While the main focus is the creative in question, each episode has various collaborators that are in the top of their field. Having so many creative minds makes it easier to see who to look out for in addition to the main profile.

I think this is a great documentary, especially if you are trying to decide or see where a creative endeavor could take you professionally. Of course, each sector requires their own skill set which could help anyone trying to decide on how they want to pursue their creative talents in business.

Christoph Niemann: Illustration

Working for the New Yorker in any capacity is an impressive professional accomplishment. No matter if it’s as a writer, editor, or designer, being published in the New Yorker is considered a highly competitive achievement. Christoph Niemann happens to be an illustrator with many contributions but, for the case of Abstract, is looking at being published in the New Yorker with a 4-D spin on the cover art.

Tinker Hatfield: Footwear Design

I never considered footwear to be so centered around design. I knew it was creative and people can go crazy about shoes, but I didn’t consider it really as design. I loved learning about Tinker Hatfield though. I think his impact with creating Jordans and Nike have earned him the right to be included in this creative sector. Nike has always been heavily encased in its functional sportswear, so the fact that Hatfield is able to make the leap from function to appealing, while not new, is its own feat. 

Es Devlin: Stage Design

I did not know about Es Devlin before Abstract. I knew stage design was a medium but I had not looked into the genre before. Devlin has created some of the most advanced stage designs today. You only have to look at Beyonce’s Formation Tour in 2016 when a block showcased Beyonce from all angles for the crowd. While Devlin’s range goes beyond pop culture’s concert arenas, she has made a name for herself by being innovative with the audience’s perception of the stage.

Bjarke Ingels: Architecture

I’ve always been a fan of architecture, even if I never could deal with the math that came with its execution. I think Bjarke Ingels’ episode is a perfect way to showcase being innovative about architecture. Not only do his designs remain sleek and functional, but his firm also creates multi-purposed and futuristic designs. Whether he is utilizing color, providing a green space, or creating a ski slope on top of a building, Igles is sure to stun with his creativity.

Ralph Gilles: Automotive Design

Automotive Design is another medium that I had never thought much about. I had grown up watching Garage Monkey and Orange County Choppers so I knew about restoration projects being creative, but never the initial designs. Considering the “phoenix from the ashes” angle the producers took, Gilles seems to be one of the best at creating new contemporary car designs. I think I had a hard time connecting with this piece due to my lack of knowledge about the topic. I believe it fits well in this setting so I am glad it was included in Abstract, but I just wasn’t personally vetted in the episode.

Paula Scher: Graphic Design

I am thrilled they included Paula Scher in this documentary. Scher is one of my favorite designers as well as a well acclaimed role-model for many of my peers, I am sure. What I loved about Scher’s episode is how the design aspect was probably more focused on her past work while her current work was focused on editing and assisting other designers along with her own paintings. I think this helped broaden the scope that Scher possesses and utilizes for her own design work.

Platon: Photography

As a fan of photography, I was really influenced by Platon’s approach to photography. He invested a lot of time and energy to get not only the right shot, but also the right story. Taking the time to showcase the emotion or appeal to any particular cause that Platon is looking to evoke allows his photographs to transcend his film and printing process. I love Platon’s portrait photography, especially due to his straightforward and direct approach to his subjects.

Ilse Crawford: Interior Design

I’ve always been curious about interior design but had never gotten the hang of things in that field. I still don’t have the hang of things, but Ilse Crawford does a great job of explaining how she got her start and how she continues to move into the future. Like Scher, Crawford also focuses on helping a younger generation learn about interior design at her teaching position. Whether she’s working on editorials for interior magazines, teaching her students or incorporating her mark for clients, Crawford makes sure to envelope the sphere of interior design.


I love documentaries that give me the chance to see new, innovative ways to approach a business. Each one of these designers allows the viewer to see a conventional and sometimes unconventional way to create a space for themselves as a great in their chosen field. Many people see their only way in is through a traditional route, but these entrepreneurs chose to break the status quo and achieve more than the traditional route could offer them.

Are there any other documentaries that showcase creativity? Let me know in the comments section so I can check them out!

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