Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

"Abstract: The Art of Design": Netflix series is fast, funny, and without critique

Courtesy of Netflix.

Forget Woody Allen (if you haven’t already), illustrator Christoph Niemann is here to represent the urban neurotic creative. With pictures! Niemann is one of eight subjects of the new Netflix documentary series Abstract: The Art of Design, which premieres February 10.

Niemann’s episode gives him the screen as his sketchbook to talk about his process, to play with Legos, to explain the very concept of abstraction via an animated “Abstract-O-Meter.” He feels less like a documentary subject than director Morgan Neville’s collaborator (or maybe hijacker), willing himself into and out of situations as a grown-up Harold with a purple crayon.

Abstract brings newfangled technology to the age-old task of explaining what designers do. It’s delightful to see so much money thrown at people who, almost unanimously, think best with a pen and a pad of paper.