Design Thinking 101: Recommended TV shows Part 1

We have been talking a lot about inspiration lately. Some people would consider slumping down onto the sofa to binge watch television to be inspiration’s antithesis, but we’ve gathered a few of our favourite series that explore the world of design thinking. And all from the comfort of your living room.


This series is about the art of design. Each episode focuses on a single influential personality in a specialised discipline and goes through their career with a fine-toothed comb, examining every stage of their design process and their career. The fact that the show also highlights the human side of each designer, their struggles and their life, can make it a pretty inspirational experience for any young creatives too.

Watch via YouTube

Chef’s Table

Fair warning, do not watch this show if you are hungry.  Chef’s Table, like Abstract, follows a single master chef through their career and the definitive unique dishes that they have created. Throughout the show you can see how their culture and history has influenced their creative decisions, but you can also see how those creative decisions have rippled out and changed the industry that they rule. Of particular interest is the episode about the farm to table movement; showing how Design Thinking can be applied to chickens to get the best eggs!

Watch via YouTube

Tales by Light

Each episode of this series starts from a single image – the finished product of the photographer’s craft – and works backwards through the whole process that led to the moment being captured. This show doesn’t only show you the process and planning that went into the creation of iconic images, it also showcases the technical virtues that photographers pursue with expertly framed shots, stunning visuals and composition in every shot.

Watch via YouTube

The Century of Self

Examining the ways that the acceptance of psychology fed into the creation of advertising. This series starts out following the life story of Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, who used psychological insights to market products to people using their deepest desires and impulses before switching track when the emergence of counter-culture began to disprove Bernays’ theories to examine the rise of the focus group and the belief in emotion as the driver for decision making.

Watch via YouTube

Secrets of Silicon Valley

This British documentary runs a little contrary to many of the other documentary series. Taking a more cynical look at the “disruption” companies based in Silicon Valley and seriously questioning the worth of many of their inventions. It is a fascinating dip into the often overlooked ethical side of design. Asking not just if something can be made but whether it should be made.

Watch via Vimeo

If you liked our selection, you’ll be pleased to hear we had too many recommendations to fit into one post! Next time we are going to be moving out of old media and into the new with our recommended podcasts.

The Labs Team

Sutherland Labs