The holidays are nigh, and there’s no better way to decompress from a year of work, political tension, and existential dread than to get lost in Netflix’s myriad movies and television shows. More specifically, the streaming service has particularly strong offerings in the way of design series and documentary films focused on technology and the global economy. Read below for our favorite picks to Netflix and chill with.
‘The Great Hack’
This 2019 documentary film is about last year’s Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, in which the U.K.-based political consulting firm performed “political-voter surveillance,” aided by Facebook’s selling of private data. The film is told through the perspective of those who were in close proximity to the scandal, and touches on themes of UX, privacy, and tech design, more broadly.
‘Abstract: The Art of Design,’ Season 2
This original documentary series, now in its second season, highlights a different artist each episode—all of whom work in the field of design. Step into the creative mind of artist Olafur Eliasson or the vivid, multilayered world of costume designer Ruth Carter.
‘Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things’
Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo has touted the positive effects of tidying up for years, but American homes have caught on more recently. KonMari, her method for eliminating anything that doesn’t “spark joy,” has caught on like wildfire, so it’s not surprising that we’ve seen a return to simple living. This compelling documentary follows two minimalists as they explore the concept of “less is more,” and disrupts the consumerist belief that we can buy happiness.
‘The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes’
Hosted by architect Piers Taylor and actress Caroline Quentin, this three-series Netflix Original uncovers some of the most remarkable works of architecture around the world. The show, focused on bold home design and its relationship to the surrounding environment (whether that’s the forest or the expansive vistas of Spain), offers endless inspiration to both designers and homeowners alike.
The first film distributed by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, this documentary film explores the acquisition of an old General Motors plant outside of Dayton, Ohio, by Fuyao, a Chinese glass manufacturing company. American Factory focuses on the workers’ point of view, and the relationship between manufacturing, labor, and the global economy.
‘Dream Big: Engineering Our World’
Narrated by actor Jeff Bridges, this documentary unpacks the wonders of engineering in different locations around the globe. Tune in for background on how the world’s most impressive roads, monuments, metro rails, and satellites are built and designed.
‘Search for the Super Battery’
This telefilm, which originally aired on PBS, is an exploration of what technology will look like in the future. Viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at how modern innovations like solar parks and self-driving cars are created, and how the science and tech industries have come together to power batteries with alternative energy sources.
‘Lego House: Home of the Brick’
In 2017, Denmark’s Lego House officially opened to the public. Designed by Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group, the sprawling play place is located in the town of Billund—home of the Lego headquarters. This documentary, hosted by BIG’s lead architect Bjarke Ingels, shows the seven-year journey behind the creation of this colorful work of plastic architecture.