Design for the win: Netflix's Abstract nominated for this year's Emmy Outstanding Main Title Design Award
Abstract: The Art of Design aka the groundbreaking Netflix original documentary series, has been nominated for a 2020 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design.
“While there’s not a single frame in Abstract that we didn’t pore over, we are particularly pleased to be recognized for the opening credits—the Godfrey Dadich Partners team is a tad obsessed with the topic. How to begin a story can be the hardest part of telling one—that proverbial blank page—so getting the credits just right sets the tone for the whole show” reads GDP's Instagram post.⠀
The nomination at this year's Emmy is for the episode on Jonathan Hoefler, one of the most famous type designers in the world. The team has thanked Hoefler for giving them “such brilliant typefaces to compose with—truly work to be inspired by.”⠀
When the first season of Abstract: the Art of Design debuted on Netflix in February of 2017, the TV landscape changed forever.
Created by Godfrey Dadich Partners co-founder and co-CEO Scott Dadich, Abstract took viewers into the minds and the creative processes of renowned artists in a variety of fields to explore the question: What is design?
Eventually the show “drew raves, sparked cultural conversations, garnered an Emmy nomination, and even inspired the ultimate compliment: a parody from Comedy Central.” After its success Netflix soon green-lit Abstract’s second season.
With the first season of Abstract: The Art of Design so well received the team had a challenge. To expand on its successes in the following second season.
“The show first premiered at Sundance on Inauguration Day, and that weighed on us,” says Scott. “It made us think about how we’d want to stretch the definition of what design could be in the second season, how it could pave a way forward, and provide a more conscious route to optimism.”
As noted “with humanity facing so many seemingly insoluble challenges—environmental degradation, the rise of nativism, uncivil discourse amplified by social media—Abstract needed to engage an audience hungry for tangible solutions.”
For the second season, GDP and their collaborators at RadicalMedia and Tremolo Productions set out to find six visionaries “who aren’t simply shaping our culture—they are shaping humanity’s future by addressing some of society’s most pressing problems in their work.” With more than 200 candidates exploredsix designers across all disciplined emerged as the perfect stars for Abstract’s second season.
Danish-Icelandic artist who creates sensory-rich immersive installations Olafur Eliasson, MIT Media Lab’s professor Neri Oxman, Oscar-winner costume designer, visual storyteller and frequent Spike Lee collaborator Ruth E. Carter, queer designer and artivist Cas Holman, former design leader for YouTube, Foursquare, Nike and Head of Design for Instagram at the time of filming Ian Spalter and typeface designer and founder of the influential Hoefler Type Foundry Jonathan Hoefler unveiled their stories and visions during the show’s second season.
The team at GDP oversaw creation of the eye-catching motion graphics, which had received an Emmy nomination once again at this year’s awards.
“Each episode had its own distinctive style, and painstakingly storyboarded animation sequences illuminated the unique personality and style of the profiled artist while simultaneously embodying the power of great design” reads GDP's post.
“Abstract’s opening segments offered a riotous visual introduction to the life and work of the episode subject. We oversaw the creation of the eye-popping motion graphics.”
GDP commissioned illustrator Joe McKendry “to create the hero key art used in the promotion of the series. It was crafted to represent the varied disciplines of our season two cast. The visual approach incorporates the ‘mechanical files’—schematics, sketches, printer’s marks—our cast members might use. The art, designed to be modular and scalable, was delivered in multiple orientations so that it could be used in posters, billboards, and all Netflix product experiences.”
The company also developed key art that Netflix used to promote the series both within their service and outside in the world and an in-house team at GDP also created an animated execution in 3D specifically built for a billboard in Times Square.
The bespoke video piece showcased the visual identity of each artist and episode of the series. Over the course of its month-long engagement in Times Square, the animation was viewed an estimated 3.3 million times.
Eventually the second installment of the Netflix original series received raves. Architectural Digest called it “a bingeworthy watch full of inspiration for designers in any field.” The Daily Dot said it is “so immersive that viewers may wish to reach into the TV.”
New York Times TV critic Margaret Lyons named it her top pick in her Watching weekly newsletter. “Every episode of Abstract is good,” she wrote. “Each 45-minute installment feels distinct from the others stylistically in addition to the major differences between the subjects. If you want something nutritious but not miserable, or if you want to feel a happy jolt of creativity, watch this.”This culminated in Abstract winning “Best Episodic Series” of 2019 from the prestigious International Documentary Association. Apart from this year's Emmy nomination, season two of the series was also nominated for a Critics Choice Real TV Award and a Los Angeles Area Emmy® Award.
The Abstract team is up against some heady competition in this year's 2020 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design category including The Morning Show, Watchmen, Godfather of Harlem, The Politician, and Westworld.
Winners will be announced September 20. ⠀