x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Design DNA finds the building blocks of stylish products

A new TV series looks at some of the classics of design and their impact on our lives.

An Eames lounge chair and ottoman. NIck Merrick / AP
An Eames lounge chair and ottoman. NIck Merrick / AP

"Good design is all about making other designers feel like idiots because that idea wasn't theirs," says Frank Chimero, a popular American graphic designer.

It's not hard at all to feel inadequate when one considers the many creative minds who have bested a blank sketch pad to fill our world with objects, furniture and technology of breathtaking beauty, simplicity and functionality.

It's fun to think of Design DNA as a biography show that tells the life story of our household heroes — a designer chair, a museum-worthy table or even an ordinary toilet.

"Design DNA combines the simplicity of How It's Made, the popular manufacturing show, with high-style design," says the executive producer Andrew Burnstein of Castlewood Productions in Canada. "This show focuses on the amazing stories of the world's most extraordinary and ordinary pieces of home design.

"From the first spark of conception throughout the trial and error of design, to the factory floor, and finally to a stunning reveal in a magnificent home, each episode features the life story of three iconic and sometimes not so iconic pieces of home design."

From the common to the exquisite, each episode profiles the "upbringing" of three indispensable and iconic elements of home design. With a snappy pace and fact-rich presentation, this is one cool show.

As it introduces us to the personalities and thought processes that led to that eureka moment, even the most humdrum objects come to life. This week's premiere back-to-back episodes take a look at the following classic designs.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

This coveted mixer was the choice of Julia Child; her cobalt blue "Stan" mixer now sits proudly in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. This appliance has changed little since the 1930s when it was invented; it remains a must-have on bridal registries.

Eames Lounge and ottoman

Created by American design royalty, the brothers Charles and Ray Eames, more than five decades ago, this classically modern lounge and ottoman unite moulded veneer and supple leather upholstery to create unmatched comfort. See it in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Braun Shaver

Before "dry" shaving arrived in the 1960s from the German engineers, men often took it on the chin with nicks and cuts. Braun's legendary product designer Dieter Rams's influence remains evident even today in the company's sleek Series 7 shaver.

All-Clad Sauté Pan

The three-quart sauté pan is often referred to as the "Little Black Dress" of the kitchen; it performs on the stove-top or in the oven. Stainless steel, aluminium and copper meld to create the ideal surface adored by pro chefs and home gourmets alike.

Miele 1000 series washers

It not only washes your clothes, it looks mighty fine doing it, too. Miele, with more than a century of experience, also designed the W1000 series to employ microprocessors and a patented drum design to give you whiter whites without wear and tear on your fabrics.

Umbra Garbino

Even the humble rubbish pail gets some glory; the sleek, practical and stylish Garbino also squats elegantly and deservedly in the Museum of Modern Art. This vibrantly coloured plastic receptacle has won accolades for its functionality. It's a shining example of "democratic design".

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

When it comes to appraising the shape of things to come, it's often helpful to recall the puckish words of the legendary Dutch designer Mieke Gerritzen: "Good design goes to heaven; bad design goes everywhere."

Design DNA premieres at 6pm and then at 11pm Monday on Discovery HD Showcase