What We Do

Design OnscreenThe Initiative for Architecture and Design on Film is a non-profit foundation dedicated to producing, promoting and preserving high-quality films on architecture and design.

Founded in 2007 by Denver documentary enthusiasts Jill A. Wiltse and H. Kirk Brown III, Design Onscreen has five completed films to its credit, with two more currently in production or pre-production.  These films include: Hella Jongerius: Contemporary Archetypes (premiered in May 2009 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art); Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler (winner of an Audience Award at the 2010 Newport Beach Film Festival);  William Krisel, Architect (recently honored with three 2011 Telly Awards); and Desert Utopia: Midcentury Architecture in Palm Springs. Design Onscreen’s latest film, Contemporary Days: The Designs of Lucienne and Robin Day, premiered in May 2010 at Washington DC’s National Geographic Museum, and has toured festivals worldwide including London, New York, Chicago, Moscow, Glasgow, Cape Town, Newport Beach and Montreal.

Design Onscreen:

  • distributes its programming widely, via multiple media formats and public screenings, to national and international audiences;
  • promotes a greater general understanding and appreciation of post-World War II design;
  • informs and elevates the ongoing “conversation” among professional architects and designers;
  • works in a collaborative manner with museums, schools, universities, professional design groups, film societies and other educational organizations; and
  • supports only the highest quality programming utilizing the most creative minds in film production.

Design Onscreen distributes its programming as widely as possible, via multiple media formats and channels, to national and international audiences.  Since 2008, Design Onscreen has co-presented Architecture & Design Film Series in both Palm Springs and Denver, attracting thousands of attendees.  Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler had its European premiere at the Architecture Film Festival in Rotterdam, Holland in November 2009 and Design Onscreen’s latest film, Contemporary Days: The Designs of Lucienne and Robin Day has toured festivals worldwide including London, New York, Chicago, Moscow, Glasgow, Cape Town, Newport Beach and Montreal.   At all of these events, we continue to find new and enthusiastic supporters.  In December 2010, Design Onscreen expanded its audience further by co-sponsoring and curating the first-ever Moscow Architecture Film Festival (in partnership with the State Museum of Architecture.

Design Onscreen’s activities inform and elevate the ongoing “conversation” among professional architects, designers and the design community.  In the Spring of 2009, Design Onscreen co-sponsored What Was Good Design? MoMA’s Message 1944-56, a fascinating exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).  Design Onscreen’s support enabled the conservation and display of two recently discovered historical 35 millimeter film clips of MoMA’s Good Design exhibitions from the early 1950’s.

Design Onscreen works in a collaborative manner with museums, schools, universities, professional design groups, film societies and other educational organizations. The Design Onscreen film Hella Jongerius: Contemporary Archetypes was launched in conjunction with European Design: Shaping the New Century, a major design exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The thirty-minute film explores the creative process of the Dutch designer and her relationship with manufacturers such as Vitra, Maharam and Royal Tichelaar.  In May 2009, the film screened at the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Art and Design in New York and went on to tour festivals and museums worldwide.  Both Jongerius and Director Amie Knox joined the New York screenings for conversations with curators and audience members.  Design Onscreen is grateful to the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam, for their generous grant in support of this film.

Design Onscreen supports only the highest quality programming utilizing the most creative minds in film production.   For Contemporary Days, our 2010 film on the influential UK designers Robin and Lucienne Day, Design Onscreen commissioned noted Scottish director Murray Grigor and Cinematographer Hamid Shams (the team responsible for 2008’s festival favorite, Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner).  We continue to build relationships with outstanding film makers, such as Sam Douglas, director of Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio, as we produce more films and present more festivals around the world.

DESIGN ONSCREEN FILMS

Contemporary Days: The Designs of Lucienne and Robin Day
(2010, Dir. Murray Grigor, 77 mins.)

Robin and Lucienne Day, one of England’s most glamorous couples, transformed British design after World War II.  Robin’s elegant furniture and her striking textiles signaled a new era of modernist designs for everyday living. His stacking polypropylene chair endures as an icon and today even graces a Royal Mail postage stamp. Lucienne’s abstract textile designs brought accessible elegance into the homes of postwar British consumers.  Screenings include: International Festival of Films on Art (Montreal), Victoria & Albert Museum at the London Design Festival, Glasgow Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, National Geographic Museum, Indaba Design Festival (Cape Town), Architecture & Design Film Festivals (New York, Chicago, Denver) Moscow Architecture Film Festival, Palm Springs Modernism Week Film Series.

 

Desert Utopia: Midcentury Architecture in Palm Springs
(2011, Dir. Jake Gorst, 58 mins.)

Desert Utopia traces the origins of midcentury architecture in Palm Springs.  Jake Gorst’s film brings alive landmark structures by Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, E. Stewart Williams, Donald Wexler, William Cody and William Krisel and features never-before-seen archival footage of the architects and construction.  Screenings include Modernism Week Film Series, Moscow Architecture Film Festival, Palm Springs Art Museum, Denver Architecture & Design Film Series.

 

William Krisel, Architect
(2010, Dir. Jake Gorst, 86 mins)

Over the course of his sixty-year career, architect William Krisel brought modernism to the masses, designing more than 40,000 individual housing units across the U.S.  “I’m a firm believer that good modern design can make your life happier, more productive and more enjoyable,” says Krisel. Recently honored with three 2011 Telly Awards, including the coveted Silver Telly for Editing and two Bronze Tellys for History/Biography and Use of Music. Screenings include: The Getty Research Institute Los Angeles, Newport Beach Film Festival, Moscow Architecture Film Festival, Modernism Week Film Series, Orange County Museum, Denver Architecture & Design Film Series, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (NY)..

 

Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler
(2009, Dir. Jake Gorst, 68 mins)

During the 1950s and 60s, Donald Wexler pioneered commercial and residential construction using steel. Wexler applied his groundbreaking techniques and unique style to hundreds of structures, including the Palm Springs Airport, the Contemporary Resort at Disneyworld and projects for clients such as Dinah Shore and Frank Sinatra. Today his work provides inspiration for a new generation of architects. Screenings include: Newport Beach Film Festival (Audience Award), Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam, Moscow Architecture Film Festival, Modernism Week Film Series, Palm Springs Art Museum, Orange County Museum, Denver Architecture & Design Film Series.

 

Hella Jongerius: Contemporary Archetypes
(2009, Dir. Amie Knox, 30 mins.)

Regarded as one of the most innovative and creative designers working today, Dutch designer Hella Jongerius explores new visions for design, craft, art and technology in her products for everyday life.  Shot on location in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Makkum, New York and Indianapolis, the film offers an intimate perspective on the designer’s creative process  as she navigates from past to present and across traditional expectations in design. Includes interviews with collaborators and curators at Vitra, Maharam, Royal Tichelaar, Moss and MoMA.  Screenings include: Museum of Modern Art (NY), Museum of Art and Design (NY), Dutch Design Week Festival, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (NY).