Review: “Modernism, Inc.” takes a tender look at the legacy of Eliot Noyes

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      The Georgia Straight is a proud media sponsor of ADFF Vancouver 2023.

      Why should we care about Eliot Noyes?

      It’s the opening question of Modernism, Inc., which has its Vancouver premiere at the Architecture and Design Film Festival. 

      Directed by Jason Cohn, with interspersed narration by Sebastian Roche, the documentary takes a look at the lasting impacts that the late architect Noyes had on the development of contemporary American design.

      Taking inspiration from Noyes’ motto, “good design is good business,” the film starts with his early career and interest in industrial design, when he helped introduce the idea of buying pieces like furniture to represent our tastes (instead of just inheriting them from our parents). It then follows through to his incredible (and in many ways game-changing) tenure at IBM.

      Noyes held the belief that design was not an afterthought, but rather something that needed to be infused into every aspect of a company’s thought process. The result helped IBM become the technical design juggernaut of the early personal computing era—and paved the way for companies like Apple to design products for the 21st century.

      Interviews with those who worked with him, as well as those in his family who knew him intimately, paint the picture of a man who was truly ahead of his time.

      Modernism, Inc. plays at the VIFF Centre as part of the Architecture and Design Film Festival on November 12 at 12:30pm.