Still from the film "Under The Skin Of Design."

How one film festival inspires people to create good design

What began as a small event in Vermont’s Mad River Valley has since grown into an annual event for the architecture and design community in New York and other cities around the world, attracting thousands of recurring fans and industry leaders such as Bjarke Ingels, Jeanne Gang and Charles Renfro. Founded by Kyle Bergman, AIA, the Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) is now the nation’s largest film festival devoted to the creative spirit that drives architecture and design.

Opening night of ADFF 2015.

Opening night of ADFF 2015.

“The goal is to pick films engaging to the professional, at a design level,” says Bergman. “But also engaging enough stories to have anyone interested in design enjoy the films.”

The films address a wide range of topics that confront and inspire architects every day, from what makes good design and the search for meaning in what we do to untangling urban issues and the complexities of preservation and approval. While also offering rare glimpses and intimate portrayals of seminal figures, undiscovered talent as well as trends in the fields of architecture, design and urbanism are brought to light.

Still from the film "Concrete Love: The Böhm Family."

Still from the film “Concrete Love: The Böhm Family.”

“The more the general public understands, the more they’ll push [architects] to do better and better work,” says Bergman. “If you look at countries with great design, Denmark, Netherlands, places where general public is at a high level of design. That encourages and makes for better design and architecture. The festival is hoping to fill some of that void.”

This year, ADFF will take place in New York City from September 28 – October 2 at Cinepolis Chelsea. In addition to a curated selection of 30+ feature-length and short films, ADFF will offer panel discussions, director Q&As, virtual reality experiences, pop-up bookstores and parties.


“More and more festivals, like ours, are popping up all over the world, not just in America, but other places,” says Bergman. “Smaller versions and larger versions. Part of the goal [of the festival] has been to bring a diverse audience. I want to expand the conversation.”

The winners of the second annual I Look Up Film Challenge will be announced at this year’s festival on September 29. The competition’s theme, architecture as a solution, asks architects and filmmakers to team-up to produce short documentaries about the impact of architecture. The winning films will also be screened at the festival.