Synopsis by Mark Deming
The sad and sometimes darkly funny lives of various denizens of Chicago's social and economic underside provide the focus of this adventurous independent comedy-drama. Seamus (Davidson Cole) is a sad sack working as a security guard at a warehouse. Misfortune befalls Seamus as regularly as the sun rises, and while his relationship with his girlfriend Kate (Mary Kay Cook) might be expected to buffer some of life's hard edges, her eccentric sexual tastes often leave him disoriented rather than satisfied. Meanwhile, Peter (Daniel J. Travanti) is a former teacher who now works a dispiriting job as a door-to-door salesman. Despondent since his wife left him, Peter has turned to alcohol to drown his sorrows, drinking himself into a stupor every night, leaving his teenage daughter Sonya (Jennifer Morrison) to see that he eats, changes clothes, and goes to bed. And Nicholas (Edward Cunningham) is a professional photographer whose hobby is snapping humiliating shots of strangers when they're not aware, often caught through windows. Nicholas' pastime creeps out his girlfriend (Kipleigh Brown), and when he moves on to sexually abusing the bride at a wedding he's been hired to shoot for the sake of his private photos, he's soon on the run from her family, determined to get revenge. The first feature film from writer and director Davidson Cole (who also plays Seamus), Design was screened in competition at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.