On Wednesday night I went to see a screening and director Q&A for the new documentary about industrial design, Objectified. This is the second film from director (design junkie) Gary Hustwit. The first was an exploration of graphic design centered around the film’s namesake typeface, Helvetica.

The film interviewed several designers of yesterday and today while showing well placed and positioned images of the objects they design. In some cases they showed the process by which these products came to be. Jonathan Ive of Apple talked a biit about how designers can not effectively design and produce the final form without designing elements of the production process. One of the most important things that the film helps you realize is that everything has been designed. A lot of the designers also talked about the evolution of an object’s design as we use it. Particularly interesting was the idea of trying to design something that wears in and become better the more you use it. One critic from the New York Times suggested a marketing campaign to rediscover the things we already own.

While the designers talked about form vs. function, the film did not examine the intense focus on function that we assume engineers to use when designing. Another way to explore that would have been to discuss how the ‘creative’ design types interact with the engineers. I think they touched a bit on this in one portion that discussed office layout but it may point to something more important. That is, that design may be ever more connected to technical skills and today’s designers really need to be both technically proficient and creative. This is probably something that those in the field have known for a long time while the rest of us have been keeping the segregation of tasks alive in our heads.

I still haven’t seen Helvetica but I interested to catch it, especially since most of the stuff I do is graphic. If you have seen it let me know what you thought (take the bait, Katy) and if you see Objectified tell me what you think. Remember that almost everything has some design that goes into which makes each of us designers as well. Take on your tasks with a new sense of responsibility.

One thought on “Objectified

  1. Agreed — great documentary. It’s one of those that is really interesting as a viewer but really hard to explain to other people in a way that doesn’t make it sound awfully boring. And it also seemed a bit weird to me that the designers and engineers were different people — or I guess that they didn’t interact more. I could imagine that would be the most difficult part of the job (trying to explain your ideas between disciplines).


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