Objectified (Director: Gary Hustwit): Gary Hustwit was always going to have a hard time following up Helvetica. The sheer novelty of a documentary examination of a typeface would be hard to top. Instead, Objectified simply takes the first film’s approach and broadens the viewfinder. Instead of looking at pieces of text, Hustwit aims his camera at the everyday objects around us. Who designs them, and what goes into the process?
As in the first film, the camerawork is fantastic, teasing out gorgeous details in objects we often take for granted. And the interviews are just as solid and cover a fair spectrum of design philosophies. It’s no longer a novelty, but the film is solid and enjoyable. And it hints at the larger issues that trouble the best designers. That is, do we really need more stuff? What good is a beautifully-designed object that just ends up in a landfill somewhere? I would have liked to dig even deeper into these issues but I do think Hustwit makes a real effort to address the runaway consumerism that is the underlying problem with design fetishism.
I have to draw particular attention to the exemplary job Hustwit does of building a community around his films. His use of the web to promote and sell his work is nothing short of amazing, and if he ever decides to stop making films himself, I think he has another career teaching filmmakers how to connect with their audiences.
That being said, I have no desire for him to stop making such beautiful and thought-provoking films. He’s promised to wrap up his design trilogy with his next film, though he’s given no hints yet about the film’s subject. But I can say with confidence that if you liked the first two, you’re sure to enjoy the next one.
Here is the Q&A with director Gary Hustwit from after the screening: