Screening this week, to a sold-out crowd, at the Seattle International Film Festival was Objectified – a documentary by Gary Huswit about design, specifically industrial design. Industrial design is the design of products that can mass produced. It is everywhere. It shapes each of our lives. It is the coffeemaker we use, the chairs we sit in, the cars we drive, the electronics that we depend on. Literally everything we touch and use on a daily basis, has been designed by someone. Do you ever think about that? Things as simple as a knife and fork had to be designed. Without design they would not exist.
This film features many of the super-stars of the industrial design world…Deiter Rams, Director of Design for Braun, arguably the grandfather of modern design in the appliances we use every day; Johnny Ive, designer for Apple, enough said; creatives from Ideo and Smart Design, the folks that bring you the OXO products; to name a few. We are given a sneak peak into the processes that result in these seemingly mundane items.
At its core, design is problem-solving, frequently stemming from some frustration we experience in an object not working well or a need not yet filled. Product designers throw out all of the rule books and start new. What should the product do? What should it feel like? How should it perform? Once those questions have been answered, then…what should it look like? Function drives form, but form is equally important.
Today’s designers are also addressing the issues os sustainability in a very real way. We can’t continue to create products that become obselete in a matter of months without considering how those products will be manufactured and disposed of. Will your next cell phone be made from biodegradable materials? Will we each have manufacturing capabilities on our desktops?
Objectified does not pretend to be a comprehensive film about design or the history of design. It does do a really solid job of illustrating how design impacts and shapes ALL of our lives and poses many questions about the role of design in our future. It is inspiring and thought provoking. If you are even remotely interested in design and innovation Objectified is 90 minutes well spent.
Objectified is currently doing the film festival curcuit and will be available on DVD sometime this month. Another good film, directed by Gary Hustwit is Helvetica, about fonts and graphic design currently available on DVD.