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Objectified on PBS

Set yer DVRs! Starting tonight, watch Objectified (industrial design documentary) on Independent Lens on PBS.

Objectified at IFC Center

Objectified is playing at the IFC Center in NYC through May 21.


Some interesting moments from the Objectified screening last night.

- Rob Walker, who writes the Consumed column for the NY Times Magazine, was my favorite person in the movie. I particularly liked his idea for a million-dollar marketing campaign for the stuff we already own. Paraphrasing from memory: “You already own all these wonderful things. Enjoy them today.”

- The best comment during the Q&A after the film was from a man who said that the film made him feel physically sick. Not that the movie was bad but that it was powerful. The man was a product designer and the film raised a lot of issues for him with regard to the waste — both physical trash and human energy, if I was catching his drift correctly — produced during the course of making these billions of mass produced items, most of which end up in landfills in pretty short order. He seemed to be asking himself and the audience: how can we, as designers, in good conscience, keep doing this to ourselves?

- The film addressed that question a bit at the end as did the panelists during the Q&A. Dan Formosa of Smart Design, echoing Walker’s marketing idea, said that some designers in the future will shift from designing new products and start to design experiences for people to make better decisions about the objects they introduce into their lives or to better utilize the products they already have. The sales and support process at many many product companies are ripe for a designer’s guiding hand. It’s mind-boggling to me that companies spend billions and billions of dollars designing and building products and then leave the selling of those products to sales people who are largely untrained and unmotivated and the support to a call center in Bangalore. Zappos, Apple, Amazon, and similar companies have realized this with spectacular results.

- What didn’t work for me: 1) The IDEO stuff. They had 12 people brainstorming about how to build a better toothbrush that people won’t throw away and in addition to all of the time they’re spending talking about it, they went through dozens of Post-It notes, and had purchased what looked like hundreds of toothbrushes for research purposes that were likely to get thrown away as well. The whole thing seemed super wasteful (and maybe that was the point of showing it). 2) Karim Rashid. He said a lot of things that sounded good but when you look at his work, I don’t know that he actually believes any of it. 3) Marc Newson. What the hell was he on about?

If you’re interested, check out the trailer. You can also download the groovy song from the trailer and the film’s opening credits…it’s called I Like Van Halen Because My Sister Says They Are Cool by El Ten Eleven.

Objectified review

Allan Chochinov has an early review of Objectified, the film about industrial design from Gary Hustwit.

Hustwit has said that the key to interviewing people is “not to ever interview them,” and, like Errol Morris, he’s pretty damn good at (not) doing it. Nobody hangs themselves here, but they’re presumably given a ton of rope with which to construct bridges between disparate ideas, wrap up gifts, or tie Gordian knots.

(via design observer)

Trailer for Objectified

The trailer for Objectified, a new documentary film about industrial design by Gary Hustwit, who also made Helvetica.

Objectified, a film about industrial design

Objectified is an upcoming film about industrial design by Gary Hustwit, director of Helvetica.

Objectified is a documentary about industrial design; it’s about the manufactured objects we surround ourselves with, and the people who make them. On an average day, each of us uses hundreds of objects. (Don’t believe it? Start counting: alarm clock, light switch, faucet, shampoo bottle, toothbrush, razor…) Who makes all these things, and why do they look and feel the way they do? All of these objects are “designed,” but how can good design make them, and our lives, better?

The film is due out in early 2009. (via design observer)