In 2007, Gary Hustwit directed Helvetica, a small budget, feature-length documentary about the 50-year old typeface. A niche film with an undeniably nerdy topic, Helvetica soon became a global phenomenon. One of the film’s greatest achievements was the way in which it managed to convey both Helvetica’s extraordinary designer status and its truly impressive universal success as possibly the most ubiquitous and generic typeface in common use.
Now Hustwit is at work on stuff. Moving from graphics to objects, his next project, due to premiere in Spring of 2009, is aptly called Objectified. Here’s how the Objectified website describes the project:
Objectified is a feature-length independent documentary about industrial design. It’s a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the people who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It’s about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability. It’s about our relationship to mass-produced objects and, by extension, the people who design them.
And here’s the trailer:
Objectified looks set to become another runaway success with the design crowd, but the trailer really makes me wonder whether it will manage to provide us with any interesting views on our everyday relationship with things – with generic things. The beauty of Helvetica was that through the passionate and obsessive following of one font, the film took us deep into what most of us experience daily as no-design-land, the land of cinema tickets, road signs, TV news – just life, no designer tag. Objectified seems more concerned with designers and their creative process, a hardly innovative approach to the world of objects that yields little real insight into the average human relationship with manufactured goods, but lots of talk about ‘good design’ and ‘user needs’. But I might be mistaken. I really hope I am. I guess I just didn’t like the trailer. That’s funny, because I thought I did.