click to enlarge
Directed by Gary Hustwit
, documentarian Gary Hustwit's second feature, follows the formula laid out in Helvetica
, his first, almost to the letter. After a cute title sequence emphasizing the mechanical aspect of the topic at hand, Hustwit amasses interviews with designers in their element, usually a workspace or home. The visuals are very clean, each shot as expertly arranged as the next, with a catalogue-like simplicity that conveys a desire to connect with a general audience. The two films even sound alike: Button-down indie instrumentals fill the soundtrack in between (mostly European) talking heads. And both movies clock in around 80 minutes, Objectified
a few ticks under.
was an investigation of its titular typeface, Objectified
illuminates the philosophies of some of the world's foremost industrial designers. The film starts strongly with anecdotes about bows, arrows and vegetable peelers, but soon scraps the design-historical progression for something more free-associative. The chief challenge of the rest of the film involves decoding the vernacular. Early on, a German man proclaims that "good design is aesthetic design," a phrase that, at least to a design ignoramus like me, just seems tautological.
It is easier, however, to tell where some of Hustwit's other subjects are coming from. For instance, New York-based Karim Rashid — the most conspicuously dressed of the bunch, and the most polemical — tells of consoling himself during fits of teen angst by gazing upon his immaculate clock radio. Capping a late-film foray into issues of sustainability is another designer's confession that he dreams of launching an advertising campaign on behalf of stuff you already own - the objects in your closet that were made to last but have long since been put out of commission in favor of something newer (and likely less enduring). The biggest problem with Hustwit's resolutely uniform aesthetic is that the most ridiculous musings, not the most insightful, are the ones that stay with you. Nonetheless, Objectified
provides some stimulating, if rather repetitive, discussion on the significance of everyday objects and their ability to tell stories — about themselves and those who possess them.
Opens May 8