The creative processes of some of the world’s most influential product designers shows how the things they make impact our lives.

Film Signature Image
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
November 24, 2009
60 minutes

Gary Hustwit

Gary Hustwit has produced five feature documentaries, including I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, the award-winning film about the band Wilco; Moog, the documentary about electronic music pioneer Robert Moog; and Drive Well, Sleep Carefully, a tour film about the band Death Cab for Cutie. Helvetica was Hustwit’s directorial debut and the first of a Show more trifecta of design-oriented films, the second of which was Objectified. Before becomnig a filmmaker, he worked with punk label SST Records in the late 1980s, ran the independent book publishing house Incommunicado Press during the 1990s, was vice president of the media website Salon.com in 2000 and started the indie DVD label Plexifilm in 2001. Show less

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The Film

Look around you. Within five feet of you are dozens — if not hundreds — of manufactured products that you interact with every day. If you are at work, perhaps there is a laptop, a stapler, a No. 2 pencil, a paperclip, a mobile phone, a coffee mug, a pushpin, or an ergonomic chair. At home there may be a flat-screen TV, a pair of boots, a razor, or a kitchen utensil. All told, we each touch or otherwise interact with an average of 600 manufactured objects every day.

We rarely consider where the objects that populate our lives were made or who dreamed them up in the first place. Yet our relationship with the manmade objects around us is complex, sometimes conflicted and often profound.

Objectified, by filmmaker Gary Hustwit, is the second installment in his trilogy on design (his first was Helvetica). Objectified encourages us to stop and notice our surroundings and to think critically about creativity and consumption. Who makes all these objects, and why do they look and feel the way they do? How can good design make these things—and by extension our lives—better? What about the environment and the social and environmental costs associated with global manufacturing and planned obsolescence?

Featuring interviews with some of the world’s preeminent industrial and product designers, Objectified is an exploration of the process at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the designers who reexamine, reevaluate and reinvent our manufactured environment daily. It is about personal expression, identity, consumerism and sustainability. What can we learn about who we are and who we want to be from the objects with which we surround ourselves?