Hustwit’s Objectified Also Fetishizes


Whether you’ve pulled this week’s Voice out of a kiosk or you’re reading this online in your (hopefully) ergonomic computer chair, chances are that you take the objects you interact with daily for granted. Gary Hustwit name-checks his stylish 2007 typography doc Helvetica in this second film of a proposed nerd-porn trilogy, a slickly entertaining and thorough enough curiosity about the form, function, context, inspiration, and evolution of industrial design. Broader in scope than Helvetica but shot as if it were a sequel, Objectified asks an elite global posse of talking heads (creatives, journalists, and big dogs from Apple, BMW, and IDEO) to pontificate on their sundry beliefs, and presents condensed portraits of the brainstorming, manufacturing, sale, and use of various household items. You probably won’t ever look at a toothpick the same way, which is Hustwit’s goal, just as it was when the topic was our culture’s most prominent font, and he’s smart to bring up how designers these days must think about sustainability. Still, as a story of human progress, he might have spent a little more time thinking about how our species will overcome rampant consumerism and a little less time fetishizing materialism. Despite its lip service to eco this and landfill-reduce that, Hustwit’s film likes its stuff.