I recently saw the UK screening of Objectified at Curzon Chelsea cinema and really, really enjoyed it. Objectified is a documentary film by Gary Hustwit about product designers and their obsessions with the conception of the objects we interact with on a daily basis. Hustwit’s previous work was the succesful Helvetica film that explored the world of the typeface and their creators.
The Objectified film does not necessarily offer a critical in-depth comparison between different perspectives of how to apply design thinking in industry but what I did enjoy was its sensitive approach to unraveling some aspects of the various design practitioners personalities (I particular loved the juxtaposition between Dieter Rams and his Bonsai pruning and Karim Rashid and his white nail varnish)
Yet it does explore and discuss the detrimental impact the designers contributing role has on the eventual impact of littering the earth with stuff, from over production and the constant built in obsolescence mentality of striving to design and develop new and “better” products. Rob Walker an amazingly critical journalist from New York Times for the “Consumed” column gives a very insightful perspective on consumption and it’s impacts on the world. He is a great wordsmith and examines “those who buy things”‘s behaviour from a hybrid business-and-anthropology standpoint. Its definitely worth checking out his greatly titled blog Murketing.com
If you want to go see this film ( i highly recommend it) then there will be some screenings at the Barbican towards the end of May.
From Alex Soojung-Kim Pang recent blogessay “thoughts on design + futures”, he discusses the importance of design in discussing futures, this validates exactly how i see design is a tool to debate, discuss, create and influence what happens next through very visually inspiring and disturbing means. Design has always been about planning the next step and making it tangible and design research is constantly evolving in response to exploring ways we understand, visualise, prepare and react to possible, plausible and probable futures. Depending on the design tools that have been learnt (eg. MA Design Interactions, RCA), a designer can create parallel scenarios/worlds/futures/mental models and depending on how empathetic they are to imagining peoples actions/reactions they can then imagine the implications of new services, systems, products and platforms within these future worlds. Depending on the design approach, it is fundamental to how we make decisions as a collective or help facilitate decision making to provoke the darkest and the lightest of approaches to our futures.
“To create a futures appropriate for the 21st century and its challenges, we futurists don’t have to become designers, any more than we have to be printers or graphic artists today. But we do need to learn some of the tools of design, learn from designers how to study people’s interactions with technologies, and pay attention to how people create mental models and imaginary worlds through things. In exchange, we can contribute to the design of things that make the world and the future more comprehensible, and better.” Alex Soojung-Kim Pang