Let’s get Objectified

Greetings, and welcome to the site. Objectified is a documentary about industrial design; it’s about the manufactured objects we surround ourselves with, and the people who make them. On an average day, each of us uses hundreds of objects. (Don’t believe it? Start counting: alarm clock, light switch, faucet, shampoo bottle, toothbrush, razor…) Who makes all these things, and why do they look and feel the way they do? All of these objects are “designed,” but how can good design make them, and our lives, better?

One reason that I’m delving into the world of objects in this film is that I, admittedly, am obsessed by them. Why do I salivate over a shiny new piece of technology, or obsess over a 50-year-old plywood chair? What does all the stuff I accumulate say about me, and do I really need any of it in the first place?

Those of you who followed the making of my first film, Helvetica, know that the reason I make these films is not that I have a comprehensive knowledge of the subject matter. I wasn’t an expert on graphic design, and I’m certainly not an expert on industrial design. But they’re both fields that fascinate me, and that I want to learn more about. I’m interested in industrial designers because their work influences so many aspects of our world yet most of the time it’s taken for granted. And I think that, especially today, it’s crucial for us to re-examine how we make and use consumer products at every level.

And if you could get all of these designers and design experts together at a dinner party, what would they talk about? This film will hopefully represent that conversation. I’ve been lucky to be able to include an amazing group of participants in the film so far, and I sincerely thank them all for their time and knowledge.

The term objectified has two meanings. One is ‘to be treated with the status of a mere object.’ But the other is ‘something abstract expressed in a concrete form,’ as in the way a sculpture objectifies an artist’s thoughts. It’s the act of transforming creative thought into a tangible object, which is what designers in this film do every day. But maybe there’s a third meaning to this title, regarding the ways these objects are affecting us and our environment. Have we all become objectified?

The film will premiere in early 2009; in the meantime on this blog we’ll be discussing the issues covered in the film, posting still photos from the shoots, and video excerpts as we finish the movie. I hope it’ll be something you’ll enjoy watching.



  1. July 28th, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Michael C. Place says:

    Looking forward to seeing the finished film.
    Good luck Gary.

  2. July 28th, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Angela Cluer says:

    If it’s anything like Helvetica, can’t wait!
    Just curious about how you determined which industrial designers to showcase in your film.

  3. July 28th, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Rick Umali says:

    Glad to hear about this new project, and I look forward to it. I am also glad to see IDEO on the list of designers. I had the chance to hear Tom Kelley, a manager and author from IDEO, speak at a recent conference. He gave us ideas for how IDEO continues to be innovative.

  4. July 28th, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    nita orozco says:

    love it love it love it….

  5. July 28th, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Michael Geary says:

    Consider this a pre-order!!!

  6. July 28th, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Patrice says:

    Great site Gary. I really enjoyed Helvetica when I first saw the screening in San Francisco. Very much looking forward to this one.

  7. July 28th, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    mattyohe says:

    Sounds like a great project. Only wish Don Norman was on board.

  8. July 28th, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    DT says:

    Great to see this and am excited on its release. However I did noticed a serious lack of viewpoints from Asian designers. As it is now, I think this would biased the film towards the usual designer suspects from the west, the majority of which the world already know a lot about. They are the so called “design superstars”.

    Asian design will be a strong player in the next 5-10 years or less, and I would have liked to see a revolutionary film such as this, cover a truly global view of design.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would be interested in some recommendations or viewpoints of designers trying to make a difference in the East.


  9. July 29th, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Fei says:

    Brilliant!!! Great projects, so will the next film talk about Architecture or…? no worries, I’m just kidding :) I’ve already satisfied with these two subjects. I’m a graphic designer by the way…

  10. July 29th, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Benjamin A. Wendelboe says:

    I – as everyone else, it seems – loved Helvetica, and it’ll be tough to follow, but the synopsis for this one seems great.. Sooo hoping for another special edition DVD..

  11. July 29th, 2008 at 5:30 am

    Matt Marrocco says:


  12. July 29th, 2008 at 6:40 am

    rouss says:

    Sounds great! Being a fan of your previous work, can’t wait for this one.

    You certainly should ask Mr. Rams about his thoughst on Apple industrial design and how had he influenced on Jonathan Ive’s masterpieces.


  13. July 29th, 2008 at 6:55 am

    gary says:

    Thanks everyone!

    The quick answers:

    Mattyohe – Don Norman is awesome. I sort of have the same problem as I did in Helvetica though… way too many amazing people out there in ID to possibly fit into one film. We’ll see…

    DT – Ditto. Asian design and designers definitely factor into our discussion in the film. I think Naoto Fukasawa is doing some amazing work. And if we felt we had to showcase a designer from each country in the world with an active design scene/history, we’d only be able to spend a minute with each person. This isn’t that kind of film.

    rouss – I did. And he responded. And you’re going to have to wait for the film to come out to hear it!



  14. August 2nd, 2008 at 6:51 am

    Mike Rohde says:

    Gary, I loved Helvetica and am looking forward to Objectified as well. Keep up the great work!

  15. August 4th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    df says:

    I sincerely hope Richard Sapper makes an appearance in the film. He’s an ID legend.




  16. August 8th, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    JDM says:

    Hi Gary, congratulations on a wonderful idea for a film.

    I hope you are talking to ‘Robert Brunner’ former Director of Industrial Design at Apple and Partner at Pentagram.



  17. November 10th, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Walter says:

    i have seen helvetica so many times. great work! will this new film include swedish industrial design. they are well – known for it. Volvo, SAAB, Electrolux, ABB, Sony Ericsson….. TETRAPAK,,,,, so many.

    Best Regards,


  18. November 11th, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Walter says:

    i forgot to mention IKEA.



  19. January 6th, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    DM says:

    It may now be too late but it’d be really interesting to see some response to Deyan Sudjic’s ‘The Language of Things’. There he seems to suggest that we are all equally guilty in taking part in the madness of over-consumption. But he neglects to differentiate between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in this process: we are all equally culpable. He comes across with the zeal of the recent convert who has just seen the light but not all of us have bought into being so easily seduced by the newest shiniest gizmo. Not all of us can afford it. He yearns for objects that are beautiful, useful and lasting — a return, perhaps, to design before designer-this, designer-that — but neglects to cite his own role in promoting that growth through his many articles, founding and editorship of ‘Blueprint’ and directorship of the Design Museum in London. The cult of designer as star, and the concomitant worship of objects of dubious worth (Starck lemon squeezers; uncomfortable Arad chairs; disposable-after-a-year Ive iMacs…) owes not a little to the role of design gate-keepers like Sudjic and others.

  20. January 7th, 2009 at 1:07 am

    Matthew says:

    I can’t wait to see it. I caught the Helvetica screening in San Antonio, 2007. I hope you all visit Houston.

  21. January 7th, 2009 at 3:02 am

    RG says:

    Well done. I have been waiting for a documentary about ID for quite sometime. Just like you I share a fascination with objects that are well designed. Can’t wait for the finish product, Gary.


  22. January 23rd, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Fixit says:

    Fascinating movie – looking forward to it.

    I wonder if it will extend or deflate the common MYTH in the industrial design world that the engineering, technology and production behind the the idea and the form is of lesser importance… when its ALL part of design. Likewise the cult of the designer as superstar – like indulgent victorian ‘artistes’ ! Ignoring cost, ergonomic, practical and even aesthetic subtleties in order to indulge in making elitist sculpture, uncomfortable chairs, and stuff that never gets beyond ideas.

    It may be OK to show a few of these folk who are often great talking egomaniacs, as long as their real influence is shown to be hollow.

    I am SO pleased you have chosen to show mainly rounded designers, companies and commentators … and look forward to some great discussions.

  23. February 17th, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Gabriel Mathews says:

    This film needs NEEDS to be screened in Portland, OR–For my own selfish reasons…8)

    I can’t wait!

  24. February 17th, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Gabriel Mathews says:

    Adding to that, I will even volunteer to set up the venue! I know the perfect spot-the Gerding Theater in NW PDX!

  25. February 17th, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    john says:

    We’ll totally be there with 100 of our best friends!
    seriously, this is a design town with a booming creative economy – knome sane?

  26. February 19th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Bill says:

    They should show it here in PDX on earth day to promo sustainability n’at!

  27. February 21st, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Glenn Sakamoto says:

    I am so looking forward to this film. I too, am obsessed with beautifully designed objects and the transformative effect they have on our purchasing decisions. The designers you chose to profile are interesting, charismatic, and talented. Congratulations on another soon-to-be design film classic!

  28. March 6th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    judy says:

    plan on showing this film in israel – PLEASE – we have great minds here and are hoping to see the film come are way!!!

  29. April 2nd, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Billy says:

    I can’t wait to see mostly because I don’t have any experience with ID design. I am a print designer. See you in Chicago.

  30. April 21st, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    pommedede says:

    Why does SF get to see the movie before we do in LA? Hmmph! Looking forward to it tho.

  31. April 26th, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Birgit Jevnaker says:

    Great! Share your interests in ID in our daily lives. When does the film come to Scandinavia?

  32. April 28th, 2009 at 10:51 am

    darren says:

    Gary, I love Helvetica and certainly look forward to Objectified. The thing is – will it screen in Australia soon? I’ll keep lobbying til it happens!

  33. May 7th, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Mauricio says:

    Gary, I just hope that your film comes to sydney, or what can I do to have a preview here, thank you and it looks amazing.

  34. May 7th, 2009 at 5:57 am

    Mike says:

    Helvetica was great. Objectified seems to be as good or better. Are there any plans to show the film in Alberta, Canada?

  35. June 13th, 2009 at 1:35 am

    Joe says:

    Gary, I saw Helvetica in Philadelphia when you were screening here, and I’m kicking myself for not staying on top of things enough to find out about Objectified. You seem to be interested in the things I love to read about, and you’re definitely a filmmaker I’m going to be watching for life.

    Two questions: 1) Did you ever try and get in touch with Donald Norman? He’s the undisputed expert on designing things to match human usability expectations. Not necessarily aesthetics, but expectations.

    2) Can I bribe you for a DVD or a ticket to a screening, already?!? I can’t wait to see this film.

  36. November 24th, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    James Todd says:

    I’ve been watching Helvetica and Objectified every other day for the last 2 weeks and am just not getting bored! To hear from the likes of Dieter Rams and co is such a pleasure and privilege!

    I am a tech ed teacher in Scotland so your films are right up my street, so much so I can’t wait to see your third film in the trilogy. Can you tell us what it will be about?

  37. November 27th, 2010 at 2:47 am

    J says:

    I’d only heard raving reviews about Helvetica (had no idea you were behind both projects) but got a chance to see Objectified and it’s fabulous. As both an industrial design enthusiast and a consumer trying to be as environmentally conscious as possible, I am a huge fan of the documentary’s content and its treatment of it. Very slick and holds together well – like a smart product! Bravo

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