Thinking about objects

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Have you ever seriously thought about the objects you surround yourself with daily? Do they just exist and you use them? Or do you think about them and why you own them? What meaning do you ascribe to the stuff you have?

I just finished watching Gary Hustwit’s documentary Objectified. If you haven’t seen it, you really should rent it, especially if you are interested in industrial design. It had been on my watch list for a while (the film came out in 2009), but as industrial design isn’t my area of focus, I hadn’t taken the time to watch it until this weekend.

For those of you who have watched Hustwit’s other great film, Helveticahe uses a similar format. He interviews designers on their thoughts about what objects mean, what design means in relation to those objects, and what the impact industrial design has on all of us. One thing I was really heartened by was the focus on sustainability and the fact that today’s industrial designers if they are good at what they do, will design products cradle to cradle not cradle to grave. In other words, whatever they design should be endlessly reused and recycled and not dumped in a landfill.

While Hustwit interviews a number of designers and design teams, the two that really stood out for me were the interviews with Dieter Rams and his principles on good design, and the segments with IDEO’s staff. Rams is legendary in the product design world, and for good reason. His products are innovative and unobtrusive. They also don’t feel like they are designed; they just are. IDEO’s interviews, whose human-centered design work is transforming numerous industries, was equally enlightening when applied to product design. The care they give to each challenge is amazing.  If you are interested in human-centered design, check out their non-profit wing’s field guide.

What objects have meaning to you?

-Kat Lehman