Designers should be Objectified

Objectified movie poster, image from

For the past days since starting this Extra Kanin blog, I was trying to write an article that will give our readers the basic definition of industrial design. Many people don’t even know what industrial design is and what the profession is for. We always come across friends and acquaintances back in college asking us what we do, and what makes us different from more popular courses like architecture, interior design and fine arts. From a point of view of an outsider, industrial design is an unknown degree with no solid future. However, for those who practice it, the profession is prestigious.

Just last night, I finished watching this 2009-released documentary about industrial design (much thanks to Nian Suministrado for referring this to me). The movie is entitled Objectified, directed by Gary Hustwit, the same man who created the Helvetica movie (next on my to-watch list). For the people who don’t have a clue, now you will get the chance to better understand the nature of our profession. Objectified is the 90-minute tour to the world of simplicity, common sense, modernism and creativity as ingredients for design.

Everything we see and touch from the moment we wake up until our eyes close to sleep have imprints of industrial design. The movie presents the typical products of imagination plus reason: your chair, your vacuum cleaner, your mobile phones, your favorite Mac products, computers, IKEA furniture, even the simple kitchen tools and many more. The toothbrush, and also because I think of it as one of the best examples of good design achievement, is not just created from the idea that it is used for brushing the teeth. A portion of the movie describes the design process of designing a toothbrush from ideation, gathering of personal experience (this is really important), to actual designing, prototyping and marketability, same with the principles we learned from college. It’s a very long and complex process to arrive on the final design, but from the movie we will see that the fun factor and passion are also essential to the product.

Also a feature of Objectified is the spotlight on famous designers that have become foundations of the evolution of industrial design through the years, including Dieter Raims and his 10 principles of good design (I kind of like these principles since the results always come down to a minimalist design); the revolutionary ideas of Karim Rashid; how industrial design plays a big role on Apple products explained by Jonathan Ive; David Kelley,  Bill Moggridge and a lot more of individual designers all over the world who have their own unique approach on design.

Good design is as little design as possible. - Dieter Rams

All in all, this film is a good one. You may or not maybe an industrial designer, but the philosophy and discipline in this field are important to anyone who is passionate about their profession. You may also come to realize the importance of the products that you can see in your house right now.

I already gave up telling people the details how industrial design works its ways. I always sum it up like, “Oh, we design cars and products and mobile phones and stuffs.” For an enthusiast, I may further expand the fields we cover, but for a typical conversation, a simple description will be enough. And now, after watching Objectified, I probably would just tell them to “watch it and be amazed.”

Here is the trailer (with a cool soundtrack by El Ten Eleven woohoo!) and some clips from the Objectified documentary film.


2 responses to “Designers should be Objectified

  1. Love on how you put “imagination + reason”. It would be an honor to be called an Industrial designer as for once as a student we always felt that we’re outcasts feeling unknown to the world around us even others telling us that there would be no future in it, little that they know that it is the most prestigious profession that I would have known. What makes it so prestigious is that it makes you feel on top of the world once your project that was once was an idea was then made in concepts and then made into reality by making prototypes and testing it and lastly by making your project available on the market. For a student, you would be crying out loud as to differ yourself as a “designer” from an artist but as soon as you practice this profession you’d realize that it’s more than design… It takes a lot of MARKETING STRAT and alot, alot, alot, alot of MANAGEMENT in it!. So far as I’ve known after graduating from the course, there are a lot of fields in which you could choose from and these are MARKETING to MANAGEMENT and of course DESIGN. Anyways this film is truly inspiring. I just hope that companies would invest in our field so that we could practice this in our own backyard. Just remember… “We get paid by our ideas”

    • Very well said Mark! I think all the students in our department were thinking “what the hell am i doing here in this course?” and would be able to find out through a lot of hardship and sleepless nights and of course lot of reasoning that industrial job is one hell of a profession. Yes, I am hoping for the public to give a attention to the benefit we industrial designers can give. It would make a great impact on our economy! We are fuel for progress too! :)

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