Join Gary Hustwit for an in-depth discussion in this video Tim Brown, part of Objectified.
- I think if you ask almost any product designer, you know, what was the most important toy of their childhood it's going to be Lego, at least it was for me. I mean I was building stuff with Lego. I remember when I was very little we had big power cuts in England, and I remember I built all sorts of lanterns and torches out of my Lego for my mother so she could cook our dinner while we didn't have any power. So I was kind of designing products I suppose, that was probably, I was less certainly younger than 10 at that point, and built kind of airplanes and all those sorts of things. I just, yeah, I spent my whole childhood building stuff.
I think we adore objects because they somehow become part of us and our behavior. And they become part of our behavior both at a sort of functional level and they do a job we enjoy getting done, or they do something we enjoy doing. But also at an emotional level, they do it in a way that somehow sits with us, and suits us, and we feel good about. And so, you know, for some people those objects therefore are very unique. You know, you'll see somebody, some people that fallen in love with objects, they're completely one off.
They're craft objects or they're objects that only they would see beauty in, and that might be because of the way they behave and the way they think. Others have fallen in love with things that are mass produced and yet can somehow relate to those individually and personally. And again, I think it's because these objects become part of our behavior. They become part of the way we are and the way that we think. I believe that that's a basic human trait.
Industry companies need to distinguish themselves and differentiate themselves and attract our attention in order for us to go and buy the things that they make. In order to do that, they have to serve our needs in the best way that we can which ultimately is good for us, but it also means that businesses are looking pretty hard to try and figure out what our needs might be. And sometimes they do a good job of that, and sometimes they don't do such a good job of it. Sometimes they literally do kind of manufacture some kind of myth about what our needs are and kind of sell it to us through advertising, and other times they really get under the surface of us and our society and provide things that we had no idea that we needed, but when we once lay our eye we couldn't help ourselves but want them.
You know, the cell phone's a great example of that. I mean nobody knew what needs the cell phone was ultimately going to satisfy, but once it appeared, you know, we just wanted it more, and more, and more, and more. And, you know, you go to every country in the world today and cell phones are playing, you know, a really important role. So this is a product which actually I think was probably the one that when I first saw it as a design student, made me realize what great industrial design was all about.
It's the Valentine typewriter by Ettore Sottsass designed back in the 1960s. And he took a very mundane ordinary object and thought about, well, what should it be like if it's not about business anymore, it's not about the typing pool. But it's about, you know, maybe it's a reporter out in the field, or just maybe it's an ordinary person who needs to type some stuff and wants to have a product around their home. And with this incredibly simple and elegant design and this absolutely outrageous color, you know, he took a product that's still serious, works very well, but made it human, you know, in a completely surprising way.
And, you know, it's got a lovely case that goes around it so you can carry it around easily. And I still think this would be a great piece of product design if we were still using typewriters today which, of course, we're not. It would still be and is a great piece of product design and I keep it in my office just as a reminder again that somehow great design can be pretty simple and it doesn't have to always be a really complicated idea.
Objectified is a documentary about industrial design; it's about the manufactured objects we surround ourselves with, and the people who make them. Gary Hustwit, the director of Helvetica, talks with Dieter Rams, Marc Newson, Jonathan Ive, and other renowned designers behind some of the world's most iconic products. lynda.com is proud to offer this film to our members, along with over one hour of online-exclusive bonus movies.