Thoughts on the movie Objectified

I watched the documentary Objectified last night and would recommend the first 30 or so minutes via Netflix streaming, if you have a Netflix account. If not, check out the Jonathan Ives portion on YouTube, which feels like an ad but still has content. The movie gets slower as it goes on and the real content is in the first half hour. Some other thoughts:

1) A lot of these designers (or the filmmakers) are really, disproportionately interested in chairs. As far as I can tell, outside of office chairs made by Herman Miller, Steelcase, Humanscale, and a couple of others, not much has really happened to chairs in the last couple decades. Most of the chairs shown in the film looked uncomfortable, especially the ones by the guys in Paris.

EDIT May 2012: Apparently I’m not the only one to have noticed the designer fascination with chairs: see also “Against Chairs.” Note that I’ve switched to a Herman Miller Embody, which I like less than the Aeron and may sell.

2) Speaking of the guys in Paris, they were really annoying. I’m not sure why.

3) The movie got slower as it went on.

4) Some comments made me think of Paul Graham’s essay Stuff, which begins: “I have too much stuff. Most people in America do.” I think he’s right. I don’t want more stuff. I want the right stuff. Too much of the movie focused on “more” rather than “right.” I don’t want to be a consumer.

5) Someone asked something very close to, “do you rule your stuff, or does your stuff rule you?” In the movie, it seemed like only designers were really capable of ruling their stuff. Graham: “once you’ve accumulated a certain amount of stuff, it starts to own you rather than the other way around.”

6) The bit about peelers at the very beginning was fascinating, especially because of the prototypes and CAD drawings.

7) The movie should have focused more on technology.

8) There was a guy who said he was depressed as a teenager, so he looked at his alarm clock, which made him feel better somehow and presumably acted like Paxil. I was depressed as a teenager too, which was alleviated somewhat by losing my virginity.

9) See number four again. I’ll quote Graham more: “the people whose job is to sell you stuff are really, really good at it.” Is this movie’s goal to sell me stuff, or make me want to buy, or to really explain the stuff in my life? The makers would no doubt argue the latter, but I think the former might be the actual outcome.

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