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The Design Trilogy is the collective name of a series of three documentary films about design directed by film director Gary Hustwit .
The films are:
2007: Helvetica , on the famous typeface of the same name
2009: Objectified , on industrial design
2011: Urbanized , on architecture and urban design
Helvetica is a feature-length documentary about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives.
Helvetica is a cinematic exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type. Helvetica encompasses the worlds of design, advertising, psychology, and communication, and invites us to take a second look at the thousands of words we see every day.
Interviewees in Helvetica include some of the most illustrious and innovative names in the design world, including Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter, Massimo Vignelli, Wim Crouwel, Hermann Zapf, Neville Brody, Stefan Sagmeister, Michael Bierut, David Carson, Paula Scher, Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones, Experimental Jetset, Michael C. Place, Norm, Alfred Hoffmann, Mike Parker, Bruno Steinert, Otmar Hoefer, Leslie Savan, Rick Poynor, and Lars Müller.
The real achievement of the film is the way it sharpens your eye in general and makes connections between form and content, and between art and life.
– Chicago Tribune
Helvetica had its World Premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March 2007. The film subsequently toured film festivals, special events, and art house cinemas worldwide, playing in over 300 cities in 40 countries. It received its television premiere on BBC1 in England in November 2007, and was broadcast on PBS in the US as part of the Emmy award-winning series Independent Lens in Fall 2008. It was subsequently broadcast on networks in 15 other countries. Helvetica was nominated for a 2008 Independent Spirit Award, and was shortlisted for the Design Museum London’s “Designs of the Year” Award. An excerpt of the film was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
About the Typeface
Helvetica was developed by Max Miedinger with Edüard Hoffmann in 1957 for the Haas Type Foundry in Münchenstein, Switzerland. In the late 1950s, the European design world saw a revival of older sans-serif typefaces such as the German face Akzidenz Grotesk. Haas’ director Hoffmann commissioned Miedinger, a former employee and freelance designer, to draw an updated sans-serif typeface to add to their line. The result was called Neue Haas Grotesk, but its name was later changed to Helvetica, derived from Helvetia, the Latin name for Switzerland, when Haas’ German parent companies Stempel and Linotype began marketing the font internationally in 1961.
Introduced amidst a wave of popularity of Swiss design, and fueled by advertising agencies selling this new design style to their clients, Helvetica quickly appeared in corporate logos, signage for transportation systems, fine art prints, and myriad other uses worldwide. Inclusion of the font in home computer systems such as the Apple Macintosh in 1984 only further cemented its ubiquity.
Objectified is a feature-length documentary about our complex relationship with manufactured objects and, by extension, the people who design them. What can we learn about who we are, and who we want to be, from the objects with which we surround ourselves?
Through vérité footage and in-depth conversations, Objectified documents the creative processes of some of the world’s most influential product designers, and looks at how the things they make impact our lives. It’s a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the designers who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It’s about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability.
On an average day, each human 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?
Objectified had its world premiere at the SxSW Film Festival in March 2009, and screened in hundreds of cities afterwards. The film had its television broadcast debut on PBS's Independent Lens, and was also broadcast in the UK, Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, Latin America, and other territories.
You’ll never look at your next toothbrush (or your next any product) in quite the same way after watching this astute, elegant inquiry into the purpose and process of industrial design.
– Entertainment Weekly
Urbanized is a feature-length documentary about the design of cities, which looks at the issues and strategies behind urban design and features some of the world’s foremost architects, planners, policymakers, builders, and thinkers
Over half the world’s population now lives in an urban area, and 75% will call a city home by 2050. But while some cities are experiencing explosive growth, others are shrinking. The challenges of balancing housing, mobility, public space, civic engagement, economic development, and environmental policy are fast becoming universal concerns. Yet much of the dialogue on these issues is disconnected from the public domain.
Who is allowed to shape our cities, and how do they do it? Unlike many other fields of design, cities aren’t created by any one specialist or expert. There are many contributors to urban change, including ordinary citizens who can have a great impact improving the cities in which they live. By exploring a diverse range of urban design projects around the world, Urbanized frames a global discussion on the future of cities.
Urbanized is a brave and timely movie that manages to strike almost exactly the right tone. The more people who see this movie the better.
– The Guardian
Urbanized had its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2011. The film subsequently toured film festivals, special events, and art house cinemas worldwide, playing in over 100 cities in 20 countries. It was broadcast by VPRO, HBO Latin America, DR, and other international networks.