Chaired by Michel Bierut, the Documenting Design panel at the 2010 Design Indaba Conference saw filmmakers Gary Hustwit, Doug Pray and Eames Demetrios discuss their medium. Hustwit revealed that he makes the documentaries that he wants to see but haven’t been made. With his first two films, Helvetica and Objectified, he established a strong following of designers. Here he answers the SMS questions posed by the audience.
Why not Arial?
Arial doesn't have the history that Helvetica has. Helvetica was a standard-bearer for late Modernist graphic design, and structuring the film around it let me look at things like the discourse between Modernism and Post-Modernism, as well as the people, creativity and technological changes of the past 50 years. Plus, nobody actually likes Arial!
Consumer goods are critiqued by the consumer by buying it, architecture is mostly critiqued by agents in the form of professors. As an architect, I find the remoteness of agent critique less honest. What are your thoughts?
Architecture is bought and sold, and is loved or hated by normal people too. So I’d argue that “consumers” play just as big a role in the critique of architecture as professional critics do.
What did Gary Hustwit do before he made Helvetica?
Well: I worked with punk-rock bands and independent record labels in the 1980s; published books in the 1990s (which is how I initially got interested in graphic design); started a website in 1999 that merged with the online magazine Salon.com; started an independent DVD label called Plexifilm in 2001; and through that got involved helping filmmakers produce music documentaries like the Wilco film I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. Then I started making films myself.