The documentary film work of Gary Hustwit includes such design cult titles as Helvetica and Objectified. I loved both films. Therefore, it is with great anticipation I have been waiting for the release of Gary’s latest film Urbanized. Funded in part by his supporters on Kickstarter back in March of 2011, Urbanized enjoyed its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in early September. The film premiered in Chicago last week, and I was taken by its visual beauty and heartfelt message. Design in our everyday, and our conscious and unconscious experience. Architecture and design are so much a part of our daily lives, we seldom stop to focus on the details which create our experiences. The power of design and the future of cities was beautifully and poignantly presented.

This introduction from the films website: “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.


The film is receiving great reviews. A few highlights follow with links to the full articles for your reading pleasure.

“Urbanized posits that city dwellers must not only forge an innovative self-reliance, they must imagine higher forms of living. The radical fluctuations of growth and decline happening in modern cities necessitate infinite innovation. Urbanized is an extraordinarily ambitious attempt to make sense of a world flowing into cities. This visually arresting film, like Hustwit’s past work, elegantly conveys the omnipresence of design in daily life. Essential viewing”.  Joshua K. Leon, Metropolis

“This is the third film in Mr. Hustwit’s trilogy of documentaries on the role of design in the modern world, and it can be thought of as the conceptual shell that contains the other two. The first, “Helvetica,” is about the shape of the printed word, and in particular the font named in the title. “Objectified” concerns itself with the shape and packaging of the things we buy, sell and carry. In both cases a phenomenon likely to be taken for granted is shown to have a complex back story, a set of often unexamined reasons for being the way it is. Urbanized is less focused on the history of cities than on the way they are adapting to the challenges of the present and future, notably climate change and population growth”.   A.O. Scott NY Times

Screenings of Urbanized continue in the U.S. and abroad. Take a look at the Urbanized film schedule, to find out if the film will be showing in your area.
To learn more about Urbanized, visit the films website here.


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Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. Released in 2007, on the anniversary of the typeface, it engages us in a conversation about the way type affects our lives. The film is an exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them. Through discussions with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type, the viewer gains a deeper understanding of the impact type choice has on our impression and interpretation of the written word. You can't talk about Helvetica without talking about the context; Modernism versus postmodernism, logical, rational, clear design versus the emotional and subjective.

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