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Design & Influence: Vignelli and HER

February 27, 2014


No shortage of conversation occurs after experiencing a film like HER.  High waisted pants, well-worn mustaches, dependency on technology, the future of video games,  all make the conversational check list.  And while all are valid and worthy of discussion, the film’s design aesthetic is what really sets it apart.  It’s safe to say Spike Jonze is the consummate creator of art(y) films, and there were no punches pulled with HER.  The set, the wardrobe, his view of a future Los Angeles are all done so well, and perhaps more important, feel natural.

Jonze enlised the help of Geoff Mcfetridge to build a world that’s artificial, yet realistic.  With much of the landscape consisting of a blend between Shanghi and L.A., the Los Angeles creator took ques from designers past.  In addition to creating the drawings inside the offices of Theodore Twombly along with the computer interface and handheld device graphics, and the films credits, Mcfetridge was also responsible for the elaborate transit map that’s found in the back ground throughout several scenes.


The retro aesthetic was inspired by Massimo Vignelli’s 1970s New York Subway map.  Vignelli, originally from Italy, came to America and attracted attention for his work designing signage for the D.C. metro and New York subway, the latter eventually hiring him to design the system’s map.  Although Vignelli’s map met mixed (unfavorable) reviews from New Yorkers for its diagrammatic approach and lack of scale geography, it remains a favorite amongst graphic designers and modern lovers alike (it still draws significant bids on eBay and the like).  And like Vignelli, who worked on just about every type of design that exists, Mcfetridge’s modernist approach spans the life of the film, woven into its fabric.  But it’s a glimpse at L.A.’s future transit system where the most influence can be felt with its broad use of geometric shapes and vivid color.

So now that HER is soon to be available online, you’ll have one more detail to search out, one more box to check.  For a look at similar design work, visit Champion Studio.




Images via Champion Studio
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