..to make films with people, not about people


Day 1. Inspiration from a 100 years of documentary film

We introduced three ideas in documentary thinking that are particular useful to design researchers. The idea that “Film is like reality” is important because it allows Design Documentaries to portray the people 
and situations you are designing for. “Film is like a language” makes us realise that we can use our design skills to tell stories and that we can use visual language to express the stories, and our views as design researchers on them. Finally, “Film is like a conversation” is an idea that reminds us that documentaries create a dialectic relationship between design researchers and participants.

Below some stills from films that illustrate these points. In the Reviews section of this blog you can read a bit more about most of these and other films that illustrate these ideas.

We also discussed 4 types of techniques documentary filmmakers use, to get a broad overview of what tools a design researcher can borrow from filmmakers. Besides the obvious Observation, we also looked at Intervention, Compilation and Performance. Below some examples from films we looked at. There is more in the Reviews section.

One Response to “Day 1. Inspiration from a 100 years of documentary film”

  1. Hello Mr. Raaijmakers
    My name is Russell Taylor. I am a Senior Lecturer in Design at Simon Fraser Univeristy’s School of Interactive Arts + Technology, in Vancouver, Canada.

    I came upon your site through design.nl and an article on Open Design. I have been working in the area of making Design Documentaries for some time now through a field school I am Director of in Italy that has been running each year since 2004. In 2010 we produced our first full length documentary called “Emotion in Design” which you can see at my Italiadesign website. We seem to be doing similar things, and perhaps most importantly, we are both doing it open source. This past summer we did the Field School in the Netherlands and have finished our website for that project as you can see in the dutchdesign.ca website. We have been conducting interviews with designers in Italy and now the Netherlands and have done around 100 since 2004. Last year we did 18 in the Netherlands and two in Copenhagen. We intend to take the footage and make two full-length documentary films this coming fall/ winter to be finished in February. It looks like we have a lot in common – I also work in technology design, but am coming at it from an arts/social science angle as well. I am interested in chatting.

    Met vriendelijke groet,