Design documentaries: Inspiring design research through documentary film

B. Raijmakers, W.W. Gaver, J. Bishay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


This paper shows how we can take inspiration and use techniques from documentary film in pursuing user research. Documentary filmmaking has a long history of portraying everyday life in ways that leave the erratic, elusive fabric of the everyday intact. This may be valuable as interaction design currently embraces issues of engagement, expression and aesthetics. We discuss key documentary formats, and suggest that a purely observational approach may not be most valuable for design research. Three design documentaries are discussed to show how different documentary approaches can be used in practice to inform the early stages of design. We suggest that, for design research in HCI, film can be much more than a note-taking tool; we can use it as a means to explore, understand and present the everyday, and benefit from film's capabilities to preserve ambiguities and paradoxes instead of resolving them into univocal conclusions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Conference on Designing Interactive Systems: Processes, Practices, Methods, and Techniques, DIS
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes

Research Group keywords

  • Interaction Research Studio


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