Viewfinders: Thoughts on Visual Design Research

Raijmakers, Bas; Miller, Samantha; Gaver, William and Boucher, Andy. 2016. Viewfinders: Thoughts on Visual Design Research. STBY. ISBN 978-1-5262-0408-0 [Book]

Viewfinders_1-7.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike.

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

We believe there's a gap out there – one we can start to fill as design researchers.
Photography and film are particularly well-suited for design research, as they provide deep qualitative insight into an experience, serve as design inspiration and can be revisited and re-analysed for ongoing reflection. Although visual research methods have gained traction and recognition across the social sciences, there is still relatively little critical inquiry into how photography and film can be used specifically as a design research method.
In addition, investigations into visual research methods can tend to focus on visual analysis as opposed to how we can take photographs or make films as design researchers. However, more recently researchers have begun to ask important questions around the role visual material can play in various design disciplines, from photography in HCI to visualisations in service design. Similarly, discussions around documentary film theory and practice since its origin in the late 19th century can inform and influence design research methods.
Viewfinders is part of a self-initiated project by STBY, co-funded by Innovate UK and in collaboration with Goldsmiths' Interaction Research Studio, which began with an initial interest in investigating a method for visual design research.
We designed and deployed an 'auto-cam', a research tool combining a wearable camera with sensor technology. This publication builds on our investigation of visual design research, looking across film, photography and more experimental approaches in this space.
This publication doesn't pretend to have all the answers, but instead offers observations and reflections on our experiences, things we have tried and learned from in projects and experiments. We hope to grow the discourse around visual design research in an inspiring way for those working in the field, from peers to academics to industry teams who commission this kind of work. Photography and film hold rich potential for design research, deserving our attention, critical consideration and further exploration.

Item Type:


Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Design > Interaction Research Studio



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

08 Aug 2016 11:23

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:19


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)