Breaking the wall in design research

Breaking the wall in Design Research

Film directors use a term to describe zooming out from the scene to deliberately demystify the production process.

This reveals backstage activity usually out of the frame, like the edges of the studio set, sound crew, equipment etc..

They call this ‘breaking the wall’.

Thanks to an ambitious client, and a two minute edit from a mountain of footage, I feel like I can do something similar, at least trying to answer some design research FAQs I’m often asked. In particular the approaches and practicalities of fieldwork.

The founder of a luggage brand and I set out to capture two stories in one:

  1. The psychology of packing light. How and why minimalist travellers packed their bags for a real trip.
  2. The field research process itself. How we went about it.

We had a film-maker in tow — with multiple cameras and a unique eye–briefed to capture the entire project, generating compelling content to motivate their team, and demonstrate their commitment to understanding customer needs.

As I hope the clip shows, the real mysteries to be uncovered lie not in the ‘back stage’ of fieldwork, but in the people we were trying to understand.

3 thoughts on “Breaking the wall in Design Research

  1. Pedro Quadros

    Hello, Nick! This is a really good video that brings the vibe of your job as a researcher. I love it.
    What do you think about use filmmaking as a method to combine with ethnographic research, ux research?

  2. Nick Post author

    Hiya Pedro, sorry for the delay, but some days all I think about is video and ethnographic research methods. In my mind this is a natural and powerful approach. … so long as it’s appropriate to film in the context.


    hello Nick! Thank you so much answering my question.
    I have another one =)
    Can you tell when film should be appropriate to context of a research project? and when is not appropriate?

    Thank you so much, once again….

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