When cinema mirrors design practices

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When cinema mirrors design practices

When cinema mirrors design practices 970 545 Use Design

In the field of innovation we know how science fiction (in literature and cinema) has been and can still be a major source of inspiration for startup creators and founders. Design Fiction is even becoming a privileged practice when you want to project yourself on a vision, a faraway fantasy.

The Black Mirror series is a good example of this as its strength is to makes potential futurist tragical scenarios tangible. In contrast to this gloomy vision, I invite you to discover and participate in the Bright Mirror workshops designed by the Bluenove agency to co-imagine a bright future.

But before uncovering a future full of despair or perfection, couldn’t movies, series or documentaries provide us at the same time with the good or bad practices of creation and design methodologies and a glance at the past?

Well, yes 🙂 we have picked out some of them for you. They all have the merit of revealing a particular aspect, a particular point of view….

Movie – The Founder, or how to use quick prototyping

This movie narrates a part of McDonald’s history. It focuses on the relationship between the 2 creators, the brothers Richard “Dick” and Maurice “Mac” McDonald, and the founder, Raymond “Ray” Kroc, who is going to make it the successful business we are familiar with.

One of the most interesting feature of this movie is the prototyping work made by the 2 brothers to imagine their burger restaurants perfect operational process. Indeed, instead of designing a plan and imagining a process, they rent a tennis court to simulate in real life the organization of the different activities and the complete functioning of the kitchen.

It is thus the proof of a user-centered, iterative and co-creative design!

TV show – Mind Hunter, or personas characterisation

If the theme of serial killers does not frighten you and is of interest (“sic”), here is an excellent TV show based on 2 books, that will immerse you in the genesis of the FBI’s work on understanding of Serial Killers in the late 70s and early 80s at Quantico.

Surprisingly, in the series, several scenes can be linked to human/user centered design. If you want to stop this kind of murderers you have to:

  • go on the field, understand the past to better understand the future;
  • multiply interviews with the various detainees in order to find common features;
  • take roundabout paths, and make deviations, because each encounter is different and can lead to the sudden idea or understanding of new key concepts;
  • and finally, sorting the information, in the form of cards, in order to classify the different profiles of serial murderers. Or in other words, define Personas!

You are left to judge the main criterion of this human/user centered design method: show empathy 😉

Documentary Gutenberg, l’aventure de l’imprimerie (Gutenberg, the adventure of printing) or the first startup in history?

In this documentary, very beautifully made and rich with insights regarding the story behind the invention of printing. Gutenberg’s life (eventful and mysterious) is an opportunity to immerse the audience in the adventures… of a startup ! Indeed, every ingredient is there: the idea, the funders, the market, the technological innovations (many of them) and, of course, the design methods, including prototypes, the endless cycle of tests and iterations, the invention of font types…

In my opinion, the key lesson is that the Gutenberg’s startup is a complete commercial failure, even if his invention has eventually revolutionised the world. At the time, it brought him nothing.

TV Show – Silicon Valley, or how to design a product and make use of user tests

Have you always wanted to discover the hidden face of a Silicon Valley startup? Well, this series is for you! 😉 You will find many examples of perfect product/design approach, that you can follow (or not…). As a good example of “wrong practice”, I suggest this extract taking place during a group evaluation, where the founder desperately tries to convince his panel of users of the quality of his product.

(Thanks to Hughes Randriatsoa for sharing.)

Movie – Sully, or the accurate discussion about human factor

Few movies tell the story of a successful air crash rescue from the crew’s point of view. But it is the case here, with the crazy story of the US Airways flight 1549 that landed in (or rather on) the Hudson in New York City in January 2009.

In this 2016 movie, Clint Eastwood, via the excellent actor Tom Hanks, presents the investigation in detail and the doubts of the pilot and his co-pilot which lead them to their prosecution….

Before the final twist, the pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger played by Tom Hanks, manages to prove to all his accusers that they forgot to take into account a key factor in their crash simulation: the human factor!


Patrick Avril — CEO  @ Use Design, a design agency in Paris that brings innovative strategies, digital products and services to life.
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