Co-founder Alex Groves believes that his London-based studio's movies, which have been lauded at Cannes film festival and picked up by National Geographic, are part of a wider trend for designers creating professional-standard documentaries as part of their work.
"Increasingly companies are working with designers for PR rather than to make a mass-produced product, so they're looking to designers to be 'designers of mass communication' rather than 'designers of mass production'," he told Dezeen. "Dezeen ran a story recently about Ikea saying there's too much stuff... but films are free of that baggage."
From established names like the Bouroullec brothers to students and recent graduates, a swathe of designers are all using movies to better explain and promote their ideas and products.
"There's a lot more design film than ever before," said Groves. "It's a really exciting area of design at the moment."
Related story: Studio Swine extends collection of products made from hair
He believes that improvements in digital SLR cameras are partly behind the increase in design films. Designers can create high-quality films themselves with very little money, he said, and are being acknowledged with prestigious awards over big creative agencies with giant budgets.
Groves also credits web platforms like Youtube and Vimeo for helping these movies to be seen and shared by a much wider audience. Studio Swine's films have hundreds of thousands of views on its channels.
"There's this whole world that's opened up to designers, and the way that design film can be used, to really engage with people and make something that spreads virally," said Groves.
The studio creates movies to accompany many of its design projects, working with filmmakers to produce short documentaries that explore the sourcing of unusual materials and experiments with manufacturing techniques. Most of its films have been shot on Canon 5D and 7D cameras, and edited using Final Cut and Cut&Run software.
Groves set up Studio Swine in 2011 with Azusa Murakami after they both graduated from London's Royal College of Art.
During their studies, the duo and designer Kieran Jones created a film documenting their Sea Chair project, which involved harvested plastic from the seas with a retired fishing trawler and transforming the waste into chairs onboard.
Made with filmmaker Juriaan Booij, who now collaborates with Hollywood director Ridley Scott, the Sea Chair film went on to win Second Prize in the European Short Film Category, Young Director Award 2014 in Cannes.
Studio Swine's Hair Highway project resulted in a short documentary about the hair markets in China, which was picked up by National Geographic and Huffington Post, and a collection of accessories and homeware made using the products sourced on the trip.
As one of three designers or studios to be awarded the 2015 Designers of the Future award by Swarovski, Groves and Murakami produced a sci-fi video called Terraforming, influenced by director Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Read the transcript from our interview with Studio Swine's Alex Groves below:
Dan Howarth: How do you use film as a studio?
Alex Groves: We've always designed both the film and the objects from the beginning. So really what we do is we create a world that the film portrays, and then we can manifest some of that in to real objects. The two are always created symbiotically right from the beginning.
I think it's quite a unique approach for a design studio. In a lot of design films that you see, the film is made right at the end of the process, after the project has been completed, to document it. Ours have a different relationship I think.