IMG_3123I recently attended the ServDes2014 conference held at Lancaster University.

As a service design practitioner, it was interesting to be in a more academic space where the definition of service design was challenged and future of this discipline, forecasted. The conference spread across a period of 3 days (9th-11th April) and attracted researchers from universities all over the world as well as designers from prominent consultancy in the UK like Seren, STBY, Engine and Snook.

A couple of observations made.


1. Service design is a growing field– everyone be it academics or practitioners are trying to articulate its value and role. Some of the key insights about service design futures that it will be driven entirely by co-creation and co-production. Design thinkers will be facilitators who will have the tools and methods to tease out ideas and concepts from multidisciplinary groups of people with varied perspectives.

2. Second interesting observation was the definition of design and designer. There seem to be two distinct emerging defining. In the words of Ezio Manzini–  ‘We are designers. We are special. We are not only problem solvers we are also sense makers.’ This implies that designers are thinkers who make sense of the world around then, come up with ideas, solutions and drive innovation. These designers often consider themselves as curators of experiences or directors of making.

The second definition is designers who have the skill to make. These are the people who can not only visualize but also ‘create’.

I strongly believe that designers (referring to people who have had training in design), need to define what makes a designer and what type of designers exist. We need to define the processes, the necessary skills, craft a designer needs. This is crucial to help distinguish between a designer and a design curious.  More on this in my next post…

3.  Finally, it is important to democratise design thinking and design tools but, not design itself. Design is an evolving field, incoherent in its definition. In the future, I see design as a given- not a separate field/profession but an approach to practice in other disciplines like Business management or marketing. More thoughts on this in following posts…

Overall a very interesting conference with some great keynote speeches to Dominic Campbell (Futuregov) and Pelle Ehn (digital Bauhaus)

I leave you with a couple of interesting quotes from the conference.

‘Rearranging the objects of design- neither user centred nor object oriented. Design is shifting to an assembly line of people who come together when there is a problem to solve.’

 ‘Innovation often fails u to sticky knowledge.’ (Eric Von Hippel)

‘Anyone who sets out to turn and existing situaiton to a preferred one is a designer. A person who manages to turn them into a worse situation is also engaged in designing.’ (Dr. Sabine Junginger)

Have a lovely Easter weekend!



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