The Two Worlds of Service DesignBy
#VDMDesign aka Vincenzo Di Maria is a service designer and co-founder of Common Ground. His work focuses on socially responsive design and innovation ranging from products to services and experiences. He trained as a designer at Central St. Martin’s College of Art Design in London, where he’ll be running the Service Design Summer Course the first two weeks of August this year.
Vincenzo will be my guest on next Thursday’s Business901 podcast. His remarks may seem ambivalent at different times in the podcast. However, after listening several times, they became remarkably clear and concise to me. For example, my question in the excerpt, he took to a higher level of thinking than what I originally intended. He inspired me to take a more holistic and less defining approach not only to Service Design, but to other challenges that I encounter. This was one of my most difficult times that I have ever had in choosing an excerpt to publish. There was so many outtakes that I could have used.
Joe: You talked about service design as being very fluid, but it’s not really a catch?all thing. We’re just not sitting there defining boundaries to it right now; we’re leaving it grow on its own. It’s like water, trying to seek its own level.
Vincenzo: I don’t see a serious danger in that. I see a series of creative methodologies to be shared across disciplines. Whether we’re calling it service design, which is a definition not set in stone. The definition itself is more fluid, why is it fluid? It’s fluid because it’s made of two worlds, which are fluid in their own rights.
What is design? And what is a service? If we ask people in the street, often, they don’t know how to answer. It’s very interesting to do this exercise because you may get completely different answers. People, or even clients sometimes, do not understand services. They’re invisible. They’re intangible, but that’s what we use most of the time, even if we don’t realize.
The time this morning I woke up, and I went and ate my breakfast and took out some money, and I did a phone call. I already used 50 services probably by then without realizing it. That’s the problem. The word service and the word design are fluid concepts still for the majority of people.
We can get quite technical and debating. I can have my own view of service design from a design point of view. I can talk to you from a business marketing perspective, and you can tell me that service design is completely something else. I think that’s fine. It just enriches the debate around it.
I don’t see any specific danger in transferring some of the learning from one field to another. As you say, the only danger is the boundaries may become a bit blurred, that may just raise confusion in trying to sell service design to clients. How do you get clients to buy into something that is not defined? Lots of people are doing it in Europe. Lots of people are starting in the States as well. I think there is a market, and soon as people start grasping the idea; service design adds value to the user experience, and that is what is valued most. That’s what they’re going to be investing in.