Posts filed under ‘Service Design’

Good Primers for new design approaches: some good reads in Design and Thinking (don’t underestimate that comma)

One of my friends who working for “Teach for All” asked me today about good readings for a quick immersion on Design. Why? Because design strategies seemed appealing for them as a form of “elicitation of creativity and participatory work among organizations. I didn’t want for him to be trapped in the “Brainstorming/ Post It” cloud, which is usually what consultancies offer. So here are some of the readings that I thought could be more helpful in clarifying the picture on design.

First a disclaimer. As Lucy Kimbell states (quoting Rylander 2009),  “it’s hard enough understanding design and thinking, let alone design thinking. So it is not a surprise that those who support its application to business or more broadly to public services or social problems, have trouble articulating what it is, whether all designers can do it…” The articulation of “Design Thinking” is messy, and yet, for me, OVERUSED! So please do refer to particular aspects of design when you are working within these matters. A bunch of the design thinkers can be categorized as “snake charmers” or “encantadores de serpientes” like we would say in Spanish. The same goes to the so-called “innovation” term.

JournalBeing consequent, I would begin reading Lucy Kimbell’s article “Rethinking Design Thinking published on the 3d Volume of the journal “Design and Culture”. In this article she puts forward a lot of the controversies that design practice and recent theory-building (mostly translated to the business world) brings. It highlights the strengths of design and its biggest problem. Also, it touches on the history that most people don’t know about. The preIDEO, pre-marketing buzz Design-Thinking term. Read this article in order to get a grasp of what real designers do, and what real design oriented researchers or thinkers have written about in the past. As a researcher and design-anthropologist, I value the critical thinking Kimbell poses and the way she draws a line between management and a more cognitive and culturally sensitive form of design thought configuration.

A component that has been critical to design, or at least on how we use design nowadays, is
Interaction Design”. As mentioned before in this blog, interactions “are said to frame the relationship between people and a variety of artifacts like products & systems, which convey the aspect of function, which has always been part of design [Dubberly, Pangaro & Haque, 2009] “.   Interaction design has migrated from what was software or Internet design to what is design in products, systems and even social systems. To learn about this I would recommend:

coverTo know about history I would get Moggridge’s (RIP) “Designing Interactions” (The MIT Press), which is an easy to read history compendium of interviews with designers related with this matters. Dan Saffer‘s (ex Adaptive Path)  “Designing for Interactionis an easy recipe-like paperback edition that will give you applicable knowledge on how to use interaction design techniques. So you can think on users and people in general in order to make better design solutions.
Lastly but not least, there is a powerful interaction design tool that is called “Personas”. This is a tool that is used more and more to create empathy between designers and the end-user of their creations. I’ve found that this is the tool that has more potential among organizations as it gives a democratic instrument for everyone to become more empathetic towards their human network. Inmates asylum bookThroughout the years, I’ve realized that students are taught about this method but not really told where it’s application come from (in the interaction design realm, in anthropology it would be different). To know about this I have suggested in this previous post to read about Cooper’s The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity” published in 1998 introduced the use of personas as a practical interaction design tool. Based on the single-chapter discussion in that book, personas rapidly gained popularity in the software industry due to their unusual power and effectiveness. “

Foto_Design-Systems thinkingThe last two books that I would suggest in reading have to do with two of the most (according to me) interesting developing areas for design nowadays: Service Design and Systems thinking. Both are connected. Systems thinking explains the way service design can be approached. Donella Meadows (RIP) a pioneering environmental scientist has a simple primer called Thinking in Systems”. In an affordable book, she introduces tools, concepts and ways of tackling problems through this lens. She uses stories and some basic graphs to illustrate her points and also touches on “leverage points” (like information flows, critical nodes, etc.), which are one of the basics for assessments of systems through design. Lastly, I would recommend that you readThis is Service Design Thinking: Basics. If you are not a design/engineer researcher or an anthropologist writing theory on design, this book should be enough. Service Design ThinkingIt is definitely a Primer. With a very cute and useful information design layout, the authors just put upfront basic concepts and useful canvases to work with service design tools. If you enjoyed Alexander Osterwalder‘s Business Model Generation book, you will enjoy this 23 international author’s textbook as it works with the same formula. An application-based visual thinking material that portrays cases that can be replicated or used as learning platforms.





December 26, 2012 at 1:29 am Leave a comment

Global Service Design Jam Oslo

Pic: Alex Asensi

Manuela Aguirre is an emergent designer, ex student [in Chile] and good friend finishing her Masters in System-Service Oriented Design in The School of Architecture and Design in Oslo [AHO], Norway. Manuela has been tightly working in “The Policy Lab” and experiencing the role of design at the systems level. She recently attended the “Global Service Jam” in Oslo. Here is what she tells us:

“On Friday 24th of February we got together in the Pop-up hub in Oslo (the first virtual co-working space: POPUP HUB OSLO . With some beers and pizza we met the Oslo participants at the second Global Service Jam.  At 7 o’clock we all gathered together towards the big screen to get the task from the central jam-office in Germany where they announced the global theme for this event: Hidden Treasures.

Check out the opening theme for this year:

From that minute (more…)

March 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment

Give and take, a service designed social economy

Pic: ccxtina on Flickr

Christina Worsing is more than a social activist. A designer by formation, which is how I happen to know her, Christina has pulled forward this amazing initiative that is called “Give and Take”. Willing to revert object’s planned obsolescence [just a bad design strategy], they provide the service connection to recirculate “pre-loved” resources by setting the stage for “Ethical Economies” to happen. Based on the idea of formalizing “cambalaches” [how this is called in Chile] or swaps… Her initiative has created a whole rethinking of the service deployment that a social re distributed economy like this would have. This service strategy has been defined using the design process in creating touch points, diagramming system’s flow and conducting front-end research to understand all the individuals involved.
Pic: ccxtina on Flickr

So what is Give and Take?
“Give-and-Take is a community-based project that develops services, activities and events to circulate pre-loved clothing throughout the local area. Along the way we share ideas and thoughts on how to re-use, repurpose and rethink (more…)

February 23, 2012 at 4:59 am Leave a comment

AIGA Design/Education conference: Yay! the content is up

The AIGA conference on education and design just ended. Hosted by NC State’s Graphic Design program, it became to be the start point for a serious redefinition of the Designer’s practice. Some of the speakers and participants included: John Thackara [Doors of Perception, Social Economies and Sustainability], Dori Tunstall [Swinburne University, Design Anthropologist], Rick Robinson [E-Lab, Sapient, Continuum– Collaboration], Sharon Poggenpohl [Ex IIT, Hong Kong Poytechnic, DEsign Integrations and a Design Research culture from scratch], Shelley Evenson [Ex Carnegie Mellon, now Microsoft Social – Service Design], David Small [MIT Media Lab, now Small Design Firm], (more…)

October 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm Leave a comment

Is design one of the ways to avoid “Dutch Disease” in Latin America?

Picture 01: ‘The Economist’ Sept 2010

In a special report about Latin America, due to a lot of the countries celebrating 200 years of independence [the so beloved BICENTENARIO] “The Economist” dedicates a whole issue to articles that refer to issues regarding political and economical background. Even though, as we’ve stated in previous posts, “you can’t put all Latin American Countries” in a bag, as Hans Rosling would point out; there are some issues that can be considered a general trend. Latin America is now enjoying good prices on their commodities. Could we suffer the “Dutch Disease” ? For some, the Dutch Disease, can be a well-known term. Yet it is not mentioned or taught in an ordinary design school. The ‘Dutch Disease, ‘a term coined by this newspaper in 1977 to describe the impact of a North Sea gas bonanza on the economy of the Netherlands. This malady involves commodity exports driving up the value of the currency, making other part of the economy less competitive, leading to current-account deficit and even greater dependence on commodities. This matters because all the more because mining and hydrocarbons are capital-intensive businesses, generating relatively few jobs’ [The Economist, “It’s only Natural”, 2010] The article indicates that commodities are not enough to make flourishing economies sustainable.

Picture 02: Service design project for SCL Airport@Procorp [C.Miranda, N.Cristi]

Even though the article puts upfront some policies taken by some countries like Chile [
Fundación Chile & Corfo] and Brazil which are bringing some manufacturing an other innovations in the goods exportation in order to diversify the use of the commodities; there is still a fear to this kind of scenario: commodities being a “curse”. They pose the question: ‘How do you go from copper to computers?“. Is that the question we should ask? How to get to be an industrialized country? Maybe the model that we [Latin Americans] should follow is that of being “Service leaders”. And not just in delivering the service of “Call Centers”, as the India Model shows [“The World is Flat”, (2005) Thomas L.Friedman]; but delivering other kind of service models that can fulfill the region’s needs [who knows better than natives about their own culture?], that meaning private and public services; and the Northern Hemisphere’s needs at better rates.

Service Design can be the next big thing for Latin America. IDEO and Adaptive Path are (more…)

September 15, 2010 at 3:38 pm 3 comments

contact + citing (CC license)

Constanza Miranda PhD(c) design.anthro
* Currently @ DILAB
* Ex.VR @ Stanford's Center for Design Research [DesignXLab]
* Ex.Instructor @ PUC Chile [Design+Engineering]
Use citations ¡Citar es ético!
Creative Commons License
Design for Social Innovation initiative by Constanza Miranda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at