On Tuesday April 11th 2017, a group of 17 Service Design students from Aalborg University cycled around Copenhagen to learn more about how Service Design is being practised by professionals around the city. The tour included visits to four different companies and was the 5th edition of the Service Design Tour initiative, and the second to be held in Copenhagen.
1. Danish Design Center
Just before 9 AM the group gathered outside of the Danish Design Center (DDC) and were met by Anne Danielsen and Christina Melander who gave us a warm welcome. Anne is the project leader of the development platform DesignSundhed, whereas Christina is in charge of the programme responsible for DDC’s efforts within design and business development. This programme is exploring the potentials of design methods for use in companies.
After a small presentation round, we continued on to do a quick exercise in exploring our views on what service design is. Each of us picked pictures that made us associate and project our understanding of service design. It was interesting to see not only the differences and similarities between students’ understanding, but also the differences and similarities between students and the professionals.
A tour around DDC’s office transformed into an introduction to the different platforms. This introduction was continued downstairs in a more formal presentation before Anne involved us in the design for health cases she is working with. One of these cases was an interesting example of using ‘bodystorming’ for the redesign of a maternity ward. In this workshop all the people that would be present at a childbirth were involved. From the doctor and nurses, to the mother, father and child.
The visit at DDC ended as it had begun, with a small exercise. This exercise took us into a specific case of sorting and handing out medicine at a ward. Based upon this case, Anne facilitated a quick ideation activity with the tour group that resulted in a number of solutions varying from ‘patient-used medicine vending machines’ and ‘machine controlled sorting of medicine’, to a wearable to allow able patients to pick up their own medicine.
2. Tackle Studio
Around lunch we had the opportunity to sit down with Sebastian Nause-Blueml and Yassin Askar from Tackle Studio. They started out with a small introduction about how they had gotten into service design and thereby met each other. Sebastian and Yassin talked about how they experienced coming from different backgrounds, and transitioning into service design. This was something the participants found interesting as many of them could relate. The mixture of small stories about their experience as designers in the field of service design in London and how much different the public sector’s view on design is in England made the conversation captivating. We especially found a discussion on design ethics of interest. This discussion was sparked by Yassin’s introduction to one of their cases. Questions exploring what kind of designs individuals are willing to take upon themselves and what not, led to related questions such as: “Would you deny a work offer because of ethics?”.
But also discussions on implementation in design was very active. Tackle talked about how they have tried to convince companies to continue the cooperation further than just the finished product, but continue the cooperation through the implementation. It was obvious from the discussion that the design field has a “chicken and egg”-problem, where companies do not want to invest the money before there are cases, and therefore there are no cases to rely on.
The visit was very interesting and one of those were the 1-hour appointment was not enough time to satisfy the questions of the participants.
3. IS IT A BIRD
Arriving at IS IT A BIRD, Katey Diamond and Søren Boesen were waiting for us, ready to show us around. The office is placed in an old transformed workshop garage that allows room for all the activities that take place at an innovation bureau.
Katey explained how that they used a small stage in the corner of the room to hold regular talks about what is interesting to the company. She revealed that employees do not have a fixed desk for their work normally, and because the tour group arrived during the Easter break, there were only a few employees at the office, which meant that those working were able to work at any desk they wanted. With a wink and a smile Katey told the group that if you have a favourite desktop, you needed to you come to work early and grab it before anyone else.
The tour around the office was followed by a presentation on one of the most recent cases they had been working on. It was obvious that their work was very much affected by the company’s large amount of employees with backgrounds in social science and anthropology.
The participants found their focus on the initial part of the process interesting. Questions also covered how it is working with and in a company where the majority is educated primarily in social science and not design.
FUTU is a full-service innovation bureau placed at Vesterbros Torv, the company consists at the moment of four full time employees and an intern. Inside Tanja Kjøng, designer and architect and Jonas Andersen, intern at FUTU were ready for us. They spend 30 minutes elaborating thoroughly on the two latest cases they had been working on. A touchpoint-heavy case of a common icon system for waste management, and their ‘plus programme’ project they had done in collaboration with Comwell and DDC. These cases allowed us to see an example of exploring each customer’s future business situations through the use of emerging technologies, such as virtual reality.
We had been introduced to the ‘plus programme’ early in the morning at DDC, so it was interesting to hear about the same programme from the perspective of an innovation bureau. FUTU gave us an insight into how it is working in a bureau, where people with backgrounds in architecture, business, design and tech work together.
The day was very exciting, filled with interesting people, case studies, issues and discussions. It was especially interesting to see how designers are working in very different positions and milieus that are both similar and clearly different. The theoretical discussions on design practice and design ethics was one of the highlights of the tour. This topic would certainly be interesting to pick up again at future tour event.
This edition of Service Design Tour was organised by Kasper Heiselberg and Drude Emilie Ehn, both Service Systems Design students at Aalborg University in Copenhagen. They would like to thank each of the companies that allowed the tour group to get a look ‘behind their website’, and for making the tour possible.
Service Design Tour is an initiative that exists to provide current and recent postgraduate students with opportunities to connect with design companies around Europe. The initiative aims to enhance the understanding of service design between the academic world and professional practices. Each tour offers opportunities for students to learn how service design exists and is applied in real-world situations, and offers companies an opportunity to increase their profile among the young professional service design community.