Nordic Service Design Conference – pictures and comments

November 29th, 2009

Just got back from the First Nordic Service Design conference in Olso. See my previous post. Here are a few pictures from the workshop session ’Challenges in Digital Service Provision’. It was a joint workshop between myself, Teresa Sarmento from ESAD and Lars Georg Teigen, Johan-Christian Høgåsen-Hallesby from Second Brain.

I really enjoyed the conference, it felt like the most ’designed’ experience of a conference I have ever been to — which is apt as it is a conference on Service Design. I was very impressed by the fact that when I arrived at the hotel, a welcome package was waiting for me in my room — saving me the trouble of needing to register and pick up my conference pack. The organisers also thought about what to include in the pack, a tongue-in-cheek response to that fact that its very dark and damp in Oslo at this time of the year. So, they included a pair of ’swims’ galoshes which are shoes that you wear over your nice shoes to keep them from getting wet. They also included a reflective band that can be worn over your wrist to ensure that you are seen in the dark. Qin Han was right in saying that ’cards’ are the new black of the service design world. A pack of service touchpoints cards was included in the package which was produced by the At-ONE project.

I’ve also included some pictures from the conference dinner, or shall I say do-it-yourself social cooking event! They held the meal/cooking at the School of Gastronomy, somewhere in Oslo..and got the participants to cook a tapas dish. I’ve never seen so many people in a kitchen before — it was organised chaos. But it worked brilliantly — everyone had a go, some participated more, some hang back and chatted. And the best thing was, everyone enjoyed themselves! It was a brilliant idea! I might steal it…but probably wont work in England due to the ridiculous Health and Safety regulations. Too many people, too many sharp objects and wine in the vicinity.

This was the first dedicated service design conference that I attended and was useful in terms of the issues discussed, as well as observing who was turning up for these type of events. Not sure if this is true…but Simon Clatworthy mentioned that this could be the first dedicated peer-reviewed service design conference. It was also interesting to observe that the number of designers from a viscomm/graphic design background is equally represented compare to product/interaction designer. There was also a paper stream looking specifically on visualisations in service design. The conference has also help clarified thoughts about skills and audience of a service design programme. It seems that many other institutions are at that stage where they are deciding whether or not to develop a specific MA programme in service design.

The issues that was discussed seem to revolve around the areas of understanding the heritage of service design, what can be learn from other forerunners like Participatory Design, Interaction Design etc, to the more predictable areas of methods and tools. There was also a strong branding presence in relation to the design of services. Most of the case studies presented seemed much more business orientated than social projects, which I found surprising seeing that there was a heavy Scandinavian presence where I would expect more social aspects of service design to dominate.

One last word – the next Nordic Service Design Conference will be held next year at Linkoping University, Sweden. I’ll post the link when the call for papers becomes live.

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