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Service Design at the RCA in London December 7, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in learning, methods, service design, theory.

(image source)

The RCA has always been very influencal for the European and maybe even international design educaton: not only did I have the chance to work with Gillan Crampton Smith, who I consider to be one of the inventors of Interaction Design as a design discipline. I also consider the approach of Tony Dunne as very important for the role of designers as innovators.

Now the RCA announced a new MA program for Service Design. They are not the first academic institution to work in this field, still I am excited to see that they are approaching this field and I am looking forward to see how they are doing this.

Upon request I received a 16-page-pdf describing the course (I am not sure whether I can publish it, so please contact the RCA for this document). Some points in this paper were quite interesting:

Very positive is the broad understanding of Service Design:
The design of service experiences involves the design of the spaces and places in which services are delivered. It involves communications design, product design, interaction design and the exploitation of digital technologies that support those services.

The interdisciplinary nature of Service Design is nicely reflected in the collaboration with another university:
The core design-based courses will be complemented by Imperial College’s Department of Computing and Business School who will provide an introduction to, or enhance your technical skills in, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as well as business skills such as strategy, organisational behaviour and innovation management 

I also appreciate the academic approach to Service Design, which I don’t see so much with other institutions, especially in the area of the hyped “Design Thinking”: The course combines lectures, workshop and projects that are grounded in empirical evidence drawn from ‘real world’ practice as well as theory

“Measurement” seems to be an important topic and I am looking forward to seeing how this is applied to Services.

I aslo like the partnership with the “real live” as with IDEO, LifeWork and Engine. It is new to me that agencies are involved so closely into education, but I think this is a good approach.

Also their classification of Service Design is comprehensible and interesting:

  • Designing Consumer Service (e.g. Virgin Atlantic)
  • Designing Business to Business Service (e.g. IBM / Cisco)
  • Design of Public Services (e.g. Health, Social Services, Security)

It seems that Dr. Nick Leon will be running this course, at least it was him who sent me the mail – with the title “Head of Service Design”. Nick is currently leading Design London, a “collaboration between RCA and Imperial College London, with a remit to develop, teach, research, and deliver radical new practices, tools and processes that transform the way organisations innovate, and help them translate their creativity into commercial success.”

Too bad that I am already a professor; I would consider to study there… 🙂



1. Jana - March 13, 2013

No matter how strong of a fighter you are, you are only as good for
as long as your stamina will allow you to hold out.
Spillman. Success in life is not only about excelling in academic areas.

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