Design Innovation Academics Present at Service Design and Innovation Conference

Academics from the Institute for Design Innovation recently participated in the premier research conference for exchanging knowledge within Service Design and service innovation studies, ServDes.

Committed to developing partnerships with industry and civil society to address the latest social, enterprise and innovation needs in design, Dr Laura Santamaria, Dr Ksenija Kusmina and doctoral researcher Vicky Gerrard from the Institute for Design Innovation have each presented and been involved in the internationally renowned conference offering industry expert advice and revolutionary ideas at the recent Service Design and Innovation conference (ServDes.)

Doctoral researcher Vicky Gerrard was asked to put together and chair a panel on designing toward a creative city: positioning the citizen in Singapore's rebranding; which examined the intentions and practices underlying the Design 2025 call to engage the Singapore public in the country's national design identity. Vicky previously ran a social design lab at the Singapore University of Technology and Design for 5 years, researching design and participation during her time there. Vicky is now a doctoral researcher in the Institute for Design Innovation where she has continued to work on the same topic making her an imperative member of the panel.

Speaking of the event, Vicky said:

"ServDes2020 was the first time that the ServDes conference was taking place in Asia Pacific. Having previously been traditionally quite a eurocentric conference, the 'Regional Panels' were intended to showcase Service Design in the region. The 'Designing toward a creative city: Positioning the citizen in Singapore's rebranding' was the regional panel for Singapore. Our intention for this panel was not only to showcase service design in Singapore, but to take a more critical perspective and reflect on where service design sits within state design policy, and where the citizen sits within that. On the panel we had two service designers, Dr Jung Joo Lee, a professor at the National University of Singapore, and Debbie Ng, a designer at ThinkPlace. Alongside them we had two non-designers, Dr Carol Soon, Senior Research Fellow at The Institute of Policy Studies at NUS, and Justin Zhuang, a freelance design historian, who both helped to situate the discussion. The conversations provided a good overview of the service design landscape in Singapore, some of the successes and also some of the challenges that still need to be overcome."

The recording of the Designing toward a creative city: Positioning the citizen in Singapore's rebranding panel can be viewed on YouTube here.

Dr Laura Santamaria and Dr Ksenija Kuzmina also conducted a workshop entitled 'Service Design Meets Strategic Action'. They presented the 'Action Heroes Journey', a resource kit designed to enable active citizen participation in public life we co-developed with designers and community organisers. Based on Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey storytelling monomyth, the toolkit integrates methods from service design and community organising disciplines, and is aimed to help users to discover and align their personal values with the future development of their community. One key area in design for social change is to empower citizens to activate change that disrupts built-in systemic inequalities and exploitative practices which this workshop exampled.

Speaking of the workshop, Dr Laura Santamaria said:

"We were delighted that the session was fully subscribed to the maximum number of participants, which indicates the high level of interest among the community to enlarge the toolbox and methods for engaging with citizen mobilisation and social change. We had great feedback from participants who recognised the value of our framework and contributed ideas for developing metaphorical ‘heroic journeys’ of transformation and change within a diversity of contexts and areas of practice."

Dr Ksenija Kuzmina also was a panelist in a thematic discussion entitled 'impact, transitions, speculations', which focused on how the pandemic has brought acute attention in ways that are intensely felt and experienced to question the impact and sustainability of our existing systems and structures. The panel explored what the existing research and practices in Service Design and beyond that can enable us to engage with some of todays pressing issues.

Speaking of the panel discussion, Dr Ksenija Kuzmina said:

"It was a pleasure to be part of such an esteemed panel, sharing the floor with Dr Lucy Kimbell, Dr Ravi Mahamuni, and Dr Rebecca Anne Price. The panel reflected on the transitions the pandemic initiated in the political, economic, social and material sphere and deliberated on what it might mean for service innovation, service design and designers in addressing ecological challenges. Some of the points raised during the discussion that I found particularly relevant included facilitation of reflexive designers, design leadership and activism for climate change, localisation of services and re-design of education as a service to enable long term sustainability. Drawing on the overarching theme of the conference, there was a consensus in the panel that service design needs to re-evaluate and re-imagine its engagement with sustainability and the climate agenda."

The Institute for Design Innovation has recently opened for applications for their MSc Service Design Innovation, visit the programme page to find out more about this exciting contemporary programme.