Designing for Service as One Way of Designing Services
Lucy Kimbell


This paper considers different ways of approaching service design, exploring what professional designers who say they design services are doing. First it reviews literature in the design and management fields, including marketing and operations. The paper proposes a framework that clarifies key tensions shaping the understanding of service design. It then presents an ethnographic study of three firms of professional service designers and details their work in three case studies. The paper reports four findings. The designers approached services as entities that are both social and material. The designers in the study saw service as relational and temporal and thought of value as created in practice. They approached designing a service through a constructivist enquiry in which they sought to understand the experiences of stakeholders and they tried to involve managers in this activity. The paper proposes describing designing for service as a particular kind of service design. Designing for service is seen as an exploratory process that aims to create new kinds of value relation between diverse actors within a socio-material configuration. This has implications for existing ways of understanding design and for research, practice and teaching.

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