My experience teaching service design

18 November 2016
Ben Logan

Ben Logan


Passionate about improving services and experiences for the people that use them.

I was lucky to be invited to the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Science (HiOA) to share my service design experiences with the master students. This was the third time visiting but it’s still quite a surreal experience having lunch with the teachers rather than the students. 10 years ago I started my design education here, but it feels like yesterday that I was sanding, soldering, painting and building prototypes in the workshop. It was quite a nostalgic experience.

Thinking about the years that have passed much have changed since I was a student, including the field of service design. When I was studying service design for my master it felt like the ‘new thing’ but now it’s common and everyone in the industry ‘offers’ service design. What service design is though is still unclear as these ‘offerings’ often have different meanings.

Coming into the class makes you wonder what is the ‘right’ way of doing service design. My path surely feels right, to me. So I talked about my journey and why I  ended up in this area of design and how I approach service design projects.

 ‘Why’ is that I believe service design can change the world for the better. ‘How’ is to approach projects with an open mind accepting uncertainty. It’s involving great people with different backgrounds and perspectives. It’s trusting the process, even if you cannot envision the outcome. Putting my faith in the process have surely given me the confidence to work in environments where you don’t know where the research will take you. Once again I put my faith in the process and used some of the service design ‘tools’ when teaching at HiOA. Rather than talking all day (and listening to myself) I asked the students what they thought about service design and brought out the post-its. There were some really interesting discussion points and together we came to some nice views of what service design is today.

What is service design?

It’s facilitation, collaboration, holistic, co-creation, research, human-centered, non-hierarchical, beyond the product and it happens over time.

-Students at HiOA

We also had an interesting discussion around what impact service design can make. “Service design can change habits” said one of the students. This is another intriguing topic and ‘Behavioural Economics’ is something several people at Spotless are exploring. Changing habits through service design is what we do and what we should aim to do (as long as these habits are healthy and what the users want of course).

Anyhow, I had a fabulous day in at HiOA and am grateful for the experience. To end I’ll share with you another quote coming from the students. A quote that sums up what service design is. It also wraps up the day, because the day was collaborative and dynamic, how service design should be.

“Designing for people by people.”

-Student at HiOA


Ben Logan - Director

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