Saturday, 6 February 2010

Service Design in Practice

With David Townson

Beginning the lecture referring to an article that appeared in The Independent newspaper (Friday, 6th February 2009), “Too many design students, not enough jobs?” I was not exactly filled with confidence about the forthcoming lecture. With the shocking figure that on average most people will have 14 jobs before the age of 38, David made the point that our generation did not really ‘stick’ to any one job. Moving our skill set around, I personally did not see too much of an issue with this figure(and as I later discussed in my seminar that followed that day, the more jobs you have the more skills you are likely to learn). To get a job in the design field you have to be blooming good in your field or you have to have an alternative strategy to what you’ve learnt from DJCAD. I agree with the last point, I study Interior and Environmental Design but it does not mean that I will be employed in that part of the sector and what David asked us to try and do was to try and think quite broadly in what we would like to do and how we could use the skills that we are learning all the time in different parts of the industry.

The main point I learnt from yesterday’s lecture was that collaboration between the designer and the audience is very important. By involving people and talking them through the design process they are more likely to adopt the solution.
With examples from lift sharing with a small pocket of the community to helping a lightweight tubing company open up to a larger market, we were allowed to understand this point further.

An example: Lightweight Tubing Company
Already an accomplished company within the cycling field providing lightweight tubing for punctures, they felt a little unsatisfied. Wanting to increase their market, the company sought help from the Design Council. With there support, the company were able to redevelop elements within their current company and were able to connect to other industries. One of these advances, for example, was the light weight tubing being sold to some car manufacturer’s who used it to make lightweight cars.

A problem that designers can have is trying to be too clever. Talking about a visit to Manchester, David talked about an example where a designer tried to solve a problem but in trying to do so they in turn created another.
Picture the scene… it’s miserable and grey outside and raining heavily. You’re running late for a meeting, your umbrella has just managed to hold up in the gale force winds and you share an uncanny resemblance with a drowned rat. You walk into a plush hotel entrance, umbrella leaving a trail of glistening rain drops. You’re struggling! You glance anxiously about and your heart skips a beat…a stand holding bags for your wet umbrella is there, brilliant! Not so fast. Sure your problem is primarily solved and you do not soak the whole place with the rainwater but what happens when you want to dispose of the bag…there is no bin on the stand. A prime example where designers have failed to solve the whole problem. The had covered safety, ergonomics and function but had forgotten all about disposal. In a world that is constantly changing it is important for designers to adapt to the new problems facing our society and try to solve these as best as they can, without creating unnecessary issues!

I really enjoyed this lecture and felt it was useful in getting us to think broadly as a designer and understanding fully the people that we are designing for. A point that David raised and I thought was relevant was do we as students get advice in career prospects from tutors. The whole lecture theatre echoed 'no' and it was quite nice for an outsider to tell us that even if we ourselves are a little unsure of where we want to end up, it pays to be open to every possibility including service design...possibly just trying for a sale...?

With thanks:

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