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Katarina Wetter-Edman

Design for Service: A framework for exploring designers’ contribution as interpreter of users’ experience

Time: April 4 at 1pm

Place: Aulan, HDK, Kristinelundsgatan 6-8, Göteborg

Opponent: professor Anna Meroni, Politecnico di Milano


It’s a well-known fact that design and service management are two disciplines close to each other and often focuses on similar subjects, such as customer and service quality. But how do they communicate with each other?

During the process with her doctoral thesis Design for Service: A framework for exploring designers' contribution as interpreter of users' experience, Katarina Wetter-Edman has been studying the communication between the business/company, the designer and the user while developing a new kind of service.

The focus has been on the role of the designer as an interpreter of the user’s experience of a previous service encounter. Talking about service design, the answers are never to be found in black or white: it’s about human material, which can’t be formed as plastic or metals.
– A cup is a cup. But the experience of your everyday bus trip to work depends on who’s driving the bus, if you’re having a great morning or who’s sitting next to you. There’s a different complexity when you’re about to design a service than when you’re going to design a cup. How do we create the value of the experience when you’re using the cup? says Katarina Wetter-Edman.

A central part of her doctoral thesis is the framework Design for Service, which coordinates and combines concepts previously specific for design and service logic research respectively.
– Service management and service logic has a broad variety of concepts that describe how we create value, but design is more interested in the effects of the process in the situation and is forward oriented, she says of the dividing line between the two disciplines.

Katarina Wetter-Edman now hopes the new framework will make it easier for the two areas to discuss what they both have in common: better services.

– In my doctoral thesis, design becomes an approach to innovation. If we’re talking about design and its importance to really understand users, we need to be able to describe this with service management terms to make people from a business background understand what we mean without compromising with the designerly competence.

In the research project Katarina studied a workshop with dairy farmers participating with the aim to share their experience of robotic milking. After the workshop she continued to study how the designers worked internally. What then followed surprised her:

- I was convinced that they would work with visual mapping tools, but instead they talked and told stories. The stories became the design material, no sketching, says Katarina Wetter-Edman. It seemed like the stories better captured the complexities of the service than traditional visualizations.