Celebration and contemplation at the Design & Emotion Conference

This year’s Design & Emotion conference at Amsterdam’s Pakhuis de Zwijger was a great opportunity to pause for “Celebration & Contemplation” – this year’s theme. Speakers included renowned Dutch designers Maarten Baas and Christien Meindertsma. The Design & Emotion Society asks how we as designers and design researchers can explore and integrate the emotional experiences of design through products, services or interactions with new technologies. The conference opened up on a playful and thought-provoking note. We all wrote a research question we’d like explore through the conference events on a balloon. The stage became a sea of purple balloons and design research questions (such as: Sustainability versus design versus emotion?)  

Technology-supported emotion measurement

We presented STBY’s Auto-Cam project at a breakout session on ‘User…

Creating the Future of Public Transportation

How can we learn from and be inspired by innovators in the field of mobility? This is what the core members of the program ‘The Future of Public Transport’ of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment asked themselves. Their team is working on a vision and a strategic agenda for public transport in the Netherlands in 2040. Recently, they finished an extensive scan of technological innovation and opportunities for policymaking. As a next step, they are involving both the established public transport organisations and innovators to jointly explore future directions. Challenges include: How to shorten the (perceived) ‘door-to-door’ travel time’? How to maintain mobility in cities?

In a recent creative session they asked participants to propose solutions and discuss the consequences if these became reality. STBY was invited to join these conversations, and to explore the solutions…

Designing for a world where age does not matter

How can we develop products and services for a world in which age does not matter? Intergenerational design was a buzz phrase at the recent Age Does Not Matter festival in London, and it is a promising approach to the challenges posed by an ageing society. But is it enough?

I had an interesting conversation with my mother recently. She is currently in her mid-sixties and thriving, juggling her role as a successful business manager, zumba classes, gin & tonics with friends and the numerous other activities that put my social calendar to shame. Put simply, she likes to think of herself as more youthful than most youths, and rightly so.

She has recently decided to work remotely for a few days of the week, to, you know, spice things up. I got really excited when she told me this, and immediately mapped all of the trendiest co-working spaces near her house. When I showed her the short-list, I was surprised by …

London Design Festival: Research on the move

STBY held a 2 hour workshop as part of the Service Design Fringe Festival on September 20th at our studio in Shoreditch. Here we explored visual methods for design research, building on STBY’s latest publication Viewfinders: Thoughts on Visual Design Research. Participants were invited to play with different technologies and techniques (e.g. GoPro, Narrative Clip) to capture and communicate user journeys.

We worked in small groups to document, edit, arrange, and present visual design research. We then critically reflected upon tactics and approaches for capturing everyday life in a visual and engaging way and the latest technologies used to do so.

During the workshop we proposed a client brief to the participants. We found this evoked participants to engage in the activity with the end goals in mind, considering possible client needs and desires along the way. We found that each group…

Food for Thought: the Future of Food and Dining Out

The STBY London team had the fortunate opportunity of attending Nesta’s Futurefest 2016. The packed schedule was overwhelming and we left in a state of dizzied inspiration. A few things emerged from the fog of weekend memory, the most noteworthy of which was a debate on the future of dining out. This is a thought on where we are now and where we might be heading in light of this thought-provoking discussion.

On food designers, futurologists and the rising polymaths of the culinary world  

The panel alone is worthy of mention in its own right. The session was chaired by Food Futurologist, Dr. Morgaine Gaye, whose work centres around the future of food/beauty/smell from both a cultural, evolutionary and societal perspective. She was joined by Marije Vogelzang, a Dutch “eating designer”. In contrast to the work of “food designers”, Marije’s focus is around the verb ‘to eat’…

Moving Targets and Visual Design Research: STBY at the 9th Service Design Global Conference

The 9th Service Design Global Conference entitled ‘Business as Unusual’ will take place in Amsterdam on 27 – 28 October 2016 and will include a presentation and masterclass from STBY, co-organizer of the conference. In her presentation ‘Moving Targets‘, Geke van Dijk will be sharing principles of agile collaboration with interdisciplinary teams in large organisations, derived from several years collaboration on projects with Google. She’ll focus on approaches that enable research to create deep insights upon which to ground decisions, while keeping up with the speed and dynamism of agile development of new service propositions in these kinds of large organisations.

Sam Miller and Astrid Lubsen will conduct a master class on visual design research, a topic about which STBY recently published the book Viewfinders. Participants in Untapped visual

Service design at the movies

Services are like oxygen. Everyone uses them every day, but we don’t take much notice unless they are exceptional or go wrong. Though often not the main plot, service design plays a role in many highly entertaining productions. And they can also teach us lessons about what makes services fail or succeed.

Unfriendly computers

Bad services are a notorious source of hilarity in comedies. They revolve mostly around rigid systems that don’t adapt to their clients’ needs. The resulting frustration is all too recognizable. Little Britain’s famous Computer Says No series is a great example. Carol Beer, bank worker and hospital receptionist, is the personification of unhelpful services. Whenever consulted with even the most reasonable request, she lazily types something, then by default replies that: “The computer said no”. Carol teaches us that even though a service…

Citizen participation as a catalyst for change

Sometimes, service providers and end-users are one and the same. In a city that is bankrupt, has a lot of vacant space in decay, very limited local fresh food, and massive unemployment rates, limited government initiatives are just not enough. Proactive citizens take matters into their own hands. Here’s what happened in Detroit.

In the last decades, Detroit has seen a large deindustrialization and depopulation, resulting in a barren city landscape. One of the ways the government combatted this was by starting the Farm A Lot program. Originating in the mid-seventies and ending in 2002, the Farm A Lot program offered free seeds and tilling assistance to residents with the goal of cleaning up the city and helping struggling Detroiters help themselves.

With Farm A Lot, the government supported citizens of Detroit to use and maintain the vacant lots and produce fresh food for a relatively low …

London Design Festival: Research on the move

STBY is running a 2 hour workshop as part of the Service Design Fringe Festival next week at our studio in Shoreditch. Here we’ll explore visual methods for design research, building on STBY’s latest publication Viewfinders: Thoughts on Visual Design Research. Participants will be invited to play with different technologies and techniques (e.g. GoPro, Narrative Clip) to capture and communicate user journeys.

Limited to 15 participants, we’ll work in small groups to document, edit, arrange, and present visual design research. We will then critically reflect upon tactics and approaches for capturing everyday life in a visual and engaging way and the latest technologies used to do so (e.g. GoPro, Narrative Clip).

We hope this workshop will stimulate discussion around the added value of visual design research methods in capturing and communicating rich and nuanced stories and experiences.…

Photos from a Secret City

A favourite photographer of mine, Martin Parr, recently spent two years as photographer in residence for the City of London Corporation, which is the municipal governing body of the City of London. It’s an area of London that many consider the historic centre of the city, where much of the UK’s financial industry is situated.

An exhibition of Parr’s photographs during this residency named Unseen City was recently held at Guildhall Art Gallery, which houses the official art collection of the City of London. As a design researcher particularly interested in using photography and film, I found myself at the exhibit thinking about what it might mean to view these photographs in the context of design research. I’ve often found Parr’s work to go beyond mere ‘snapshots’ – his images often, if not always, function as social and cultural commentary. With images like Imperial War Museum …

Presentation of MindLab service design event

Geke van Dijk was invited to present at MindLab’s popular morning event on service design.  She described and illustrated the necessity of addressing the full user experience when creating public as well as private services. The user journey plays a central role as a method to understand how users interact with services, providing useful insights when adjusting services. You can watch the full presentation here.…

What Design Can Do For The Climate

How can designers tackle a problem as complex as climate change? That was the question we were faced with when we partnered with What Design Can Do…

Lead… and let go

In our projects we often help clients to innovate by doing design research together. This usually includes qualitative research and co-creation…

Pushing the Boundaries

The following is an excerpt from our forthcoming publication Viewfinders: Thoughts on Visual Design Research (2016). Visual design research…