Daniela Sangiorgi: service design as the design of activity systems

Daniela follows Elena Pacenti’s (1998) view on services, which is that we must look at services as complex interfaces between providers and users. Service complexity refers to the complexity of the relationships and interactions via that interface. To understand this you need to look at the context of both sides, users and providers. The social and cultural context, and the organisational context.

Sangiorgi used Activity Theory to support her case-studies on designing services. One principle is that you need to provide people participating in workshops to develop services with material instead of conclusions. Participants need to develop their own understanding for instance from analysing video clips of different practices themselves and explain these to the group. Another way to apply this principle was to distribute ‘issue cards’ that presented small briefs for issues to address with service ideas. She did a case-study with these processes in Denmark at the Mads Clausen Institute with Danfoss, a company which installs cooling systems in supermarkets. They tried to improve the service of installing the equipment.

She uses then activity maps from Activity Theory to feedback the results from such a workshop. Through the map the focus is shifted from objects to actions in the situation she is looking at. The map provides also a view on the context in which specific activities take place. It also helps to develop a design language and design guidelines.

From her case-studies she found that the design should be focusd on designing platforms instead of desiging a series of interactions between supplier and user. She is now working on¬† “service cluster for the digital economy” which sees services as adaptive complex systems. She also looks at how people in their daily lives react to changes in policy that are aimed at changing their lives.