Studio description

Rhode Island School of Design

Department of Industrial Design 
Fall Semester Advanced Design Studio

Instructors: Matt Cottam (Part-Time Faculty), Maia Garau (Adjunct Faculty)


This course will explore opportunities, tools and methods in the emerging field of Service Design. Services have seen a dramatic rise in importance, accounting for over three quarters of Gross Domestic Product and employment opportunities in the United States today. Yet until very recently their development fell on the shoulders of business managers, who often saw them as an inconvenient but necessary accompaniment to their product offerings. Businesses have begun to see the potential of services for expanding profits and cementing brand loyalty, and are increasingly looking to the world of design to develop holistic, human-centered and innovative solutions.

Services are richly complex offerings that occur across space, time and multiple touchpoints. Through a combination of lectures and workshops we will explore what services are, how they differ from and inform product design, and how we can develop new approaches for creating prototypes and communicating service concepts.

Users “co-produce” services at the moment of consumption, so concept development will be built on an understanding of their needs and goals gained through interviews and observations. In developing service concepts we will focus on modeling customer journeys across different channels including in-person, web and mobile interactions. Students will bring these journeys to life through storyboards, animations, video prototypes and in-person role-plays. These detailed customer journeys will also contribute to the creation of service blueprints illustrating the front-stage/back-stage objects and interactions that make up a service ecology.

Students will incorporate physical evidence of the service in their designs—examples can range from paper bills to waiting areas to interactive kiosks and mobile interfaces. Though there are countless types of services from air transport to farmer’s markets to medical care, this course will place special emphasis on services that can benefit from the integration of web, mobile and embedded digital technologies. Students will be introduced to key tools and techniques for prototyping physical computing interfaces and will develop functional prototypes using Flash as a core component of their final projects.



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