Claire Dennington Service Design as a Cultural Intermediary

Today many established service providers are seemingly unable to relate to subtle shifts within consumer attitudes and societal and cultural changes, when delivering new services. At the same time innovative store concepts and independent services are responding to the needs and wishes of a more connected, enlightened and active consumer, through offering socio-cultural relevant services. These concepts seem to be translating the cultural phenomenon of social awareness into their service offerings. 

Design literature presents the designer as a cultural intermediary, enabling meaning through artefacts that both influence and are influenced by culture. Marketing literature also suggest brands as cultural intermediaries. Service design relates to both design and the brand of a service, still there is a lack in both service design practice and literature of discussion around how service design can be aware of, and influence culture. 

In this PhD proposal I intend to look into the question of how established service providers can engage in current societal and cultural conversations with customers through new service offerings. Through a Research by Design approach I will explore how service design is, or can act as a cultural intermediary, through designing relevant socio-culturally informed service concepts. I will also investigate the cultural phenomenon of social awareness, in relation to service design. The aim of this thesis is to produce a method or tool for service designers and service providers to assist in identifying, translating and delivering culturally relevant services to customers. 

Institute of Design / Simon Clatworthy (Supervisor)

PhD started in 2015