Satu Miettinen is currently a visiting professor at University of Stanford (1.8.2015- 31.7.2016) at professor Larry Leifer's Design X research group. She also works as a professor at the University of Lapland. For several years she has been working with service design research and authored number of books and research publications in this area. Her research interests are in the areas of social and public service development as well as in the area of digital service development. She has both national and international expert positions in these areas. She is a research director in several national and international service design research projects coordinated by the University of Lapland. Further, she is running a research group in service design and supervising doctoral thesis in the areas of service and social design. Satu Miettinen works actively in the area of social design in Namibia, South Africa and China. She is active artist and designer in the area socially engaged art. In the past she has worked as a project manager and specialist in
the areas of crafts development, cultural and creative tourism in several international and European Union funded projects during the period 1997–2006.
What first inspired your interest in service design?
I started as social designer working around service development for tourism industry and the crafts development. I’m a textile designer from my first profession. I became more and more involved in projects that took place around service development and realized how huge contribution design methods could give into that.
How has your work evolved since you began your work?
The last decade has been ground breaking in the field of design. Designer’s role has changed hugely because of digitalization and globalization. The role of designer has expanded from concrete to abstract.
Designers are working more and more with strategic contents. This has effect my work as well. Of course I work currently as a university professor and research work is one of the main contents for me. The designer has to be well networked and have an ability to apply her/his knowledge and tool multi-disciplinary.
How is your work received internationally?
I work all the time with global consortiums and contents. I think that this has become more of a norm than exception. I have been able to publish the results of my work in recognized channels.
Can you talk about a key service design outcome from your time at University of Lapland?
I would mention two things:
Doctoral school for Culture centered service design which is the service design doctoral program based on wide-ranging, multidisciplinary research related with service design, guided by a human-centered perspective. The doctoral program emphasizes the meaning of the societal and cultural and natural environments as contexts of design-oriented, practice-based research. The doctoral program is distinguished by the strong connection between research, art, and semiotics of design; and societal phenomena, experiences, the environment, and culture. The fields featured within the program include e.g. applied art and design, tourism and mobilities, social work, marketing, media, multimodal communication, learning and education.
SINCO is a service prototyping laboratory at the Faculty of Art and Design in University of Lapland, Finland. SINCO also represents a holistic hands-on approach to service design, co-creation and user-experience-driven innovation activities.
Now that you are working at Stanford University, what is the best part of being involved in their projects?
I think that the best part of Stanford in the environment that enables working with research everywhere or ubiquitously. Research is not only taking place in an office but through interactions and discussions with people and of course amount of great people to meet with!
How do you define service design?
I define service design through design word. I see that service design is about using design methods for improving the human experience or user experience. I see that service design is a multi-disciplinary effort and there can several definitions to it.
Designers help companies to understand how to co-create value in their context, generating ‘evidence’ for change. Do we need a more complex process collaboration to bridge the knowledge into the organisations and translate it into innovation practices?
I think that we need learning experiences that service design can facilitate in companies or in institutions. Peer to peer learning, practice based learning and learning by doing that concretize the necessary changes. I think that implementing a new process is always a challenge but improving an existing one or streamlining it might be easier.
Will the relevant role of visualisations be replaced by a new set of integrated models to better inform and support the evaluation and decision making stages?
I think that visual thinking and competence is in the heart of service design. Of course that part develops also and I really hope that strategic management will adopt it.
Service Design is generally described as a phase characterised by a set of activities, tools and competences. What do you think about the necessity to consider Service Design as a professional design practice?
In my opinion service design has already established itself as discipline yet I see that more important than set of activities and tools in philosophy and ability to strategic management and thinking as well as holistic understanding “seeing the big picture”. The world is changing into more and more digital and complex how could we manage without service design?
Are there any factors that affect innovation process and dynamics that are overlooked?
Humanity and role of person as an innovator, human ability to innovate all the time and everywhere and not only during action at work. How to encompass human creativity and civic intelligence into innovation process.
What actually are the most important constraints and conditions for change?
I think it comes down to enduring stress. People are afraid of the new and unknown as well as increased workloads. Good people management and courage to dismiss some old process and work assignment is important.
In your book “Service Design with a theory”, you and your friends discussed about the thematic areas of Change, Value and Methods. Service Design practices are looking for a new connection within existing theories? or they are exploring new research fields for a new innovation services?
I think that service design is a holistic view, which connects existing theories in a new way yet there is always space to come of with new information and knowledge.
What are the future research projects on Service Design that would be relevant to designers, design users and academics?
Societal change and the climate change, times are moving and people are in a flow throughout the world. Service design can help in dealing with complex problems, giving tools for concretizing and bringing new solutions.
Is this the right time to re-conceptualise the meaning of “service” as well as “designing”?
I think that it’s good to talk about design for services and designer’s role as facilitator not necessarily as the one solving the challenge but helping out during the process with her/his tools and methodologies. In this sense we could discuss more about process of framework orientated designing. The difference between services and products has been considered irrelevant for their common ability to help and support the innovation.
What’s the next?
Minimum viable management, how build up team and organizations that are not hold back by administration, empowering decision making and in this way boosting the innovation process.
What's the biggest misunderstanding designers have about service design?
More time used in thinking and design philosophy is needed in these hectic times.
What is something that currently fascinates you?
Shift from post its to making and makerculture
Do you have some new dream projects you would like to achieve before the end of the year?
Not by end of the year but next year I’ll hopefully start working with artistic research project called “Women living in the edges of the work – Murmansk-Rovaniemi-Port Augusta around art interventions and empowerment
What advice would you give to someone thinking about studying service design and design thinking at university?
I think it’s about thinking and visioning working in teams and having a passion and flow about service design
You couldn’t live without?
My children Sampo and Ruusu who have travelled the world with me from the arctic to the south
What single thing would improve your quality of life?
Informativa ai sensi dell’art. 13 D.LGS. 30 giugno 2003 n.196
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