On a flying trip to Melbourne Cameron Tonkinwise, Director of Design Stragetgies at Parsons New School of Design
joined us for our 3rd Service Design Melbourne Drinks and Thinks session.
It was a great evening with some 30 people coming along to listen. Cheers to the Swinburne design students for coming along and joining in.
The discussion was stimulating as we traversed two topic areas; commercial application and implications of service design in the States and learning's form the Amplify project
, which ran as a DESIS
lab project. Cameron discussed designing authentic experiences, explaining how some of Americas largest retailing companies were adopting service and expereince design techniques. Cameron introduced us to an idea of aesthetic capital and explained how Abercrombie & Fitch hire real people as human mannequins. The mannequins and not sales assistants and cannot help customers but are there purely to demonstrate how the clothes look and feel on a real person. They walk around the shop selling an aspirational version of the clothes. Often the mannequins are people approached on the street with 'the right look' they are often university students. A second idea in this vein was how customer service representatives often have more understanding of your personal situation than many of your friends. For instance some representatives have access to your financial records may know whether you are in financial hardship something that you may not to choose to tell other people. However the customer service representative is being paid to understand and in some situations empathise with your financial situation. Cameron asked us to consider whether in the guise of creating authentic service experiences, are we really just paying people to be human.
When discussing the Amplify project Cameron discussed with us the need for designers to be aware of and engage politically when working with communities in social innovation projects. This opened up an interesting discussion territory for those of us in the Service Design network interested in working in social innovation. What is the value of design in social innovation, how can design work enable communities but not disenfranchise them from governments support? These discussion will continue over the next months.
Once again thanks so much Cameron for taking the time and joining us. We loved the discussion.
If you were there are the evening please feel free to post your thoughts on the discussion below.