Service Design (MA)
I’m Alessandro Paone, Industrial and Service designer born in Lanciano (CH), a small town in the centre of Italy, near the Adriatic coast. After high school, I studied Biomedical Engineering at Politecnico di Milano. Although I liked the subjects I was studying, I found them too theoretical, realizing that I needed to do something more hands-on, tangible and less abstract, so I enrolled in Industrial Design at the Politecnico di Milano.
During my three years of study there, I worked on a wide range of projects: from an immersion blender to a set of cutlery. From a playground for autistic children to baggage for 2030 in partnership with Samsonite. Besides, I had the chance to work for Re.rurban, organizing the “DOUTDEsign” Exhibition for the FuoriSalone 2018 and designing the podium for “Poltrona Sospesa”, an unreleased chair by Franco Albini.
After my BS I’ve felt the need to expand my knowledge by specializing in Service Design at the “Royal College of Art”. I started studying industrial design because I wanted to improve people’s lives, but I’ve always seen service design as a way to create a bigger impact and to bring change on a societal level.
During these two last years, I have been working on a wide range of projects trying to learn how the service design practice works in both the private and public sectors, collaborating with project partners such as Ministry of Justice, Lloyds Banking Group, Alpha and In-House Records.
Through the network built working with In-House Records, last summer I had the chance to collaborate with Ernst & Young on a project aiming at bringing together people from several organisations and backgrounds who share a passion for positively affecting people’s lives. It was an inspiring experience that taught me a lot about the difficulties small organizations face daily and how important collaboration and knowledge sharing is.
As far as my final project is concerned, I wanted it to sum up my entire academic career and overlap it with my interests, so I decided to focus on the healthcare sector.
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At RCA, I’ve been supported in shaping my perspective and definition of service design. Personally, service design is more of an approach rather than a subject. Through a deep understanding of the context, service designers define and frame problems, find opportunities within them, putting people at the centre of the creative process. These people will help them test and validate the idea that will be delivered. This will not only solve the problem but create shared value too. The solution might end up being a service, a product, a strategy or whatever. Service design is one approach that can open up thousands of possibilities. To do so, knowing and understanding the context you are designing in, is key to create innovative and efficient solutions. For this reason, research and prototyping phases are those to which I am most sensitive. Both are collaborative and dependent on the active participation of key stakeholders. We have to design with people rather than for people.
My background in industrial design has influenced my way of thinking and working: I like to define myself as a maker. As service designers, we often deal with intangibility. It’s then important to bring a tangible sense to the project in every possible situation: mapping, sketching ideas, building quick prototypes and creating measurable impact. Spending time on understanding how to make something tangible allows you to determine the opportunities and weaknesses of an idea.
In the future, I would like to explore how to apply the service design method to industrial design. There’s the opportunity to overcome the concept of user-centred design and consider a wider system of actors. Including not only human beings, but considering the planet as the key actor, and creating a societal change. I’ve chosen to study service design because it has a huge potential to change positively the society we live in and this goal constantly motivates me.
I’m interested in systemic problems, social impact, healthcare and humanising technology, so when the first news about COVID-19 came from China, I felt the responsibility to design for it. Designing for the pandemic while living it was stressful and my project partner Pinja and I needed to re-asset our process. This has pushed us out of our comfort zone, forcing us to think creatively and coming up with alternative ways of working, constantly testing and iterating the process itself.
03 Household Health App — Application provided for tenants to organise Health Dialogues and access everyday support
04 Shared Health Cabinet — Cabinet placed in a common space hosting local healthcare service contacts and space for emergency supplies
05 User experience — End to end journey of the service
05 Health Dialogue — A digitally facilitated discussion taking place during the first weeks of living together. Click to see the full application.
07 Health Dialogue Part 1 — Kick-off helps tenants get to know each other and discuss co-living expectations.
08 Health Dialogue Part 2 — Health and Living guides tenants in agreeing on common everyday health actions and house rules.
09 Health Dialogue Part 3 — The third part prepares the flatshare for emergencies providing them emergency contacts and a shopping list for supplies.
10 Health Dialogue Part 4 — Agreement finishes the discussion by committing to what was discussed.
57% of flatshares live in shared homes because of financial reasons, most being young professionals or students in urban high-density areas such as London. This spring, flatshares, who have complex social webs, various lifestyles and dynamics, have been struggling to agree on infection prevention measures. Fear of catching the virus and conflicts caused by misaligned practices has caused many to move out of their homes. Those who had no choice but to stay needed to adapt.
Before agreeing on common actions there needs to be a discussion to reach a consensus - but often the most important discussions are the hardest ones. Many flatshares lack the discussion culture and avoid confrontations.
Household Health is a service provided for flatshares by their letting agency. It encourages the tenants to sit down for a chat during the first weeks of living together. The home is provided with a Health Cabinet with instructions to download an app, in which they can schedule their first Health Dialogue. The Dialogue is a digitally facilitated ritual that covers 4 topics. The themes were co-created with tenants with the aim of helping them agree on their Home Code, agreed health actions and rules.
The app can be used after the first dialogue for everyday support; The Safety Handbook hosts guidelines for illness scenarios and cleaning. The Cabinet, which is placed in a common space, hosts information of all local NHS services and emergency contacts and can be filled with shared first aid supplies.
By providing the tenants with the means and a push from the outside they are able to cover all topics by relying on trusted NHS and PHE advice. The fun and gamified experience brings them closer from the start of cohabiting, and the newly established discussion culture helps prevent future conflicts. The agencies benefit from having less early contract terminations and can use the service to promote the safety of their rooms in this new normal.
If you had to move in with strangers today, how safe would you feel without having a discussion about health?
In collaboration with Pinja Piipponen
Supervised by Clive Grinyer and Neil Gridley