Service Design (MA)
Rosa Fernandez Cerdan
I believe design is a powerful catalyst of change to improve people’s lives and the systems we interact with.
What makes me an effective designer is that I believe in what I do and I have strong motivation to design responsibly and explore creative ways to solve complex human problems. I use a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods and processes, based on systems thinking, generative research, participatory design and facilitation among others. I am interested in understanding digitalisation and innovative technologies and incorporating them into the design process and final outcomes as a means of creating more value. But mostly I am interested in understanding people and translating their needs onto the design solutions.
Combining a creative and analytical mindset and training has been an advantage when working closely over the past few years with clients across different industries (public, private, social) on projects in social innovation, health, creative industries, citizen engagement or sustainable development. I have led and participated in multiple projects such as: Creating content for Cities&Design, an event to promote design and creative industries in Bilbao, one of the cities designated by UNESCO to enter the Cities of Design Network. Designing and launching a strategy to promote and fund innovative healthy lifestyle initiatives getting citizens involved with the Basque Innovation Agency. Editing a toolkit aimed to move towards a more inclusive and sustainable culture of entrepreneurship. Co-designing and facilitating a training program for women during the first stages of their entrepreneurial initiatives that has been implemented in Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Zaragoza. Volunteering with non-governmental organizations working against poverty in Gambia and Honduras.
My continuous desire to learn led me to enrol in the MA of Service Design at the Royal College of Art, which has given me the cutting edge skills to be active in the new generation of Service Designers. Along these two years, in teams or as solo projects I have designed services or experiences with a range of partners such as Telefonica, Public Health England, Ministry of Justice, CERN (Geneva) or Bradford City Council.
I am passionate about contemporary dance and performing arts which allows me to be a choreographer to make that change happen.
School of Design
Service Design (MA)
Since 2017, when the #metoo movement - founded by campaigner Tarana Burke- went viral after Hollywood actors shared their experiences of sexual harassment, I have been very concerned and deeply shocked about how common abuse is around the world, regardless of sex/gender, class, race, age, ethnicity, faith, nationality, etc. But at the same time, this made me think about the opportunities provided by some technologies to connect people that have a common need: raise their voices and make visible this invisible and growing pandemic for which we have not yet developed a global vaccine.
I wanted to connect this issue with the topic of my final project and explore how human centered design methods can contribute to innovate in the way of solving complex problems such as domestic abuse. This project is focused on emotional abuse within an intimate relationship, which involves a person’s choice of words or actions to control, dominate, intimidate or degrade the other person. The signs of abusive behavior can be challenging to recognise or to acknowledge when you supposedly “love” that person. Despite being the most common type of abuse, it is often hidden from society and suffered in silence. It doesn’t leave bruises, black eyes or broken bones but severe psychological and mental damages on the abusive person.
This triggered a feeling of doing research about this invisibility from a systemic approach by looking at three levels. A central level, consisting of understanding the journey of people who have experienced abuse and identifying the reasons why they did not end the abusive relationship. The second level, mapping the current public services and private professionals that support abuse in general. Finally, the third level is the opinion, awareness and myths around emotional abuse in the wider society. In all, I collected the testimonies and experience of more than twenty women that had suffered abuse (from different age, nationality, relationship status); a diversity of professionals including charities staff, lawyers, psychologists, social workers, trainers and policy makers; and a group of individuals that gave their opinion.
One of the key insights was that the vast majority of people suffering emotional abuse do not ask for help or, when looking for it, they face an additional challenge: most support services are focused on treating high and imminent risk cases and they don’t engage with them. I challenged myself to design a service for such a complex issue “that works” and is “good for the user of the service; good for the organisation providing it; and good for society as a whole” (Downe, L. Good Services, 2020).
The lockdown situation has led me to explore and combine digital and physical methods, from collage to remote work sessions and interviews, but also to engage with theories and concepts related to gender, heteronormativity, masculinity roles, “romantic” ideal of love or the powerful manifesto in the timely book “The Feminist and the Sex Offender” (Levine, J; Meiner, E., 2020) that advocate for and end of gender and sexual violence without punishment.
Service Concept — Connecting specialised support, peer practices and motivational skills.
Specialised support — Offering choices and tools to design and control their personal recovery journey.
Online training — Learning the skills necessary to develop and maintain healthy relationships.
Design process — From online interviews to multiple inspirations available in a pandemic situation.
Prototyping — "Together we can break the silence and bring a voice to domestic violence" (Survivor's testimony).
Bath Bombs — Cosmetic brands join the movement and help to spread the impact.
Her Majesty The Queen — Increasing society awareness about emotional abuse.
Creating profile — Safe place where users share their stories and experience of abuse to create a profile and have access to the services.
Design principles — Primary and secondary research has been synthesised into key insights, jobs-to-be-done and design principles.
Recognising and acknowledging emotional abuse demands time and effort and every experience of abuse is unique. Therefore, IsthisLOVE offers a delicate, flexible and valuable experience to all the users regardless of their circumstances (age, relationship status, safety conditions, social/economic/cultural factors, availability), encouraging them but giving the control to interact with the service in their preferred way.
IsThisLOVE is a new generation of public services to tackle emotional abuse, in the middle of a communication campaign and those services that prioritise support to high-risk cases. The service aims to have an impact on the users, on society. For the users, the achievement is to complete an individual journey that gives them confidence and agency to recognise emotional abuse, take action and move forward. For the service provider, IsthisLOVE introduces an agile and distributed support service delivery by introducing a digital system. The platform leverages valuable data collected from the coaches and the evaluation of users that has the potential to impact on the design of new policies and, in turn, visualising and de-stigmatizing abuse among society.
Thanks to: those courageous people that have shared their experience and story of abuse without whom this project would not have been possible; to a committed network of professionals and warriors that support daily victims of abuse who shared with me their practices and knowledge such as : Charities staff , Psychologists, Lawyers, Social Workers, Trainers, Coaches and Policy makers; to my family and close network of friends and professionals that have supported me impartially in the most challenging times with their listening, opinion and dedication. And special thanks to my tutor, Marta Ferreirá de Sá.