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Service Design (MA)

Ruotong Guan

Hi, I’m Ruotong, a Service Designer and Design Strategist who passionate about design for social impact. I’m also a problem solver with a bias for action, who loves a good challenge. I focus on how design can address future socio-cultural, system-level challenges and am also curious about the “Why” behind the innovative design and put research at the heart of my solutions.

 I came to the programme with a background in user experience design—I have since grown my capabilities in designing individual touchpoints as crafted delightful user interface and meaningful interaction while learning how service design methods can support end-to-end experience delivery in a business context. 

During my time at the RCA, I have worked on a range of projects across the private and public sector, collaborating with Alpha Telefonica, British Airway, the Ministry of Justice’s partner InHouse Records, and delivering strategy proposals for environmental collectives Stampede International and Planethon. Last summer I worked for a service design agency developing future mobility scenarios in 2035 and new service offerings in the hospitality sector. 

Recent Exhibitions:

Work in Progress Show, Royal College of Art, January 2020  

British Airways 2119: Flight of the future, Saatchi Gallery, London, August 2019

Area of interest: 

Social impact, Collective action, Niche innovation, Design for inclusivity, Sustainability,  Healthcare and Wellbeing, Future Mobility, Food system, Speculative design, Digital and data, Organisation transformation, Design leadership


Personal website



Design Process

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Degree Details

School of Design

Service Design (MA)



We are facing unprecedented challenges. Including climate crisis, ageing population, rapid urbanisation and issues of social and economic exclusion require action. Our planet will not redesign itself. I strongly believe design has a powerful role to play in here, as explore those problem areas, and turn them into opportunities through reshaping human behaviour, organisational structure, even the relationship with our planet.

6 years ago, I started my design journey from studying industrial design and user experience design in China. Reflecting back, my understanding of the role of designers is continuously changing along with the object, service, social system, and culture I designed with and the technology innovation. I recognised that compare to focus on physical manifestation or materials, I’m more interested in how designers engaging with those wicked problems in a system-level and create interventions to address it.

During my RCA time, I reinforced my intention to understand the relationship between people, organisations, policymakers in an ecosystem and find a space to deliver value for both sides. Furthermore, this process enabled me to realise that empowering individuals to exercise their own initiative in collaborative ways is crucial for building a sustainable and desirable Futur.

So, how might we engage people with different expertise or social roles to release their potential and designing for the place they live and work with together?

Orbit-Powering the food waste revelution
It all starts with the planet. We collaborated with Planethon whose mission is to generate a planet positive future. We chose the topic of food waste because it has a huge impact on our planet. 1/3 of food is lost or wasted globally. And despite this, there are still people going hungry.
According to the food waste hierarchy - ideally, food should not be wasted, it should be used for human consumption. We see the opportunities of using food waste as eco-friendly materials to make useful products for consumers and we are eager to help to establish green businesses for a sustainable future.


5 months
At the moment, one-third of the world’s food is wasted or lost annually, and fruit and veg are the biggest offenders. We focused our research on the upstream part of the food production chain - the closer you get to the raw materials, the larger the impact you can have.
A lot of food has been wasted due to overproduction and strict grading systems before they go to market, which has been used as animal feed or put in the landfill, which in turn contributes about 15 per cent of all greenhouse gases. Redistribution of food waste for human consumption is the best option, but how could we do so?

We started to look at how to repurpose food waste as an alternative solution for current products, and who can provide the food waste raw material. Fortunately, there are more and more pioneering designers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers have developed a variety of alternative materials made from food waste.

Beyond the creation of new products, waste valorisation has the potential to provide additional benefits to business and society including reduced environmental impacts; reduced waste disposal costs; and reduced dependence on non-renewable raw materials.

Screenshot 2020 07 06 at 1 17 03 am

After our interviews and workshop with entrepreneurs, food producers, supermarket, and people from the incubator, we arrived at our idea which is a food waste database that can leverage the most promising research, technologies and drive innovation to deliver new business value.

Orbit helps entrepreneurs to identify new opportunities, investors to make data-based investments which align with their values, and food waste producers to make profits from their waste.

There are three key features:
1. Pooling data: Orbit uses machine-learning algorithms to identify and pool data from food waste producers, technology and the market and generate a database related to food waste.
2. Identify opportunities and co-creation: Orbit categorises them into different categories, called "Big opportunities". Orbit then publishes these "Big opportunities" for entrepreneurs to apply for, and they can then create a network of stakeholders and build partnerships.
3. Information-based Investment: Orbit provides investment suggestions which come from our database. After that, investors can meet with the right entrepreneurs and other stakeholders to foster partnerships.
Although we started from working with small entrepreneurs and startups, our vision, through accelerating new partnerships between different stakeholders in the food waste area, stimulates ideas that encourage existing businesses to transform from linear systems to circular models, ultimately creating a sustainable and resilient future.

By building a platform that connects various entrepreneurs and investors, our service facilitates more voices from the planet and grass-roots level to be heard by policymakers, and values raised from niche innovation to be recognised by the wider public. Most importantly, more businesses and existing infrastructure will be part of the solution and large value chains will finally start taking a ‘systems approach’ to tackle difficult problems like food waste.

Project page:

Supervised by Clive Grinyer and Qian Sun


5 months

In Collaboration with:

Circular EconomyData collectionFood systemFuture of FoodFuture of Urban LivingIncubatorService designSustainability



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