What is immediately clear is that service design is a choral project. This becomes abundantly clear when you tour the Milanese offices of Design Group Italia with Edgardo Angelini, Managing Director and partner with Peter Newbould and Sigurdur Thorsteinsson. In the heart of Milan’s Chinatown, near Via Paolo Sarpi, Design Group Italia has set up its headquarters in an unusual cozy space in the courtyard of a “casa di ringhiera”, a residential house with a common balcony typical of the region . With seventy-five professionals, offices in New York and Reykjavik and fields of activity ranging from product design to brand and packaging design and from graphic to digital design, Design Group Italia breaks away from the classic canons of the conventional Milanese interior design studio. Service design is one of the frontiers that the studio, now a member of the Alkemy group, has been exploring for at least fifteen years, along with the design of spaces interpreted as places of experience and communication. The walls are draped with sheets of paper several meters long, covered with complex diagrams built to represent the requirements of the different players involved in each project, in terms of spaces, applications and phases in the process. Then there is the ‘design kitchen’, a multipurpose space with a small stage, tables, chairs, screens and, on one side, an actual kitchen. This is the workshop where the members of the studio make up ‘new ideasrsquo; and hold their design thinking sessions, using a participatory working method that clearly benefits service design, given the discipline’s inherent complexity.
Design Group Italia comes from a prestigious background: founded in 1968 by Marco Del Corno to design products, brands and packaging, it won two Compasso d’Oro awards in 1979 (followed by two more later), for the Tratto Pen and the Tratto Clip, products that have achieved worldwide success. The studio has never betrayed its mission of innovation, interpreted over the last decade with the introduction of digital design and service design. “These two areas are related,” explains Angelini, “even though they are kept separate in our studio. Service design is very often applied to digital design, but it is more than that.” Service Design Director Lidia Tralli goes into more detail. “Service design is an extension of interaction design: the principles of human-machine interaction are taken to a higher level. Service design looks at experiences from a macro point of view, considering interaction with all the touchpoints a user may have with a given entity or offering. Service design orchestrates several different elements and looks at them all as a whole to create the best possible experience”, whether it’s a matter of buying a new bank, doing your banking, or getting medical treatment, in a hospital or via a remote consultation.
There is one thing that is unique about a designer working on the design of a service: “The person is always the focus of the design,” Angelini points out; “The designer always argues about the person and the user experience. The purpose of service design is to solve the problem of the relationship between a physical or digital artefact or service and the person using it, to ensure that this relationship is not only functionally important, but above all in terms of the emotions and the service. provide.”
To effectively build a service experience, it is essential to listen: to users, and to operators, to create a map and understand which methods and connections to work on. “We work with the operators,” Tralli continues, “watch them at work, watch the spaces and tools they use. Every single aspect is involved in this mapping process, even the way they answer the phone, or the waiting time involved.” Creative Director Chris Miller describes one interesting case that Design Group Italia recently worked on: “A manufacturer of high-end upholstered furniture and furnishings asked us to improve the customer experience they offer. Their goal was to transform the buying experience, which sometimes takes several months to complete, with the help of an architect, into something unforgettable. We started with the brick-and-mortar store, while at the same time creating a digital environment that makes it possible to maintain connection points with customers as time goes by. After the customer’s first visit to the store, a digital book is produced that the customer can look back on, in which all the customer’s preferences are stored. When the time comes to make a decision, there is a software room in the store, in which customers can digitally set up all the possible options and find out how much they will cost.” The service design creates a pleasant experience that revolves around a purchase decision, exploring all the possibilities and putting the customer at the center of the entire process. This method can be successfully applied to interactions of any kind, including public services, to improve their level. It has an infinite number of potential applications.
All images: Courtesy of Design Group Italia
01 and 05 The 3M Custom Innovation Center (Sweden) designed by Design Group Italia
02, 10, 11 House of Wisdom Library, Sharjah (EAU), FabLab, VR Learning design. Design Group Italia designed a series of experiences and physical spaces for experiences and learning for House of Wisdom.
03 A workshop in the Milan offices of Design Group Italia
04, 08, 09 D-Heart by Design Group Italia: the first integrated electrocardiograph that can be used independently by patients and caregivers; winner of the 2020 Compasso d’Oro award.
06 and 07 Blue Lagoon Iceland: new concept for the spa experience and shopping in the flagship store
12 Conceptual map of an experience space (Design Group Italia)
13 The 3M Custom Innovation Center (Italy) designed by Design Group Italia
14-16 Edgardo Angelini, Design Group Italia Managing Director and partner;
Lidia Tralli, Service Design Director;
Chris Miller, creative director.