Hi everyone,

I am recently invited to write a book introducing Service Design to undergraduate design students (mainly industry design background) and educators in China. This is going to be a simple but inspiring little book, introduce the concept, the methods, the process and present a number of case studies from around the world.

I just finished my own PhD studying Service Design in the UK, and my co-author has published a number of books in Design Management and branding in China. What we find very difficult in preparing material is to find case studies in China, or Hong Kong, to demonstrate how the concept of Service Design or social innovation can work in a Chinese context. It is rather surprising that, with its rapid growing importance in global economy, China's voice has not been much heard in international discussion on the hot topics like Design Thinking or Service Design.

I am wondering if any of you guys have advice on what project we should check out or who are the people in China we should interview? 

Thanks in advance, and I look forward to hear from you! 


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Hi Qin,

I am not in that exact area, but In understand the difficulties when trying to research and publish on topics like this within the Chinese context.

I am unable to give you much in the way of case studies, but I can help you understand why it might be hard to find them.

In the research that I have been doing I have found that design is still viewed by many managers and business owners as something that is an extension of factory work. That is: it's assumed that a - design is simply something that tells you what to make and b - if you have a design problem simply through more designers as the problem or make them work on it for longer or motivate them with money.

Within such a mind set I think you will find that there will be little realisation that service design is a valid form of design or even recognised as existing. Even by those who do it.

Please don't think I am suggesting that you will not find the case studies. I am simply suggesting that you might find the phrase 'service design' will not register with the people you want to make contact with. I could be wrong, but I think you might need to give some thought to other terms or phrases when trying to find these case studies.

I know this doesn't actually tell you much, but I hope it helps in some way.


Hi Clint,

Thank you for the advice. I have visited China couple of times last year, and it is true as you said, there is no such a field as "service design" in China yet. However, if we look at Service Design 20 years ago here in the UK, it was non-existing as well. This is why I believe it is important to open up the vision for young design students- they are the future of design in China and they need to know that there are things beyond decorating a room or making a kettle.

I had some rather inspiring conversations with some of the professors in Design and Design Management. I think the concept of Service Design is appealing to the design world in China in someway, however, I have to admit that the recognition of it is next to none. But in Jiangnan University and Tongji University there are some awareness of Service Design, thanks to their frequent communication with European universities.

Finding Service Design practice maybe difficult if we limit ourselves to narrow definitions, what I see interesting is that social innovation is growing in some areas (e.g. in some exploratory architecture and town planning projects )and branding (where trend forcasting and user experience is rising awareness of holistic design approaches to some clients with international background). So maybe sourcing practice in these areas is more feasible option.

Thank you for the comment, it is really helpful for us to think through this subject in a Chinese context.

You might want to get in contact with Professor Yongqi Lou at Tongji University and Professor Jiping Chan at Fudan University. IDEO Shanghai has been working students their students around sustainability and BOP issues in various workshops using design thinking methodology.



lovely, thanks :)





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