Dear service design, what are you? | A Festival Story from Michelle Isme

Dear service design, what are you? | A Festival Story from Michelle Isme

Michelle Isme was this year's Social Media Sweetie on the festival team. She attended the Industry Issues event on Day 2 of the festival. Here she shares her reflections and insights as a result of attending the session.

Her perspective is that of a creative person on a journey to find the difference between service design and product management, in order to inform her career direction.

Article reposted with permission. Originally posted on Medium

Partying with limited food waste!

When you organise an event, you often end up with leftovers. You want to make sure your guests are well fed, but what happens when there's too much food?

At the Service Design Fringe Festival, we organised a VIP evening and a Launch Party to kick it off. We ended up with a decent quantity of perishable foods, and it was out of the question to waste any!

Lucky for us, we know a super cool charity, FEAST! WITH US who make meals for adults at risk in homeless shelters, all made from surplus food. They are always looking for volunteers to help in their kitchens, or donate any salvagable surplus. If you fancy learning more about it or coming along, check out or email

Lovely Hannah, the founder of FEAST! WITH US came on her colourful bicycle to pick up everything she could, including vegetables, juices, fruits, flour and sugar. She informs us that this has already contributed to a FEAST! session at a homeless shelter in Kilburn.

lovely hannah.PNG

So, when organising big parties or events, check out the charities/hostels/soup kitchens/groups locally. There are so many in London that will be more than happy to collect your extras! Hopefully this will inspire others to do good by people, and by the environment!



Launch party & podcast launch

Launch party & podcast launch

Today we're halfway through the Service Design Fringe Festival 2017! It's been an incredible, packed week so far. Twitter is the best way to watch how it unfolds if you can't make it in person - we have ambassadors at every event taking photos and tweeting. 

At the party, Service Lab London launched their brand new podcast which has three episodes live already. They record their monthly meetup talks and will make them available through this channel. The festival is collaborating with them so you'll be able to hear select talks from this year's and last year's festival through their podcast. 


Hi, I am NiChun. I'm working as part of this great team as a graphic and website designer. My work list is full of design items, in other words, I design touch points for people who want to join the festival, such as the leaflet you got. At the same time, I work on improving the official website. (I wasn't the one who built this nice website from nothing though!)



I call myself a research designer. I worked in the service design industry for two years before I came to London. Research, for me, is our greatest guide. Without research, designers are left to blindly navigate paths in the dark. 

Currently, I am studying MA interaction design in Goldsmiths College, and I am going to graduate this December - yeah!


I am from Taiwan. And it's great to join the festival to learn more about how the service design industry works in London. An ambitious dream of mine is to one day bring this festival back home and hold it in Taiwan! 


My independent project for my degree show is an exploration of the possibilities of cooking spaces. I welcome input from everyone, so feel free to talk to me about your cooking experiences. For me, I cooked in the toilet for months (!). If you want to know more, feel free to contact me. And also, I am looking for internship opportunities.

You can find out more about me at, which includes some of my past work and CV.

If you'd like to contact me, my email is:

connect me via LinkedIn


Services reimagined for brighter futures: Announcing the 2017 Student Service Design Awards winners

Services reimagined for brighter futures: Announcing the 2017 Student Service Design Awards winners

A service to support migrant sex workers, learning materials to assist people with autism preparing for job interviews, and a system to help those without a fixed address to access crucial services. Announced today, these are this year’s worthy winners of the first-ever Student Service Design Awards, presented by the Service Design Fringe Festival and Arts Thread.

SDFF’S first Co-design Diversity & Inclusion Workshop: Let’s keep the conversation going – there’s so much to learn!


After unanimous nods of agreement from the SDFF team a few months back urged on by Lior (Festival Founder); it was clear that we wanted to make progress in the area of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in the Service Design Industry. And we wanted to use the Festival this year (and forever) to do this.



For us this wasn’t about empty D&I chat. We see diversity and inclusion as a social good that should be embraced by all, especially change makers and designers. And we don’t want to just talk – but do something, maybe even lead by example if we could! We had a few ideas lined up which included shaping our internal D&I principles, but we knew our biggest challenge would be beginning the external engagement needed to feed into our thinking.


So, we did the unthinkable…. drum roll…. we welcomed a diverse bunch of designers to come and design stuff with us! Our focus was on ideas on how the festival could improve our diversity and inclusion - with a focus on ethnicity which was evidently poor at last year’s festival. We also wanted thoughts/ideas for the wider sector. It was a gutsy attempt – but proved worth-while.  


Firstly, people actually turned up (phew). Then after some initial exploring of our understanding of diversity and inclusion, we focused most of our creative energy on small groups creating a party manifesto for the design sector, which addressed pain-points we identified. Each group had to present their manifesto to the group. Great ideas emerged! It was fun. There were commonalities. Healthy tensions. But most importantly, there was rich conversation!


The conversation was the best bit. Individuals opening up about their often-silent views, observations and gripe. It was absolutely fascinating to watch voices emerge on a topic that can be very sticky. And we certainly had a couple of ‘low level’ sticky moments. It was great. Those moments are key. They hold us in a place of uncomfortably. Forcing us to sit with it and work through complexity. We/organisations must get better at sitting with sticky stuff attached to D&I, but not for too long that no action is taken!


It then dawned on me. How often do we put ourselves in a room with different people talking about D&I? For many of us we don’t – and we should. We are and contributed to through conversations. And although some great ideas emerged from the workshop, the value of what we discovered through conversation was the true gem. In fact, the designers wanted more discovery!




Golden insights from the workshop/discussions:

  • We need new and engaging ways of talking about and increasing D&I

  • A key part of addressing challenges around D&I is about sharing privilege

  • How do we prepare the next generation to be better at D&I?

  • Design institutions have a role to play proactively asking themselves and the industry questions about how we play closer attention to D&I.




My facilitator takeaways:

[1] Time: Diversity and inclusion requires time – so don’t be hasty with session outputs. Even if a simple conversation takes place, it’s a useful and powerful starting-point, as well as part of the solution, because we don’t talk about D&I enough which undermines our ability to make positive progress.

[2] Tension between diversity strands: Although there is a broad diversity and inclusion agenda, the individual strands (LGBT, Ethnicity, Gender, Age, Disability, Faith etc) share common characteristics, but also have different challenges which require individual focus. They should never compete against each other, but should be self-aware when separating them out to gain depth and tackle specific challenges.

[3] Diversity and Inclusion are cousins: The relationship between diversity and inclusion is an interesting one. Diversity is about the mix. Inclusion is about getting the mix to work together. Without inclusive environments, diversity will not thrive. But without some diversity, shaping inclusive environments for a diversity can also be a challenge.



Next steps:

A big thank you to those on who attended our first co-design D&I workshop, as we now have even better understanding of where SDFF can add further value. As a starting point, we want to get better at starting and developing the conversation around diversity and inclusion in service design, and will find different ways of doing this through our festival.