• Designing services for the federal garden exhibition Schwäbisch Gmünd 2014

    In January 2012 we were invited to run a service design course at Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) Schwäbisch Gmünd. The challenge to teach 3rd semester product design students the concept behind service design, its user-centered approach and iterative process in one summer semester sounded like a good one, so we naturally said ‘Yes!’. Sharing the gig with Thomas Schönweitz (Whitespring) made us a strong team and lessened the strain on our already tight schedule somewhat, too, so we were looking forward to an interesting couple of months in our new role.

    Teaching service design at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd

    Students doing research on the local farmer’s market to
    better understand customer needs, views and motivations


    As we are all big supporters of experiential learning – or in other words learning by doing – it was beyond question that we would initiate a practical project to work on with the students we would have yet to meet. By talking to Prof. Gerhard Reichert, head of the product design department at HfG, we quickly found our topic-to-be: In 2014 Schwäbisch Gmünd will be hosting the annual federal garden exhibition (Landesgartenschau) – an event held over the better part of a year that celebrates and showcases everything surrounding gardens, gardening, nature and the different kinds of cultural interpretations of it – like parks, playgrounds and so on – in all aspects.

    Teaching service design at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd

    Research data being synthesized into
    key insights and design principles


    Drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors, it is a serious challenge offering excellent service and customer experience that our project was aiming to add some value to. But with the kind of useful and attractive services that usually leave a lasting impression on customers regularly coming out of service design projects, we were confident to get our students to create something special. We established a cooperation with the organising company – the Gmünd2014 GmbH – making sure we had their support in exchange for the concepts our students would develop.

    Teaching service design at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd

    Paper prototypes


    And develop they did! In 11 sessions, each with quick introductions on the respective topic and methods, followed by practical works approaching the actual project steps and an on-location prototyping and user testing trip to the current exhibition in Nagold, our three groups of five drew up their concepts, each working on a different topic: ‘Playful Experience’ – how to make the ‘Landesgartenschau’ more interesting for kids, ‘Food 2.0’ – looking for innovative gastronomical concepts and ‘Landesgartenschau in the rain’ – tackling one of tourism’s oldest challenges, the weather.

    Teaching service design at HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd

    Real-life testing of service ideas at the
    federal garden exhibition 2012 in Nagold


    The project became a great success. We even got the chance for our students to display the results at the Service Design in Tourism Conference 2012 in Innsbruck, while the Gmünd2014 GmbH is contemplating to realize two of the service concepts for the 2014 show.

    Watch on vimeo

    And for us – due to the positive feedback the students gave about us and our course, we have been asked to go on with teaching – so we’ll be there, running the next service design course in the winter semester, as well.

  • Gemeinsam – besser – Ravensburg: Working on a vision for collaboration and integration

    ‘Initiative Ravensburg’ is a joint venture between Ravensburg city council and the local economic forum, effectively acting as the ‘city marketing department’.
    tackle was assigned to help improve the cooperation between the ‘Initiative’ and the small, owner-run retail businesses of the city center, to better adress their specific needs and integrate them more in the development and execution of city marketing activities. Within this scope, we initiated a workshop series branded ‘Gemeinsam – besser – Ravensburg’ working together with business owners and representatives of the city marketing initiative to develop approaches for a more active cooperation between the different stakeholders.

    Gemeinsam - besser - Ravensburg

    Collecting views, emotions, needs
    and anticipations to define the status quo


    In a first workshop defining the status quo, we collected views, emotions, needs and anticipations regarding the current situation of everybody involved. Combining narratives and visualisation, we were able to drill down to a range of challenges, their interconnections and causes, making the current state tangible and workable.
    When analyzing the results, two important patterns emerged – a clear wish of the business owners to better support their collective interests by pulling together and a need for more transparent, direct and open communication about marketing measures planned by the city marketing initiative for more integration in the decision process.

    Gemeinsam - besser - Ravensburg

    Participants developing ideas and concepts
     to approach the perceived challenges


    Following this discovery phase, the next workshop focused on the development of ideas and concepts to work towards sustainable solutions for the perceived challenges.
    Working in two groups, one group came up with a concept for better cooperation and support between the business owners to establish a lobby and create attention with joint projects. The second group combined their ideas to shorten the path communication and cooperation efforts take between Initiative Ravensburg and the business owners and make it more efficient. These approaches will now be further developed and elaborated by small workgroups dedicated to the topic.

    Gemeinsam - besser - Ravensburg

    Presenting the results of a break-out
    session back to the group


    It was great to see how even participants that at first were skeptical about our design-led approach quickly developed trust and a good deal of joy working on the challenges visually and hands-on.