What is clear right away is that service design is a choral project. This becomes abundantly clear when visiting the Milan offices of Design Group Italia with Edgardo Angelini, Managing Director and Partner, along 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 and cozy space in the inner courtyard of a “casa di ringhiera”, a building with a common balcony typical of the region. With seventy-five professionals, offices in New York and Reykjavik and areas of activity ranging from product design to brand and packaging design and from graphics to digital design, Design Group Italia breaks with the classic canons from 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, 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 constructed to represent the requirements of the different actors involved in each project, in terms of spaces, applications and process phases. Then there is the “design kitchen”, a multipurpose space containing a small stage, tables, chairs, screens and, on one side, a real kitchen. This is the workshop where studio members ‘cook up new ideas’; and organize their design thinking sessions, using a participatory working method that has everything to gain from service design, given the complexity inherent in the discipline.
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 enjoyed worldwide success. The studio has never betrayed its mission of innovation, interpreted over the past decade with the introduction of digital design and service design. “These two areas are linked”, explains Angelini, “even if they are separated in our studio. Service design is very often applied to digital design, but it’s more than that.” Lidia Tralli, Director of Service Design, goes into detail. “Service design is an extension of interaction design: the principles of human-machine interaction are taken to a higher level. Service design examines experiences from a macro perspective, considering the interaction with all the touchpoints a user may have with a given entity or offering. Service design orchestrates several different elements and considers them all as a whole to create the best possible experience,” whether it’s buying a new couch, doing banking, or getting medical treatment, at the hospital or via a teleconsultation. .
There is one thing that is unique about a designer working on the design of a service: “The person is always at the center of the design”, emphasizes Angelini; “The designer always thinks about the person and the user experience. The objective of service design is to solve the problem of the relationship between a physical or digital artefact or service and the person who uses it, to ensure that this relationship is of interest not only functionally, but above all in terms of emotions and service. provided.”
To effectively build a service experience, it is essential to listen: to users, and operators, to establish a map and understand which methods and connections to work on. “We work alongside the operators,” continues Tralli, “watching them work, observing the spaces and the tools they use. Every aspect is involved in this mapping process, even the way they answer the phone or the wait time involved. Creative Director Chris Miller describes an 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 offered. Their goal was to transform the shopping experience, which sometimes takes several months, with the help of an architect, into something truly memorable. We started from the physical store, while creating a digital environment that would maintain points of connection with customers over time. After the customer’s first visit to the store, a digital book is produced, which the customer can consult, in which all the customer’s preferences are recorded. When it comes time to make a decision, there is a software room in the store, where customers can digitally configure all possible options and find out how much they would cost. Service design builds an enjoyable experience around a purchase decision, exploring all possibilities and placing the customer at the center of the entire process. This method can be successfully applied to interactions of any kind, including utilities, 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, Sharja (UAE), FabLab, VR Learning design. Design Group Italia designed a series of experiences and phygital 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 Compasso d’Oro 2020.
06 and 07 Blue Lagoon Iceland: new concept for the spa and shopping experience in the flagship store
12 Concept map of an experiential space (Design Group Italia)
13 The 3M Custom Innovation Center (Italy) designed by Design Group Italia
14-16 Edgardo Angelini, managing director and partner of Design Group Italia;
Lidia Tralli, director of service design;
Chris Miller, creative director.