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Refashioning Service Design. Designing for popular cultural service experience

Services are becoming ever more present in our everyday lives and cultural lifestyles, enabling new practices and shaping new values. In the entanglement of people, experiences, interactions, products, technology and media that shape services, meaning is circulated, and culture formed. This thesis explores a gap between Service Design and concepts from popular culture by inquiring how novel services can be shaped through the uptake and translation of cultural phenomena. It further explores the cultural influence such services have through shaping dynamic relationships between use, production, mediatization and consumption of cultural material and meaning, and circulation of symbolic value.

This thesis introduces Trendslation, an experiential Service Design approach that operationalizes a triple-staged semantic transformation of trends, to assist the service designer in designing for experiential services that are culturally informed and enacted. This contribution frames services in consumer and lifestyle domains as popular cultural constructs in the way that they offer mediatized interactions and experiences that are influential in the cultural interplay of meanings, materials and practices. This thesis further contributes with the practical tool of the experience-centric service journey, as a visual narrative and mapping of the flows of meaning that come into play across touchpoints and interactions over time. In light of this service-cultural view the notion of the cultural intermediary is applied as a framework to further unpack how Service Design, and the service designer, may more fully adopt and enact a cultural role in shaping experiential service offerings and details. This contributes to the field and practice of Service Design by highlighting the service designer as a cultural intermediary.

The work in this thesis is situated within a commercial business context, where three design explorations have been carried out through the application of an overall qualitative and open-ended Research through Design methodology, in collaboration with three major national and global brands in the areas of food and fashion apparel. Moving between practice and research, and qualitative methods and design techniques, the modes and mechanisms of meaning-construction in a Service Design view have been explored by designing trend-driven and conceptual service design artefacts. The design-led research explorations have further revealed connections between perspectives from Service Design and concepts from Popular Culture that are framed through six new concepts and a model, that jointly offer a positioning of Popular Cultural Service Design, and can be seen as an overall contribution to the field.

Dennington, C.(2021). Refashioning Service Design. Designing for popular cultural service experience. AHO Available: https://aho.brage.unit.no/aho-xmlui/handle/11250/2739283