Service design discipline is expanding, and more experts and organizations have been working hard to address human-centered solutions. How service designers and other specialists in this industry actually feel about the service design? How do they foresee its future?

My team conducted a design research project called Honest Service Design to capture their thoughts during the Service Design Global Conference on Oct.2nd -3rd in New York City.






Our goal was to gather quantitative and qualitative insights about the future of service design from the conference guests during the break. We found that experts tend to talk about the positive aspects of the topic on the stage, especially among strangers. But that was not what we want to capture. Instead, we tried to discover the hidden individual emotions about service design. For example, maybe service designers want to change their job, or maybe they are struggling with their clients. To do so, we avoided an in-person touch point in the user journey. My team members needed to operate the research props only in a backstage, so the props should be clear to understand and easy to participate.

Through ideation, we designed three activities(cup poll, bathroom wall, confession booth)and drew a service blueprint to design the user experiences concretely.



Based on the blueprint, we prototyped the activities in a classroom. After testing the ideas, we removed the bathroom wall and focused on two activities.

(prototypes. left: Cup poll / center: bathroom wall / right: confession booth)




  1. Cup Poll

[Day 1]

Because the poll uses the actual coffee cups serving to the guests, we installed right next to the coffee table. It drew their attention; some people left their opinions on the cup. But because of the location, people used a new cup instead of used ones.



The question for the first day was “What is your biggest fear or hope for service design?”.



[Day 2]


We installed the poll in a cafe area near a garbage can. Guests had lunch and disposed of their food and cups in one bin, so it was easy to grab their attentions and give time to participate.


The question for the second day was “What is your biggest joy or frustration for service design?”.




2. Confession Booth

[Day 1]


We designed the confession booth with a pure white fabric. Inside the booth, participants can call the number on a phone given on the table, and leave a voice message. After confessed, they can grab a sticker says “I confessed.”



The booth was located under the staircase of one of the conference venues. It is hard to find; we put a line tape on the floor to lead the conference guests.


[Day 2]


We installed the booth in a cafe area which was a lunch venue for the guests. The location was visible, but people didn’t pay attention to it due to lunch conversations, team members directly encouraged them to participate.







Through the cup poll, we received total 24 answers. (5 Fears & 5 Hopes / 5 Joys & 9 Frustrations ) From the confession booth, we received seven confessions from participants.

Check out the answers here:



We analyzed the answers and extracted keywords.

  • FEAR: Complexity, Commodification, Underperformance
  • HOPE: Capacity, Ubiquity, Value
  • FRUSTRATION: Access, Performance, Form, Fragmentation, Validation, Content, Capacity
  • JOY: Process, Action, Impact

We acknowledged that the participants feel worth to do service design building the outcomes and making impacts, and the actual process is joyful. On the other hand, They pointed out that current service design does not represent genuine user insights, and it tries to change too much. Also, it ‘s hard to sell to clients. Moreover, they feel frustration from absorption with other industries and normative fissure.


Further Analysis

As a class project, the whole classmates and professor Elliott Montgomery produced a two-page report about the future of service design.

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(Please click the image to read the pdf report)