ServDes.2020: Tensions / Paradoxes / Plurality


ServDes2020 B+W

RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Conference dates: 6-9th July 2020

As the field of service design matures, questions of the impact of its practices, including a robust evaluation of its methodological gaps, potentials, limitations and claims, become necessary. Being held for the first time outside Europe and in the Asia-Pacific, ServDes.2020 invites you to focus on the three key conference themes – tensions, paradoxes and plurality. We invite you to reflect on the tensions and paradoxes of undertaking service design in contexts of plurality—cultural, economic, historical and environmental—in ways that privilege difference and diversity.

In an increasingly globalised world, the Asia-Pacific region offers a stage for negotiating systems and service complexity. This is a region where ‘design’ is positioned as a key driver for improving the living standards of many, and where its human and environmental capital is pivotal to economies all around the world. It is also a region of paradox and tension—of massive divisions of wealth; of both developed and emerging economies; where climate change is already displacing its peoples; where ancient cultural practices sit alongside emerging ones; where the effects of old colonialisms are still lived; and, new globalised relations offer new opportunities and challenges.

The conference seeks to explore the tensions and paradoxes of negotiating traditional knowledges, cultural practices, and relational obligations in the rapidly changing global landscape. We ask how might service design adapt its approaches to attend to such diversity? What can be learnt from the diversity of local practices and know-how of the region? How might we engage respectfully with Indigenous knowledges? How do collectivist societies see ‘services’ or ‘design’ as means of addressing the pressing concerns of their communities, and does the spectre of the designed service act as a lever to shift old modalities into the new?

We invite participation from you – practitioners and researchers from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond – to share your insights and what you see as critical learnings for ‘service design’, ‘co-design’ or ‘social innovation’ in your areas of work by allowing plurality in these definitions.

Read more for here for further details

ServDes2020 call for submissions

ServDes.2020: Tensions / Paradoxes / Plurality
RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Conference dates: 6-9th July 2020
Service Design Melbourne Slack: #servdes2020

Please go to for more information

ServDes.2020 will be hosted by the School of Design, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. RMIT is a global university of technology, design and enterprise. Nearing its 150th year RMIT is one of Australia’s original tertiary and technical institutions. It enjoys an international reputation for excellence in professional and vocational education, applied research, and engagement with the needs of industry and communities. RMIT is also a world leader in Art and Design; Architecture; Education; Engineering; Development; Computer Science and Information Systems; Business and Management; and Communication and Media Studies. It was recently ranked 1st in Australia and 12th in the world for Art and Design (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018).

Long Papers (Deadline 13th Oct 2019): We invite submission of advanced and high-quality papers of up to 6000 words that address the conference theme and make a substantive contribution as critiques, theorisation or knowledge production in the service design field, with implications for research and practice. Accepted papers will be invited to present as an extended conference session, whereby each paper will be allocated a discussant who prepares a guided discussion for the paper.
Selection will be based on the strongest potential for acceptance for a Special Issue in a high-ranked journal in the fields of design, service marketing or service sciences (tbc) edited by Ingo Karpen, Stefan Holmlid and Carolyn Barnes. Please note, only a limited number of papers can be selected for the Special Issue.
Submissions that are not accepted will be notified in advance with the option to re-write and submit to the Short Paper track.

Short Papers (Deadline 1st Dec 2019): We invite exploratory, speculative, and/or provocative works, including those in progress. The short paper track aims to provide opportunities for lively and respectful discussion. Inspired by the growing endeavours to explore different modes of communicating knowledge and practice, ServDes.2020 invites three ways to submit to the short paper track that addresses the conference themes:

1. Short scholarly paper up to 3000 words;
2. Other-than-Paper media plus an 800-word text that communicates and contributes knowledge in new or particular ways that the chosen media types allow;
3. Practice Notes – an 800-1000 word written piece aimed at a broad audience that asks questions, discusses methods or challenges notions of service design practice. Submission 
to this track may also include mixed media.

Workshops (Deadline 1st Dec 2019): The practice of running workshops is a key aspect of Service Design. Workshops submitted should address one of all the conference themes, which could include a focus on the tensions around developing an ethical practice in corporations and institutions; or the paradoxes at play when contradictory ideas exist simultaneously within the issue/s the workshop aims to address; or how does a workshop generate an experience that validates the plurality for members from diverse backgrounds and experiences? We invite submission in three categories:

1. Embedded workshops (1.5hrs): Proposals that are embedded within a workplace, in the field or at the site of specific service design-oriented projects. These workshops give participants an insight into local practices and working environments. Please note, submissions can be made by visitors from outside Melbourne if they can partner with a local practice.
2. Thematic workshops (1.5hrs): Proposals that explore concepts, theories, processes, frameworks, practices and pragmatics through a smaller workshop format. Venues will be provided but please include specific requirements, such as materials, facilities and technologies in your proposal.
3. Workshopping workshops (1.5hrs): The practice of running ‘workshops’ is evolving but the variety and efficacy of methods remains opaque. This track aims to elevate the methods of ‘the workshop’ itself as the topic to be investigated. The type of workshop, how it functions and reflection on what it is and does, will be the focus of the interaction. Venues will be provided but please include specific requirements, such as materials, facilities and technologies in your proposal.

Student Forum (Deadline 1st Dec 2019): This track invites Undergraduate, Masters and PhD students and recent graduates to a dedicated day of discussions, workshops and networking held during the conference. This forum aims to provide a platform for you to discuss your work, exchange ideas, gain feedback from recent graduates, and to network with experts and emerging practitioners in Service Design, to share examples of work underway or completed and to celebrate excellent work. Please submit a 250-word abstract including an indication of whether you wish to present a poster or a presentation (or both) and how you are addressing one or more of the conference themes. Prizes will be given for best poster and best presentation.

Deadlines for submissions:
13th October 2019: Deadline for Long Papers
1st December 2019: Deadline for Student Forums, Short Papers and Workshops
12th Jan 2020: Conference registration commences
29th Feb 2020: Notification of acceptance with suggestions for revisions
9th March 2020: Deadline for Earlybird registration
30th April 2020: Deadline for revised submissions to all tracks
All submissions will be double-blind peer reviewed and therefore must be anonymous.

For more information please contact:

More details will be made available on the ServDes.2020 conference website

Hosted by the School of Design,
RMIT University, Melbourne Australia


Servdes.2014 archive

The Servdes.2014 conference ran from 9-11 April 2014. Check back later for papers and proceedings.


ServDes2014 explores how Service Design is contributing to ‘Service Futures’ and how it is developing as a field of research and practice. Download the ServDes2014 programme with paper and workshop abstracts.


Find out what's on the schedule and plan your must-see events for days 1, 2 and 3 of ServDes. 2014.

Travel & Accommodation

ServDes2014 will take place at ImaginationLancaster (Lancaster University). Find out how to get here and where you can stay once you've arrived.

Conference organising committee


Daniela Sangiorgi, Chair
David Hands, Co-Chair
Emma Murphy, Co-Chair
Pam Hearne, Administration
Rachel Cooper, Design Journal

Lancaster University Management School:

Katy Mason, Advisor
Martin Spring, Advisor

Servdes. sponsors