Interaction Design vs Service Design

The InfoDesign blog points to a great paper from last year’s Design Inquiries conference in Stockholm on the intersection of design disciplines: Interaction Design and Service Design: Expanding a Comparison of Design Disciplines [PDF 432K]. Author Stefan Holmlid looks at interaction design, industrial design and service design through several frameworks, one of which is Buchanan’s four orders of design.

Holmlid compares the following dimensions:

  • Production process [physical, virtual, ongoing]
  • Materiality [tangible, virtual]
  • Dimensionality [spatial, temporal, social]
  • Aesthetic focus [visual, experiential, active]
  • Scope of deliverable [product, use, performance]

Rather than focusing on the divisions between sub-disciplines, Holmlid’s approach explores the ways in which they overlap and relate; their areas of interest; their strengths and weaknesses. He sees service design and interaction design as integrating disciplines across the orders of design.

[via InfoDesign]


  1. Anders

    That should be Stefan Holmlid

  2. Jeff

    Thanks for the catch. Fixed!

  3. hugh

    Like the article’s structure and the means with which it analyzes differences between disciplines.

    However I have to disagree with their definition of service design first off. It is incomplete.
    Service design, nor design itself, is not, and never should be, confined to methodologies. Certainly not methodologies of user-centered design. See this great map of the design research environment globally by Elizabeth Sanders:
    http://www.masternewmedia.org/interface_and_navigation_design/design-research/state-of-design-research-from-market-driven-era-to-user-centered-innovation-MakeTools-Liz-Sanders-20071019.htm

  4. hugh

    …wait that should be ‘methodologies and principles’ and ‘human/user centered’.
    I heard design referred to as anti-disciplinarian which i think is a great definition, especially in this modern era of design where it is starting to become less self-aggrandizing (professionals with the next great methodology to maximise innovation for your shareholders) and more about enriching experience in a posthumanist world




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