amsterdam adventure

Dutch Tulips

The tulip has come too be a much loved symbol of The Netherlands. Much to my delight, Marjo and Arne from DesignThinkers gave me a wonderful parcel full of tulip bulbs to bring back to scotland...a bulb of every colour :) These bulbs will always remind me of the wonderful time I had in Amsterdam and I intend to watch them grow faithfully! My gardening experience is very after some google searching I learned that now is the best time to plant them!

Thank you DesignThinkers :)  Stay tuned to watch the bulbs grow...

Service Design Workshop

Last friday Service Design Network Netherlands gave a hands-on service design workshop at PICNIC08. Arne has posted up some great pics on the DesignThinkers blog. I wish this had been happening during my stay in Amsterdam :(

There has also been an exciting launch of Service Design Network Netherlands. The creatives involved are : Eden Design & Communication, 31Volts, Creative Cities Amsterdam Area, STBY and DesignThinkers

Since June 2008, in monthly informal meetings, Service Design professionals in the Netherlands exchange knowledge and experiences arising from their work in this emerging field.

Several initiatives to widen this network and mutually promote service design in The Netherlands have already emerged. The network has been officially launched during PICNIC'08 in Amsterdam.

Congratulations to Arne who is the Chairman of the collaboration :)

City-inspired story

This is the first time an international story telling commercial has been used to profile a metropolitan area such as Amsterdam. The makers choose to sell 'emotion' rather than 'unique selling points'.

The city is unique in many ways. It has a wonderful blend of creativity, innovation and spirit...

This creation is playful and effective.

Travel Tales

Having been doing lots of traveling lately and thinking about narrowcasting this article was really interesting...definately proves this sector needs design help. "Dublin's bus information system, overhauled last week by Applied Information Group and Image Now, has been criticised in the part for failing to indicate which direction passengers are traveling in. What's the worst informtation system you've experienced, and why?"

Read more here.

"Extremely confusing, woefully inaccurate and often ludicrously positioned. That's my verdict on the wayfinding and informational signage at most British airports." Steve Collis


I was lucky enough to spend some time with the Marc and Marcel from 31 Volts - a service design agency based in Utrecht.

I like to talk about Service Design...lots...this was a great opportunity to see it in action in the real world :) There are lots of interesting projects happening at 31 volts - ranging from tackling obesity in local schools to improving the service of an insurance company.

Since beginning my work in Amsterdam, I have been reading and hearing the word 'tools' very often. This was puzzling me slightly....'what is a tool? Surely, a tool can be any single thing at all?'. Part of my task was to design 'tools' to encourage interaction, to draw information out of stakeholders etc.

Marcel's perspective on what a 'tool' can be to a service designer is interesting:

"A tool is anything that is not a question. They spark conversations..."

This made my thinking much clearer. I also believe it is important to design 'how' tools will be used and 'when' and 'where'.

This is a little tool they designed as a 'leave-behind' for one of their workshops.

The participants take this bottle filled with coffee beans, sugar and syrup, home with them. The writing on the front instructs the owner to shake the bottle once a week for 4 weeks. The mixture will then dissolve into a tasty coffee shot.

It is personal, thoughtful and interactive. The kind of thing you need to provide so participants don't forget about the workshop, and the issues and questions keep ticking over in their mind.

And of course, it is fun :)

Another tool used to bring stakeholders to life. Life sized cardboard cut-outs.

A nice little experiment Marc created:  'One Line of Service Design'

"If you look closely, most people tend to give a definition of service design. But now what are those practical examples you'd give to your grandma (eg. service design makes you walking out of a hospital with a smile?)"

I like this. I created a similar experiment as part of my dissertation research. I sent out postcards asking the question "What is service design?"

I think these are good examples of how to gather opinions and visually display them.

We need tools like this to help us understand ourselves what it is we do.

The team have excellent blog. It is written mostly in Dutch, but lots of interesting links and images for the non-dutch :)

They will also be part of the Picnic Conference and the Service Design Network conference in Amsterdam.


In the very short time I was there I learned particular the challenge all service designers of explainng what they do to other people.

I really liked their studio space, which was in an old school building. The building has lots of creative teams working within it...A great environment!

Thank you for sharing your stories with me and making me welcome!