Service Design Master's Course
with UNOPS

Supporting the local community
and future talents

Sony aims to continuously contribute to people, society and the planet
through business operations and extensive social support activities.

For supporting the local community and future talents,
Sony Design Center Europe started a three party collaboration project
with United Nations Office for Project Services, and Lund university, School of Industrial Design,
and facilitated a five-month course within the international master's program in design
where students worked on real-world challenges and designed a solution concept.

Matthias Kierysch,
Senior Designer,
Design Center Europe, Studio Nordic

Moé Takemura,
Senior Producer,
Design Center Europe, Studio Nordic

Thomas Waldner,
Director,
Design Center Europe, Studio Nordic

Introducing service design thinking
to industrial design education

How did the project start, and what is the project focus?

TomThis project started with the goal to engage with the community and contribute to education of future designers back in the spring of 2019. Lund university, one of the oldest universities in Sweden, is located near the Sony Lund offices and we approached them with a proposal to create a challenged-based design course that would be relevant to the future. In the discussion with the teachers at School of Industrial Design, we quickly realized that they were facing a challenge to modernize their educational program and were interested in a collaboration.

MoéWe believe that the desired mindset and skillset for designers are changing as society evolves. With increasing awareness of sustainability, consumers have higher expectations for longevity in products, and have higher interest in repairing and maintaining the products instead of frequently switching to new ones. Many people also prefer to own less but share instead. The question is, how can we sustain business through this societal change? Approaching design with a new perspective and reflecting a new set of expectations from consumers is an important change for designers to address. At the same time, we believe that we need to think about the entire user journey, and more about services and content. Hardware is increasingly a component within a larger product and service package. This means that we, as designers, need to adapt our mindset and skillset. This course focused on challenge-based design thinking, addressing real-world problems, service design and product design in a holistic fashion.

Real-world challenges and SDG thinking
provided by UNOPS

What was your idea behind the involvement of UNOPS?

MoéWhen we decided to set the course focus on solution and service design, we realized that UNOPS would be excellent 3rd partner to bring in their knowledge of real-world problems and challenges.

In February 2020, Sony signed a collaboration agreement with United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in the area of innovation. UNOPS is opening innovation centers around the world, and one of the first ones opened in Lund, Sweden, 10 min walk from our office. Our site was discussing the collaboration setup before headquarters officially signed the contract. We were very excited to broaden our perspective through the collaboration with UNOPS. We realized that the university course was a perfect test project to get to know them and familiarize ourselves with their way of working as well as learning more about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) together with the students.

With this setup, we also had the advantage of being able to provide a real-world challenge to the students. As professional designers, we should not always design things for ourselves, our family and friends, but it is important to be able to design for the people that have completely different life and day to day challenges than our own. With this course set up, the students were given the opportunity to do in-depth research to understand the complexity of the situation and address multiple users and stakeholders in order to create viable solutions and services.

TomThe UNOPS works in the field around the world and has in-depth understanding of issues and challenges facing people and society outside our realm of experience. For the course, they introduced five high-level challenges that students could choose to work on, such as resilient infrastructure, emergency response, access to clean water, waste management, and remote access to services.

(Left) Sustainable Development Goals and design challenge introduction by Sarah Emond, Head of UNOPS Innovation Center, Sweden
(Right) International Master's students and Anna Persson, Director of Master’ s Program, School of Industrial Design, Lund University

(Photo above) Sustainable Development Goals and design challenge introduction by Sarah Emond, Head of UNOPS Innovation Center, Sweden
(Photo below) International Master's students and Anna Persson, Director of Master’ s Program, School of Industrial Design, Lund University

Supporting students to figure things out on their own

How did you set up the course and how did it go?

MoéI believe Swedish higher education approach is quite unique. The school provides considerable freedom but also requires discipline and drive from students. Students are expected to take a big responsibility for their own learning. Teachers are supposed to coach the students along the way and help them to figure things out on their own. If they face challenges, they are supposed to work with classmates and help each other, instead of asking teachers for answers and solutions. Following this principle, we have provided a selected number of introduction lectures, covering SDGs, Service Design, Business Model Canvas, IoT Technologies, and Research and Visualization Techniques in the first week of the course. Then we let the students plan and drive the project on their own. I must admit that this approach was quite challenging for us, but also a learning experience for ourselves. As working professionals, we are used to tighter collaboration with internal stakeholders and strict milestones. We had review meetings and presentations with the students every few weeks, and it has been exciting to follow their journey.

MatthiasHaving myself a background in Industrial Design it is exciting to see the shift and development within design education. Education is one of the most powerful tools we have to make a positive change in the world. Designers naturally have an inner drive to create, change and improve the current status quo. Within this course it became very clear that the students have high ambitions to go far beyond aesthetics, ergonomics and functionality. New skills and mindset will empower future designers to research, co-create and facilitate more than previous generations.

To see the outcome from the different projects from last year,
please click here (link to students' project movies (external link))

Lecture, workshop and individual meeting scenes. For technical questions and discussions, Sony's engineers joined and supported.

Adopting the course plan to meet pandemic restrictions

The first round of Master's course ended last summer. What is happening next?

MoéWe are continuing the collaboration and providing t same course to the Master's students this academic year as well. Due to the pandemic situation, we will be making necessary adjustments, such as more frequent follow-up meetings with the students in order to compensate for the fact that they will be working on the projects from home and providing lectures and review meetings online. We have also improved the course set-up reflecting last year's learnings and we have also limited the number of students who can take this course so that we can provide more intensive mentorship.