2.9 Five important Service Design dates

You know now that Service Design isn’t alone in the innovation family. Nevertheless, this field has a few historic events. I have selected 5 dates that mark the evolution of Service Design from an idea that marketers use to a worldwide field used by thousands.

1982: The birth of the Service Design term

If there is one date you should know if you have a passion for Service Design, it’s this: 1982.
In 1982, the term Service Design was first coined by Lynn Shostack.

At that time, Service Design was a notion that focused on the work of the marketing department, as Lynn was a marketing professional in the bank industry.

1991: Service Design as a discipline

In 1991, Service Design started to be a real discipline of study, not solely practiced by marketing nerds. This started at the Köln International School of Design with Prof. Dr. Michael Erlhoff. He proposed that service design is considered a design discipline and created a network of people and universities, which would be involved in that discipline.

So, in a way, we can say that since 1991, Service Design is recognized by the academic world as a serious discipline.

2001: The first Service Design consultancy

In 2001, the first consultancy focused on Service Design was created. Liveworks Studio opened in London. Today, the company has over 40 people on board and is still a reference and key player in the industry.

2004: The Service Design Network is born

In 2004, the Köln International School of Design, with the help of Carnegie Mellon University, Linköpings Universitet, Politecnico di Milano, and Domus Academy, created the International Service Design Network. Today, this network has over 1300 members and over 100 member organizations listed on its website. This organization is responsible for the International Service Design Conference and the Service Design Accreditation.
So, we can say that since 2004, Service Design morphed from a tiny discipline used by a few crazy academics to a worldwide movement.

2016: Service Design Day

2016 is the last of these symbolically important dates. It was the year when Service Design Day was celebrated for the first time. There now exists an official day to celebrate Service Design: the first of June. This day of celebration was created by the Service Design Network in 2016. On this day, service designers worldwide try to show their love and passion for the field, especially on social networks.

What these five dates show us, is that in about 20 years, Service Design became a worldwide movement; today, it is already a pretty grown-up discipline.