- 15 August 2023
- 6 minutes
The Service Design Master’s at the RCA applies human centred design methods to complex systems. The result is the creation of pragmatic and visionary services. Students are equipped with the tools to prototype new futures and become effective change-makers in the modern world.
From working for the UN to setting up their own businesses, over the last 10 years the Service Design MA at the RCA has been setting students up for success. Read on to discover seven of their stories.
Chuntian Hu (MA Service Design, 2022), Founder/Director, Canal Dream CIC
After graduation from the RCA, Chuntian Hu founded Canal Dream Community Interest Company (CIC). Based on her RCA graduation project, Canal Dream CIC uses the UK's waterways network as a platform for multi-arts activities.
‘Before coming to study Service Design at the RCA, I spent a year working as a project manager on a research project focused on ecology and poverty in the southwestern mountainous regions of China. This experience sparked a strong interest in complex systems and cross-sector collaboration, which led me to pursue studies in Service Design at the RCA.’
“In my understanding, cross-sector collaboration represents the true spirit of service design and is crucial in solving complex social issues.”MA Service Design alumni
‘In my understanding, cross-sector collaboration represents the true spirit of service design and is crucial in solving complex social issues. One of Canal Dream's current goals is to foster a hub for waterway-based innovation and collaboration, connecting the arts and culture department, environmental department, health department, local authority, and research institutions together. In this way, we can achieve our beautiful vision: transforming this former industrial canal into a creative wellbeing space for the future.’
Aditi Soni (MA Service Design, 2021), Service Designer, UNDP
Aditi Soni is a Service Designer with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), working in Europe and Central Asia. She is also Co-Founder of Young Think Tank, who work to increase social innovation and problem solving amongst teenagers.
‘By incorporating the tools and methodologies I acquired through deep immersion in service design, I became the first service designer at the UNDP. Being at the forefront of service design implementation within the organisation has been immensely rewarding. Not only has it enabled me to contribute to the organisation’s exceptional quality of work in the development sector, but it has also allowed me to make a significant impact on the lives of the people we serve.’
“The MA Service Design programme at the RCA has been an invaluable stepping stone, setting me on a path to a fulfilling and impactful career in the field.”MA Service Design alumni
‘The MA Service Design programme at the RCA has been an invaluable stepping stone, setting me on a path to a fulfilling and impactful career in the field. The course equipped me with actionable tools and hands-on methods that I now apply daily in my work. These skills have not only made me more proficient in service design principles but also enhanced my ability to engage with stakeholders, collaborate with diverse professionals, and contribute effectively to large-scale projects at UNDP.’
Marion Ferrec (MA Service Design, 2014), Independent Service Designer
Marion Ferrec is an independent service designer and user researcher. After graduating from the RCA Marion spent six years working at Livework. There, as a senior service designer, she worked with clients including J.P.Morgan, Tesco, Public Health England, Mastercard, E.ON and Zurich.
‘I'm so proud of all the amazing designers I have led, mentored, managed or coached throughout my career. Supporting their growth, and helping them gain confidence, find and own their voices as designers is one of the most meaningful things I've ever done.’
‘I joined the Service Design MA programme as soon as it opened! Service Design seemed the ideal path for me to use my product design skills but in a context that made more sense to me. I was also very keen on learning with people from all over the world and varied backgrounds.’
“At the RCA I gained structure in approaching any design or research activity. I built an outcome-oriented perspective that still helps me navigate any project today.”MA Service Design alumni
‘At the RCA I gained structure in approaching any design or research activity. I built an outcome-oriented perspective that still helps me navigate any project today. I developed a critical understanding of service design, its theories, tools and processes. I lean on these foundations to define how to best approach any challenge and confidently establish a course of action.’
Ella Walding (MA Service Design, 2017) Head of Service Design, Innovation Unit
After graduating in 2017, Ella Walding took on the role as Head of Service Design at Innovation Unit, a social enterprise centred around improving public services. Ella is currently leading work to scale Living Well Systems for better mental health across the UK.
‘For me, the real power of design is when it is used to grow movements of social change. Designers can often be perceived as people who develop shiny new solutions, but the real work is constantly growing and remaking the conditions that make solutions stick. The work I find most energising is growing design communities who drive forward change and sustain the ongoing improvement of services and systems.’
“For me, the real power of design is when it is used to grow movements of social change.”MA Service Design alumni
‘Design is something that anyone can understand and apply to make change. Designers work best when they train others in design processes, so that people can create changes in their worlds after we're gone. This is why I have recently set up the Innovation Unit Design Academy, with my colleague Aviv Katz, to provide high level design skills, confidence and experience for professionals working in social innovation and public service transformation.’
Kristof van der Fluit (MA Service Design, 2021) Service Designer, Deloitte Digital
After achieving a Design Engineering (MEng) from Imperial College London, Kristof van der Fluit joined the MA Service Design programme at the RCA. He is now a Service Designer at Deloitte Digital, working for clients including the UK Cabinet Office.
‘The MA Service Design programme has instilled in me an inherent design-response throughout my early career; not only to ask questions and carefully listen, but to feel agency in the creative act of building, discovering, negotiating and shaping. During my years on the programme I felt an overwhelming sense of social responsibility, optimism and inspiration from Clive Grinyer, my tutors and fellow designers.’
“Taking my learnings from the RCA I am able to step back and think how technology relates to individual existing experiences with public services.”MA Service Design alumni
‘As a professional service designer working with the UK’s Cabinet Office, I have been exploring the role of digital identity for the UK. Taking my learnings from the RCA I am able to step back and think how technology relates to individual existing experiences with public services. Taking care of our common values that align us and finding realistic ways to inclusively design for millions of people who find themselves in a plethora of spaces and oftentimes fragile situations. This is where I rely on the foundations of the programme and find confidence to care for the bigger picture.’
Amit Kalra (MA Service Design, 2017) Visiting Assistant Professor, Pratt Institute
Before coming to the RCA Amit Kalra studied BA Philosophy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. During his time at the College he looked at preventative health through fitness. He is now a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute.
“Working alongside artists and designers was a profound and transformational experience.”MA Service Design alumni
‘Studying MA Service Design provided me with exposure to the best practitioners in the field while providing a foundation for further development and practice. One of my favourite things was seeing how my peers were interpreting and implementing the methods that were taught during critiques. In addition to the programme, the RCA’s interdisciplinary approach was a big draw. Working alongside artists and designers was a profound and transformational experience. My advice to incoming and current students is not to waste a second!’
Gabriella Mas (MA Service Design, 2022), Founder, (re)boot
Gabriella Mas is the founder of startup (re)boot, which partners with professional sports teams to reduce waste. (Re)boot sorts, logs, and tracks secondhand equipment and apparel from equipment rooms and repurposes them into newly designed products.
‘Studying at the RCA was an invaluable experience. The access to established corporations and incredibly talented alumni allowed me to insert myself into the broader world of design and learn from them firsthand. The RCA provided me with the opportunity to not only grow into myself as a designer, but learn how to apply design practices in reality; the practice of bringing an idea to life.’
“The RCA provided me with the opportunity to not only grow into myself as a designer, but learn how to apply design practices in reality; the practice of bringing an idea to life.”MA Service Design alumni
‘In my day to day, I lean on a lot of methods and advice that I picked up during my time on campus, specifically self-trust. I never realised how important it was to flex this muscle; the muscle of trusting yourself as a designer, and trusting your work.’
‘The faculty, cohort, and network that the RCA gifted me with, is a testament to this “freedom” that I felt in becoming a service designer. Bringing together students from different backgrounds and professions, the RCA equipped us with a strong foundation to interpret service design in our own way, making it uniquely ours. And now we can share it with the world.’