Building a community of interest & practice in Service Design.

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In the lead up to SDNOW4 we’re collaborating on a series of monthly events with the conference team – going back to past venues to give emerging speakers and organisations a place to share their stories.

The format is: six short talks, 20 minutes each, open to the public.

The September edition will be held at the RMIT Design Hub, with the following lineup

This will be followed by discussion and drinks at The Lincoln, 91 Cardigan Street, Carlton.


Send the conference team an email at, they’re happy to chat about anything that’s on your mind. They’ve also covered a number of regularly asked questions on their website.

SDNOW is an Asia-Pacific conference about design, strategy, ethics, and futures, hosted in 2019 by RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

Together we’re pushing the boundaries of Service Design, Strategic Design, Speculative Design, and other emerging practices – with speakers, facilitators, and artists bringing subversive thinking, new paradigms, and critical approaches that define how these practices grow.


The program is made up of speakers, facilitators, and artists who are responding to the shifts, problem spaces, and discourses playing out across our communities – themes they’ve brought together as: Ethical Practice, Capable Business, Designing Designers, Subversive Design, and Future Places.

There are conference talks, break-out sessions, exhibitions, performances, and social events throughout the conference week, with space to pop in and out of the parts which are useful to you.

Speakers, facilitators, and artists include:


The 2019 conference is being hosted by RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. A leading global design university, RMIT is located in the Melbourne CBD and is easily accessible by public transport, bike, or walking.

Most sessions will be in Storey Hall, a 460-seat conference space with accessible entries, lifts, bathrooms, and clear viewing spaces for all attendees.

For more on accommodation, transport, and visiting Melbourne, take a look at their location details.


They’re purpose and experience-led, because these are mutually uplifting things, with practices that respond (in small ways) to societal challenges around systemic inequity and the age of the Anthropocene.


Send the conference team an email at, they’re happy to chat about anything that’s on your mind. They’ve also covered a number of regularly asked questions on their website.

SDNOW is a two-day conference about Service Design, strategy, ethics, and leadership.

Day One: Conference Talks @ Fed Square

Day One will be a series of talks and panels by a diverse group of practitioners (global and local) from across: industry, academia, consultancies, and startups.
There’ll also be a good amount of time set aside for connecting with peers, coffee, lunch, drinks, and catching up with friends old and new.
We’ll be based in Deakin Edge for the day, a light filled theatre in the middle of Fed Square.

Speakers include:
• Sarah Drummond (UK) – Co-founder & Managing Director, Snook
• Leisa Reichelt – Head of Research and Insights, Atlassian
• Seb Chan – Chief Experience Officer, ACMI
• John Ravitch (USA) – Founding Partner, IDEO San Francisco
• Safa Almarhoun – Practice Manager, CQ/Today
• Louise Long – Service Design Director, Today
• Yoko Akama – Associate Professor, RMIT University
• Ash Alluri – Principal Social Innovator, TASCI
• Sasha Abram – Design Lead, First Australians Capital
• Penny Hagen (NZ) – Co-Design Lead, Auckland Co-Design Lab
• Caroline Sanz – Lead Strategic Designer, Isobar
• Donna Spencer – Lead Consultant, Readify
• Jo Szczepanska – Consumer Experience and Codesign Consultant, Dental Health Services Victoria

Day Two: Service Design Open House @ studios across Melbourne

Day Two will be our first Service Design Open House – with studios across Melbourne opening their doors and offering workshops with their practitioners. This is a chance to take a peek inside their spaces, get some insight into how they differentiate themselves, and learn something new from the people who work there day-to-day.
There will be a morning and an afternoon session, so everyone will get to visit two locations. Online registration for these sessions will be sent out to conference attendees the week before the conference. At the end of the day we’ll all come together at Starward to share our experiences (and celebrate the end of the year).
Participating studios include (with more being announced soon):
• Paper Giant
• Today
• Medibank
• Meld Studios
• Portable
• Isobar .


For any questions read our FAQs at or send us an email at


Service Design Now is a one-day conference packed with front-line stories about Service Design in Melbourne.

With the massive growth of the community over the past few years, there is the perception that Service Design has reached a level of maturity in Australia. This has led to new discourses and discussions around the direction the field has been heading.

Responding to this, we’ve invited speakers from across academia, startups and the enterprise to go beyond the ‘show and tell’ – diving into the challenges we face in our practice through a broad spread of conference presentations, workshops, discussion groups and more.

These speakers have been asked to share their “War Stories” – the kind of stories told in the pub at the end of the week, rather than what you would usually hear at a conference or read about online.

It’s a day to celebrate the growth of the community in Melbourne and a place for us all to share and speculate how it might evolve from here.

Visit for more details.


The following speakers are currently confirmed, we’ll be adding more as we get closer to the date:

Harriet Wakelam
Director of HCD – IAG
Is our design lacking rigour?

Miles Menegon
Head of HCD – Heath Wallace
Design artefacts need fixing

Stefanie Di Russo
Strategic Designer – Deloitte
Are we designers or just facilitators?

Gerda Gemser
Professor – RMIT University

Adam Jacoby & Jamie Skella
Founders – MiVote
Digitally disrupting democracy

George McEnroe
CEO – Shebah
Taking on Uber with Ethics

Jessie Hochberg
Founder – Nightingale Housing
Housing development as a scalable and ethical service

Owen Hodda
Service Design Lead – ANZ
Scaling design without diluting the practice

Lisa Leong & Tristan Forrester
CEO & CSO – Ohten APAC
Service Design for legal practice

Jeremy Yuille
Principal – Meld Studios
From academia to practice

Kelsey Schwinn
General Manager – Today
Scaling for purpose design

Brenden Carriker
CityLab Lead – City of Melbourne
Service Design & the city

Matiu Bush
Innovator-in-residence – Bolton Clarke
Putting patients at the centre of healthcare


All conference tickets are priced at $99, with 170 tickets available. This price has been set to cover the cost of running an event of this scale rather than trying to make a profit.

Tickets include access to:
• Main conference presentations
• Workshops and discussion groups
• Pre-conference event (Hosted by Fjord)
• Conference after party
• Conference tote bag
• Conference lunch and coffee cart


Our generous sponsors include:
RMIT University – Venue Sponsor
Fjord – Pre-conference Event Sponsor
Rosenfeld Media – Book Sponsor

This month the Service Design chat will be on a Wednesday, hosted by Symplicit at their Melbourne Office. Expect the night to be thick with conversation as we collectively discuss four aspects of our practice and industry in the Symplicit Service Design Salon.

The night is aimed at a more participatory framework, away from the single presentation or panel evenings. The night will revolve around structured rotating discussions, each group talking through:

Process – How do we do what we do
Education – How do we know what we know
Ethics – How do we do the right thing
Future – How will we do what we do

Each table and topic will be facilitated by a member of the Symplicit team, your conversation croupiers for the night. The evening will be hosted by Daniel Neville and Marnie Crooks, and we’re hoping for a mix of light and heavy dialogue between all members of the community.

6:00 – 6:30 – Drinks and networking and snacks
6:30 – 7:30 – Rotating discussion groups
7:30 – 8:00 – More drinking, more networking, more snacking

We’ll head to Sun Moth afterwards for any and all who want to continue with the civilité

For this month’s Third Thursday service design event, we invite you to visit PaperGiant, where we’ll be discussing topics close to the heart of many designers – how can we be good design citizens? And how do we know we’re making a difference?

The Ethics of Design

Many designers enter the industry for altruistic reasons – they want to do good work, and make a difference. Beyond choosing an industry or organisation that aligns with our personal values, what does it mean to be an ethical designer?

Our panel will discuss the following questions:
What does it mean to do ethical work?
What do we need to be aware of so that we can better talk on behalf of others?
What compromises are we willing to make, and why?

The Panelists

Associate Professor Yoko Akama, RMIT University.
Kate Goodwin, Experience Design & Strategy Lead, PaperGiant.
Matiu Bush, Healthcare Innovator and Design Integration Lead, RSL Care.

The Night

6:00 – 6:30 – Welcome Drinks
6:30 – 7:15 – Panel Discussion
7:15 – 8:00 – Drinks & Networking
8:00 onwards – Dumplings on Flinders Lane

Drinks and nibbles will be provided.

Read more about the event here on PaperGiant’s website:

The July Design & Ethics event was hosted by Dr Zaana Howard who chose Dan Hill’s Dark Matter and Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary to frame our discussion. The metaphor, ‘Dark Matter’, resonated with many who acknowledged this operating in their work and recognised how design needs to work within it, instead of fulfilling stereotypical expectation to ‘put lipstick on the pig’. As strategic and service designers, there was a sense that we needed to be ethical custodians to question why, and not just how and what is designed.

This catalysed a complex discussion. Several notable points of contestation emerged regarding the value of the strategic designer. Are strategic designers capable and mature enough to have a ‘seat at the table’, not just to solve problems but to explore the ‘dark matter’ and context? This ‘table’ was quickly recognised as ‘executives’ with ‘authority’ but also often constructed by ‘white, heteronormative anglo males’, which is common in most Western businesses. This trend is increasing, globally. So what does facilitating ‘shared understanding’ and ‘collective decision-making’ mean in this context? This question seemed more acute for consultants who are hired to perform expected roles and deliver on outcomes. What can enable their agency? Is the consultancy model truly ‘broken?’

We acknowledged that all organisations have ‘value systems’ that then manifest through their products and services, but how are such values aligned and enacted? How do one’s values or perspective ‘fit theirs’ or other people’s? Do we truly know our own values and assumptions, anyway? Here, some noted how, like a fish swimming in water, one’s values are invisible or taken for granted until difference or friction is encountered. Also, designers can lack reflexivity, which was also lamented as a major obstacle in understanding that nothing is ‘objective’ but that our own perspectives are always at best partial, and are a subjective interpretation of a story. There are at times judgements made that our own values are ‘better’ or more ‘right’ than others which impacts how we behave and design. Greater awareness of our boundaries and positioning seemed to be called upon, beyond remaining ‘open’ in order to objectively design.

We’re on for another 3rd Thursday Service Design chat. This time it’s our privilege to be hosted by SapientRazorfish at their Southbank studio. As usual, we will have a panel to give fuel to the general networking, community building and chatting with refreshments. Oh, and it is Christmas in July themed, so wear your best christmas winter sweater.

As service design as a profession matures, it is more important than ever that we deliver impact at scale. Although as a community, we have observed that more often than not, the deliverables of service design never become ‘real’… meaning they never extend beyond journey maps and powerpoint decks. Sound familiar?
Which brings us to the theme for the evening…
If service design is failing to deliver tangible and measurable outcomes to market, with reports suggesting most projects never come to fruition, does this mean we are failing as an industry?
Why does this happen?
What could service designers do differently to get to impact?
How do we overcome this? and what does this mean to the future of the industry?
What value are we delivering? Are we delivering value? What is the cause of this?
How do we measure the intangible impact we’re having?

Join us for a robust discussion led by our panel:
Olga Cuesta – Head of Customer Experience & Design @ Medibank
Philip Phelan – Head of Strategy & Consulting @ SapientRazorfish
Stefan Schroeder – Experience Design Manager @ SapientRazorfish
Paul Taylor, Executive Creative Director at SapientRazorfish will be our MC and facilitator for the evening.
We will keep the panel short, with plenty of time for chats, refreshments and some nibbleys.
For those working parents, we welcome and encourage you to bring your kids along. Looking forward to seeing you – It’ll be fun.

We’re on again for another 3rd Thursday Service Design chat. This time it’s our privilege to be hosted by NAB Labs and Digital. As usual we will have presentations to give fuel to the general networking, community building and chatting with refreshments.
There will be 3 speakers for the night to cover the breadth of Service and Human-Centred Design at nab.

Joseph Barker from NAB Labs and the NAB HCD team will be talking about the evolution of nab labs. Many organisations have tried recently to create innovation labs, and nobody has done it without lessons. Joseph will share some of nab’s.

Next up is Stuart Partridge, Principal Designer for nab’s customer journey transformation. In this mammoth effort Stu is responsible for setting the overall design direction and quality. He’s right in the thick of it and will share his lessons, wins and as yet unanswered questions.

We end with Ben May from NAB Digital and the Mobile App, who will be talking about designing for financial betterness and helping people to make better financial decisions. Ben will talk about how nab is trying to apply this, and the challenges of moving what is usually a human service into a digital product.

Tristan Cooke, Service Design Melbourne committee member and NAB product and service innovation guy, will do some hosting and MC duties… mainly to keep the talks fast, so there is plenty of time for the provided refreshments and chats.

Come along.

It’ll be fun.

Community work spaces are relatively common in the day and age of startups, but when they got started, One Roof saw the need for a space specifically targeting women entrepreneurs, founders and CEOs. A membership-based community, One Roof is home to 70 businesses across a range of industries including tech, gaming, health, education, fashion and finance. More than a co-working space, the founders wanted to create an entire ecosystem, providing everything a female entrepreneur needs to thrive under one roof.

SDM committee member Julia Birks will be facilitating a discussion with the team from One Roof, including co-founder Sheree Rubenstein and events and BD guru Maria Fernandez. Hear about how they designed the One Roof service over time, as well as failures, successes, and other key moments they’ve been through to get to where they are now. We’ll also have some cameos by One Roof founders, to hear their experiences as users of the service. Following the panel, we’ll move down the road to Hopscotch Urban Beer Bar for some drinks and discussion

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