From Product to Service Design: A Thinking Paradigm Shift

Carlos Peralta, Liliana Rodriguez

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Society, industry and the economy are all experiencing changes caused by a shift from products to services. While a “problem-solving” approach is commonly used for the development of products, new design approaches are needed as the primary unit of exchange moves from goods to services. This research argues that a fundamental transformation in the design world is taking place, manifested in a thinking paradigm shift from problem solving (designing products) towards systems thinking (designing services). This paper draws on design literature to identify concepts of systems thinking and problem solving to help understand core elements in the shift from product to service design. It also reports on a series of semi-structured interviews with designers working in five design consultancies that have moved from product design to services design. The results show a change in the way designers think and approach projects when facing the challenges of designing services, confirming a movement from problem solving to systems thinking. However, systems thinking is not replacing problem solving but complementing it. The results also indicate that the growing complexity of the issues designers deal with influences the adoption of systems thinking in responding to service design challenges, as well as current changes in people’s ideas about sustainability and society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1
    Pages (from-to)1-27
    Number of pages27
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2014


    • Service design
    • product design
    • system thinking
    • paradigm shift
    • innovation
    • problem solving
    • Design


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