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Behind The



Behind the scenes of ServDes.2020 engaged students in exploring and creating services and experiences to explore conferences themes Tensions, Paradoxes and Plurality. RMIT School of Design Students from Second and Third year Communication Design Studios and the Master of Communication Design participated as Work Integrated Learning. These propositions are still under development but here are some previews of the thinking and ideation for the conference experience.

Food Experience and Sustainability

Considering that food makes up 37% of the Victorian Footprint, having a sustainable food experience was an important factor to consider when organising the ServDes2020 conference. Not only to reduce the environmental effect of conducting the conference, but also to educate attendees and start conversation surrounding the idea of a sustainable future.

The ServDes2020 food experience was explored by two groups who aimed to deliver a new food service experience that gave attendees the opportunity to learn about sustainability, the Australian culture and further engage in the themes of the conference: tensions, paradoxes and plurality.

As part of the research, interviews were conducted among professionals to get insight on their personal experiences in conferences and the food experience they’ve had before. Information from these interviews were used to create the expectation maps to ensure that the maps were done with realistic expectations from users. Experience mapping was also a research method used by this team to develop the research for their proposal.

After much research, brainstorming, prototyping and testing, they proposed a grazing table as an option to give a superior food experience for ServDes 2020. The proposed 100% vegetarian grazing table would showcase a variety of food rich in properties. It was chosen because it allowed for easy catering, management and sticks to the ideals of the conference.

Having the table allows for minimal waste, and only crockery would need to be washed, which also lead to the proposal of a possible washing station where attendees can clean their own dishes.

They also proposed a fusion bar where attendees have the option to make their own food and people are able to control how much food they take and create less food waste. The goal for the fusion bar was to provide different cuisines each day, mixing different cultures together and providing bigger meal portions. The fusion bar acts as an interactive experience for the attendees to make and create their own meals from a wide selection of ingredients.

These self-serve type of food delivery aim to be more efficient and boost socialization between attendees. Through these proposals they also considered way to support local food businesses and food producers, especially those who work towards causes for the community.


Thank you Juan Sanin from the ServDes committee for joining us today.

Q: There have been lots of studios, classes and workshops for students in preparation for ServeDes2020. What were the most interesting workshops you can remember?

Juan Sanin: I’ve been involved in the ServDes conference in food experiences and catering. I was in classes, in the design studio classes, but I didn’t go to any workshops. I think it was very interesting to spend time with students. I found that students take very interesting approaches in their food experiences. I think students approached the topic of food and catering service as a more holistic experience. They started with the providers, the companies that were in charge of providing food and they took the whole user journey into account. They also had ideas and proposed different strategies starting with the providers but also different topics around a food and like food presentation or engaging participants in preparing their own food and conversations about food. They also had very interesting ideas around participants cleaning up after food was served. They came up with solutions to use food waste in different ways. One of them was creating compost, so composting food waste. And students also created an interesting relationship between Melbourne as a city and the places where food that was served at the conference came from. I think that was very interesting.

Q: Were there any interesting proposals by students from these classes?

Juan Sanin: Students proposed something very interesting around different food for each day. They wanted the first day food topic to be for individual cultures. The second day was more about European migration and the third day was more like migration for Middle East, African countries. And the fourth day the topic was Australian food, but it wasn’t like Australians food it was like, the idea was to show how Australian food is a combination of many different cultures – multicultural, European immigrants, immigrants from other countries like Asia. Now I remember that there was something very interesting about Asian food. I can’t remember if the students were originally from Taiwan or mainland China, but they told me about these weird food that are like a combination of American fast food with Asian food and they had all these names for them. I don’t remember but it was very very interesting. It was like a sushi roll combined with a hotdog, and there was a name for that. But the idea was to engage participants in that sort of food game and food combinations. Sadly, I forgot the examples, but they had really good examples and propositions for participants. And they thought that the topic was Australian food they want they want the meatless barbeque - a vegetarian barbeque. This was an interesting proposition in the context of Australian. However, when we tried to put those things into real life practice, it was very complicated. I mean those things are not impossible, they were actually really good ideas for a restaurant, or a small event. But because it is a conference with the initial expectations of around 400 people would attend, it was very complicated to put the students ideas into practice. At the end we ended up getting more traditional food providers.



Thank you Juan Sanin from the ServDes committee for joining us today.

Q:  Being involved in organising this conference, what are the things that you would like to be showcased to participants about the behind the scenes?

Juan Sanin: I think how Yoko has used the conference as a platform for facilitating learning experiences, it’s been very interesting. It is an opportunity for students to learn about Service Design and many different topics related to design, communication design, service design, etc. It is also been a great opportunity for different staff members to interact with students. For example, I work in industrial design but I never had any contact with communication design students so its been great to go and visit the classes, have a chat with students, I think that’s something that’s really good.



Thank you Tarun Devaraj from the Lanyard group for joining us to discuss about the progress of their project.

Q: Why do you think that lanyards are important to a conference experience?


Tarun Devaraj: This is something that I asked myself and we also asked this question within our group. We were wondering why do we still use lanyard when everything is moving towards digital? Why do we need to carry something around our neck? Then slowly we realise it is an ultimate approach. The problems we see is what if I’m walking or what if I’m eating or what if I’m walking into the room with coffee on my hand? What happens then, how do we identify someone without taking out our phone? So we realise it (the lanyard) is a very straight forward system that although you can do without it but it will cause a little more work for people who attend (the conference). Also, lanyard is something that helps participants to have enough information so they won’t need to reach out or wonder where this information is? Where have I placed it? Is it in my pocket or is it in my bag? I can't remember where I kept it! Therefore, we design so that it hangs around your neck and the design is made to be quite light so you won't feel like you have something hanging around your neck. Overall, yeah I think it's easy to have a lanyard for the conference.


Q: Can you please explain the process of designing the lanyard and things that have been taken into consideration?

Tarun Devaraj: The strap we have for the lanyard is a great edition to the lanyard. From previous students, the strap design was mentioned somewhere on the last page next to the acknowledge of country that it is made by so and so. We thought that when a person receives this lanyard and they see the particular type of design on the strap, their immediate reaction would be why have I received this? What is this…since it looks unlike any other lanyards I have received before. We thought we could give this information upfront - who made it not as a footnote but as an opening, a story why have they received this particular necklace and why it’s a meaningful lanyard. As a result, when they receive the lanyard, they will have a moment to connect to the country. As for sustainability, we are looking at materials right now. We are still exploring ideas. We want to see if there are some kind of recycled papers that can go through a little bit of  wear and tear so it’s just not paper. If someone wants to put it in their pocket or their bag, what will happen to it the next day? Will it gets crushed or soaked? Things like that we are looking into right now.


Q: Being involved in this conference as a student, what are the things you would like to be showcased to other participants about the conference “Behind the scenes”?

Tarun Devaraj: Behind the scenes, its actually quite nice since we will be able to showcase very small thoughts behind projects. For example with the lanyard, one of the tests we are planning to run is a role play test where we would have the mockup of the lanyard prototype. Then we would try sitting and eating or we would try doing certain tasks to see how comfortable or uncomfortable it would be for the person who receives it. This is not a big deal but it adds so much value to certain design choices or things that design students have thought of behind the scenes.