SDD2021 - September 17
and 18 in Barcelona

It has been - and still is - a rollercoaster ride. On the one hand, lockdowns, overwhelmed medical systems and restrictions on business activities. On the other hand, new services and a significant acceleration towards digitisation. Many organisations have come to realise that doing things the 'old way' doesn't always work anymore. The world is transforming rapidly. And so must organisations. Not only by understanding new behaviours and claiming a place in a new, broader society but also by contributing to positive change.

Design is an optimistic field tasked with identifying possibilities and imagining new solutions. Creative thinking compels us to look at things from new perspectives. From a strategic standpoint, design not only looks at needs and opportunities but also at the requirements for business success. And although it might not save the world, we share Bruce Mau's vision that design can break boundaries.

But design is not an individual sport. Only by joining forces with other creative thinkers will we have the ability to collect, select, shape and improve. We can be catalysts enabling our collective expertise to better manage change: tackling consumer issues, fostering responsible innovation, identifying constructive uses to powerful digital tools and technology, building customer trust, reinventing expired services and creating new ones

The 6th edition of our conference is forward-looking and optimistic. Through open-mindedness and collaboration, we’ll kickstart a change-making mindset. You will step out of your comfort zone and learn to break out of routines you might unknowingly be stuck in. To pursue positive disruption on both small and large scales. In concert with other fields, such as futures, organisational, economic, ecologic and social studies, service design enters the domain of change and transformation. This is why this year, the outside-in format of SDD is more crucial than ever. You will be inspired by out-of-the-box thinkers, creative rebels, and experts from futures thinking, behavioural sciences, and many other inquisitive minds. To encounter ideas or beliefs contradictory to your own and embrace new perspectives.

To pitch in and do our share, it's time to remove the barriers, unleash our creative potential, stop creating biased designs, and push forward concrete initiatives to challenge the status quo. Let's help organisations embrace an active role in an ever-shifting society. Transformation will not wait for designers, and creating positive disruption will not happen by looking away. Let's explore value creation and design new services that aren’t based on recycled patterns anymore. Let's advance our ideas. Build and lead teams to oil the wheels of innovation. And together, design transformative services, create meaningful interventions and enact changes that are indeed possible.

Challenging program

The Service Design Days is a cross-boundary, transdisciplinary conference for forward-thinkers and change-makers; strategists, entrepreneurs, leaders and influencers who are involved in product and service innovation and the (digital) transformation of organisations. The event focuses on human-centred design and connects strategic designers with business strategists and many other problem-solving minds.

The 2021 edition of the Service Design Days will take place in Barcelona on Friday and Saturday, September 17 and 18. On Thursday, September 16, we will host a welcoming kick-off party. The program offers two days of insightful masterclasses and case studies, and new views and knowledge from experienced keynote speakers.

Gain new perspectives by meeting, listening, discussing, and learning from researchers, innovators, professors, design leaders, experienced strategists, behaviourists, and other creative thinkers. Get inspired by the stories from small start-ups to large corporations on reinventing your business. Practice creative and strategic thinking with approaches like design thinking, open innovation and systems thinking. And experience how design can contribute to human-centric problem solving and forward-thinking innovation.

Join us! See all ticket options here.

Additional COVID-19 information

UPDATE 01-09-2021

This very special edition is open exclusively to a maximum of 200 participants, eager to reconnect with peers and like-minded creative thinkers. The intimate setting of this in-person version enables us to go back to our roots and celebrate human-centred design while also offering a personalised experience in a secure and healthy environment. 

We take COVID-19 seriously. We're consulting local government to ensure that the conference will have the latest health and safety measures in place. And to participate in SDD2021 you will need to show proof of either being vaccinated, recovered from the disease or otherwise, tested negative. We'll verify this during check-in.

Depending on the latest guidelines and best practices, other measurements to ensure a safe environment will be taken. The opening kick-off party on Thursday evening, September 16 takes place outdoors at a chiringuito on the beach.



We yearn to get back together physically. You too? While the situation in many parts of the world is currently still worrying, we are hopeful that much more will be possible again in mid-September. And that, by then, we will be able to organise a physical conference in Barcelona. We have already made several preliminary choices that we would like to share with you. For example, we have opted for a new location where we have many facilities and the flexibility to comply with any possible restrictive measures at the time. We will also meet all the requirements that the local government may impose on small-scale events. Think of quick tests, multiple entrances and exits, hygiene measures, etc. Finally, we have chosen to limit the number of participants we receive per day to a maximum of 200.

At the moment, we are focusing primarily on organising the conference and the kick-off party with our participants’ health and experience prioritised. Should the situation be almost ‘back to normal’ again in September, we may organise a number of additional activities. For example, visiting companies and agencies. We will keep you informed of these developments in the coming months.

Lastly, we offer extra flexibility in the sale of our tickets. In the unfortunate event that the conference cannot take place, you will be refunded for your ticket. If the conference can take place, but if you cannot attend due to personal, demonstrable COVID-19 related circumstances, you can also request a refund. You can also choose to convert your ticket to an equivalent ticket for 2022 or use the price you paid for learning activities (courses and workshops) of the Service Design College. You support us the most if you choose one of the last two options, of course.

Let’s share the excitement of getting out and about after being locked up for so long - and enjoy meeting people and the sights and sounds of Barcelona!



This year's line-up

Below you’ll find a selection of our speakers, lecturers and masterclass leaders. They work for agencies, consultancies, universities, startups and other small and large organisations. They are driven, leading and promoting positive change, transition and transformation. They are creative thinkers and love to share their experiences with you. Their fields of expertise span across the entire range of design disciplines and beyond.

We have experts from the following areas: ethnography, anthropology, design thinking, social design, foresight, systems thinking, business design, culturism, customer experience, and participatory design.

See here for the complete line-up and the SDD2021 program.

New event location

We are proud to announce that - for this year's edition - we have found a new venue in the heart of the most innovative part of Barcelona, District 22@. It’s a converted industrial warehouse, the home-base of BAU, one of Barcelona’s most rebellious design colleges. BAU was established in the late eighties by a group of enthusiast design professionals with a strong drive to modernise design education. They created a modern, innovative and multidisciplinary centre that currently guides students from more than 40 nationalities between bachelor and masters/postgraduates programs.

Our new place-to-be is part of a university campus of more than 8.500 m2, and completely modernised and equipped for design training. This part of the city has undergone an extraordinary integral transformation. Without losing its old industrial and working-class character, the neighbourhood has been able to welcome and concentrate a large part of the city's creative and technological sectors.

The rehabilitation of old industrial buildings with creative uses and the design of new public spaces has turned the area into a vibrant although not that well-known part of the city.

This new location is well suited for our program, from keynotes to interactive workshops, especially in COVID-times. Although spacious, it still keeps an intimate character. Networking drinks will take place on the terrace, while enjoying the Mediterranean atmosphere. From the beach, only four streets away from BAU, to the centrally located Born district, many city landmarks are within walking distance. And with the beach nearby, we might even go to the seaside to end the day while watching the sunset.

Courtesy of BAU, Design College of Barcelona

Past conference

Service Design Days events have been organised since 2016. They focused on how to ‘stay fit for the future’ (2016), ‘deliver value and be valuable’ (2017), ‘adapt to change’ (2018), ‘innovate for sustainable futures’ (2019), and ‘a blended tomorrow - expanding design horizons with technology’ (2020). As people’s needs and demands evolve, it is becoming more difficult for organisations to live up to the expectations of their customers, their employees, and society as a whole. Coping with continuous change, solving problems, and staying valuable are permanent challenges.

A mixed group of international experts addressed these challenges. Their fields of expertise span across the entire range of disciplines under the Service Design umbrella and beyond.

Watch a video impression below and read more here.