Swiss Design Network coordinator job

The Swiss Design Network (I am the HSLU Board Member) is looking for a coordinator to support the head office located at Bern University of the Arts BUA. You can read all this on the PDF description but here are the key details:

Relevant skills/experience:

  • experience in cultural, project and event management
  • research background in cultural and/or social studies
  • ability to work independently
  • networking experience
  • excellent communication skills in English and German
  • excellent skills in the managing of web platform, CMS and social media
  • interest in design as cultural phenomenon
  • located in Switzerland with a valid work permit

It’s a part-time position, so it would suit someone doing a PhD or not in a full-time post. It’s a good opportunity to connect with the design research world in Switzerland and beyond. Please pass it on to any friends, colleagues and ex-students you might think interested.

(The SDN site appears to be down at the moment. All the more reason we need a coordinator with skills in managing a web platform)

wemakeit.ch – a new Swiss crowd-funding platform

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wemakeit.ch is a new Swiss crowd-funding platform in the style of Kickstarter. It is the “Schweizer Crowdfunding-Plattform für Kunst-, Musik-, Film-, Design- und andere kreative Projekte” – art, music, film, design and other creative projects – and the work of Jürg Lehni (@juerglehni), Rea Eggli and Johannes Gees (@johannesgees).

As with Kickstarter, you look through the projects and back the ones you are interested in. If it doesn’t get funded to its required amount, you don’t pay. If it does, you do. At the moment the projects definitely have a more film, theatre and art slant than Kickstarter, but it will be interesting to watch this develop over time.

It’s great to see a non-USA version of this happening. Not that there is anything wrong with the USA in this regard (I’ve backed a couple of Kickstarter projects), but they are naturally very US-centric. Note to my students: This is a huge opportunity for Swiss design graduates to get out there on their own without having to find a big commercial backer. Get on there now!

At the moment the site is in German, but French and English versions are coming in Spring, according to wemakeit’s Twitter updates.

(The image above is from the bid for the project, True Nature, “a crossover theatre project about the yoga boom and the mixing of business, spirituality and lifestyle.” They want backing to go on tour.)

Touchpoint Observatory: Armed Ticket Collectors

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These people – five in total – were ticket inspectors on an early afternoon bus in Luzern, Switzerland, very much a tourist destination. So why are they dressed like armed police (no guns, but with pepper spray and earpieces)? And what is a security firm, Securitas, doing supplying ticket inspectors to a public transport company?

Luzern has its share of social problems, but is very safe compared to other cities and has nowhere near the kinds of issues cities like London or New York have. I have seen transport police on trains in London, but the blurring of the boundaries by the use of uniforms and attitude is a poorly thought through touchpoint, much like the TSA uniforms and badges that they are hopefully about to lose in the USA. If certain people in society have special powers over others, it is important to be able to recognise that straight away, not be left unsure as to your and their rights and responsibilities.

Time-shifting payments with Sprize and Swiss Rail

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Gap’s new pilot service, Sprize, deals with an age-old irritation. You buy something at full-price only to find it reduced in a sale a few days later.

It is irritating for customers, who tend to feel ripped-off or cheated by the store or staff. But it is also a problem for stores, because it means customers defer buying things until they are discounted in a sale and thus potentially lose a sale because the customer forgets to come back or shops elsewhere.

Sprize works by customers opening a Sprize account where they accrue “SprizeMoney” (currently one-to-one in terms of Canadian dollars). If you buy something in Gap and the price on the item drops within 45 days, the difference is credited to your Sprize account.

It’s an interesting piece of service design because it deals with a customer annoyance, but also benefits the store. Actually, it’s still quite weighted towards the store’s benefit because the SprizeMoney can only be spent in Gap stores. So it is more like receiving a credit note for the difference. Gap still get to keep your money (and you must spend it within a year).

This kind of shifting of the perception of value is something I find fascinating. People will regularly make an effort to gain small savings in one area (the few cents difference between the cost of washing powders, for example), whilst ignoring spending in another (the over-priced coffee they drank whilst out shopping).

Oddly, time-shifting payments can sometimes feel like free, even when it is shifted into a lump sum. In Switzerland you can buy a season ticket called a General Abonnement. It seems that almost everyone who lives in Switzerland has one. The 2nd class adult one is CHF 3,100 per year (about £1,850 or US$3,050). So it’s not cheap, but it’s a one-off outlay. When you talk to people about their train usage, one if the things they say is that love taking the train because because it’s free (that and the trains in Switzerland are punctual and pleasant). This sense of it being ‘free’ means people are much more spontaneous with their train travel because they no longer think about the cost or hassle of buying tickets. Even if you don’t think of it as free, the effect is like an all-you-can-eat buffet – people have spent the money, so they try and get the most out of it, which encourages the use of public transport.

Like Sprize, a great deal of the benefit is really for the Swiss rail network (the SBB, CFF or FFS, depending on the language you choose). They get to have a large sum of everyone’s cash up-front, which they can then invest and make even more money from.

The benefit goes both ways – there’s a financial one for SBB and a lesser financial one for the customer, but in return SBB get more value from their customers’ money and the customer feels like they travel for free. Free as in the ‘free’ minutes you get monthly on your mobile phone contract, which you also pay for. The reason why people hate their mobile phone companies, though, is because they don’t hold to their side of the bargain thanks to the terrible service they tend to offer.

Sometimes service design is about getting the service right, sometimes it’s about presenting the evidence of the existing, positive service in the right way.