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Service Design (MA)

Xinhui Xu

As an interdisciplinary user researcher and service designer, studying at RCA made me have a deeper understanding of service design. In addition to building and optimizing user-centred experience and systems, it is more important to understand the logic and methods, find intervention points, and leverage transformative influence.

Service design not only gives me the opportunity to communicate with real people, listen to real ideas, and get systematic answers to questions about social phenomena, but also gives me the space to explore the practice of service design theory in the field of interest. I hope to use user-centred system design thinking to bring positive changes to society and empower communities and individuals.


My design skills are reflected in my enthusiasm and care for human beings, communities, cities and the earth, focusing on the exploration of behaviours, needs and characteristics of groups and individuals, so as to explore the connection between individuals and communities. With the integration of psychology, sociology and other disciplines, I explore the deep nature of problems, verify and construct influential designs through experimental design, user research, and behaviour analysis.

ContextSexual identity and society are currently being hotly debated. Language is changing, laws are changing, and violence is happening, from cancel culture to extreme activism - self-identity is at an all-time high, amplified by the media and interest groups around the world. Being a lesbian in a patriarchal society means being more marginalized than being a gay man. Because of their stigmatisation as women, they face restrictions and violations of their rights.
What makes queer women invisible?
After talking to 30 queer women about their perceptions and experiences of invisibility during #lesbianvisibilityweek, I found that invisibility mainly refers to the lack of social acceptance of their identities due to stereotypes and the lack of diversity in how queer women look and act. However, the media representation under the patriarchy, which lack of diversity makes it difficult for them to form a social identity and spread their voices.
StigmatizationI invited 20+ queer women to write anonymous letters, collected their experiences of being stigmatised, and tested their motivations of writing letters as a prototype.
Queer women's spaceFor queer women, queer spaces aren’t just places to meet or drink, they’re community hubs where people can feel safe, be themselves and learn about their histories.
Observation in spaceUrban spaces often don’t make queer women feel safe, equally welcome, or belong, making queer women-friendly spaces in cities become discontinuous. And during the past decades, queer venues have been rapidly declining globally, which has been driven by complex social and economic changes, and are interwoven with the development and gentrification of cities. Likewise, The Common Press’s bar announced its closure this February.
Problem DefinitionHow might we enable every queer woman who comes to the space to participate in communication or creation, connect, express themselves, make a difference, have some takeaway, or even become an influencer? How might we use The Common Press as a culture hub platform to help queer women be seen, be heard and be supported by helping them explore themselves and express themselves freely?

Design strategy

In fact, what I really want to provide is a decentralized queer support network that can be used by The Common Press and its partners to increase wider participation and influence.

DeliveryStep1: Offline engagement toolkit - Aims to help individuals participate in voices by answering questions, posting questions, creating art and sharing stories - Dialogue not only helps queer women support each other but also an empathetic space for more people to know what they hope to be told when struggling, while providing free space for opening new conversations.
Step2: Discord discussion group Ensure the accessibility of the service platform by establishing physical touchpoints in bookstores; Facilitate queer women sharing stories, exchanging experiences, connecting, etc.
Step3: Story-sharing website Ensure accessibility of the site by establishing touchpoints on Discord and the official The Common Press site; Queer women share their stories based on categories of topics on the website so that more people can hear the voices of queer women Queer women can share stories inspired by books based on a story-sharing toolkit to resonate with more people
RoadmapCommon Sisters is a platform that helps queer, Gen Z and millennial women connect, share stories, and be proud. The Common Press can market through a collaborative network and use the platform to bring together queer women, host events, distribute information, build a digital network of mutual support, and create an influential, externalizable community.
Special thanksI would like to thank Alfonzo from The Common Press and Lip from The LGBTQ+ Community Center for sharing with me their queer experiences, insights and visions as community operators! Also, I want to thank every single person I've met and talked to along the way! 💗