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Authors: Petra Černe Oven, Barbara Predan

Designing an Agenda, or, How to Avoid Solving Problems
That Aren’t

Zbirka [Collection] 42:3
ISBN 978-961-93098-3-4
Publishers: the Pekinpah Association and the Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region (27. 5. 2013)
Paperback: 388 pages
Language: Slovene and English
Price: 15 Eur
First 15 pages [pdf]

Book review: Professor Sue Walker, University of Reading, UK [pdf]
From the review:
“The book is very accessible so will attract a broad readership. In particular it will be of interest to students (particularly those studying information and service design; it is likely to be particularly helpful to Masters’ students keen to specialize in this area). It will also be of considerable interest to people working in government, business and health who are keen to use design in their work.
This excellent and stimulating book provides a useful European dimension to the importance and value of design in public sector innovation. […]
The book presents a very clear explanation of the relationship between theory and practice in information and service design. Particularly significant is the description of a methodological approach to project work which was exemplified through a 5-month elective seminar in service and information design at Academy of Fine Art and Design in Ljubljana followed by a ‘creative camp’ 2013 for presenting results.”

Book review: dr. Karel van der Waarde, Avans University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands [pdf]
From the review:

  • It is an ‘eye opener’ for organizations, government, and institutes because it shows how complex situations can be approached and changed into preferred ones.
  • The fundamental positive attitude of design – that is the ambition to intervene – motivates and stimulates innovative thinking.
  • It is an excellent resource for teachers of visual design (it provides many suggestions that can be integrated into educational projects.)
  • It shows what kinds of research are required. Some of the strong statements need to besupported by experimentalfindings
  • And probably most importantly, but often underemphasized, the book positions people in the center of all design activites.

International Orders (Non-Slovene Residents):

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  • Foreword
    Liljana Madjar, RDA LUR
    Service Design for Greater Innovation in Services
  • Introduction
    The Need for Designing an Agenda, or, Why Service and Information Design Are Again in Zbirka 42
  • Barbara Predan
    “Don’t Know. Dangerous to Jump to Conclusions. Need Data.”
  • Petra Černe Oven
    “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world!”
    Service and Information Design: Methodology and Tools
  • Recommendations for Policy Planners:
    The Numbers and Strategies Are on the Side of Design
  • The Projects:
    The Results of the Student Seminar and the Creative Camp Workshops
  • Formalizing Service and Information Design in Slovenia:
    A Time Line
  • Bibliography
  • Index


Introduction: The Need for Designing an Agenda, or, Why Service and Information Design Are Again in Zbirka 42

The first volume in the Zbirka 42 book series, Service and Information Design1 (2010), was a bold attempt to initiate a conversation about information design and service design in Slovenia. The book’s goal was to establish a theoretical basis for further development in these two fields, to offer a framework for beginning to evaluate projects, and, of course, to highlight the fields as areas of focus that would have a thorough impact on both the design profession and society in the broadest sense (and so they already have). It was this last part of our goal that demanded we examine the topic more deeply – and design an agenda2 for further professional work in practice.

The aim of the present book, then, lies in designing a plan, in a methodology and tools, in recommendations to policy-makers, and in dealing with concrete cases that, in both theory and practice, bring together stakeholders in certain selected topics and starting points. Our concern, then, is to shift to a search for the right problems and needs – things we encounter every day in receiving and offering services and information – and we have an ambitious goal: to bring at least one project to realization: in other words, to confirm that service and information design can have a positive influence on our surroundings, that we are designing for the community and inspiring concrete changes.

The power to achieve what we have described we find in linking the two disciplines. We first brought them together in the book Service and Information Design, and in the exhibition of the same name, which was on view at the Slovene Museum of Architecture and Design in 2010.3 Even then, in our research we came across many excellent projects that incorporated both disciplines. This was no accident; rather, the reason is found in the work process itself: both disciplines share a methodology,4 which, although it can diverge in certain phases, often overlaps in many areas. That is also why the third volume in the Zbirka 42 series deals with the two fields in an integrated way, and where they intersect we find: the user. When interdisciplinary teams working on projects concentrate on different aspects of scoping, exploring, and solving a problem, what they have in common is that in all these phases of work they “put on the glasses” of the stakeholders involved in the service.5 And from that point on, experts, users, and other stakeholders in the service add, each in their own way, knowledge and experiences from their own particular fields. Only such an approach can deliver a good solution and – as is our own ambition – make it possible for the service to become a reality and continue its own independent life among those who perform services and those who receive them.

This book, then, can be read as a handbook, a guide to how and why we should tackle two extraordinarily complex fields, which at the same time are integrated into every pore of our daily life. With one important note – borrowed from Douglas Adams, a master of writing guidebooks: DON’T PANIC.

Barbara Predan, Petra Černe Oven


1 Storitveno in informacijsko oblikovanje; the book was published in Slovene only. The name of the book series translates simply as “Collection 42”.

2 The online Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “agenda” as: “1) a list or outline of things to be considered or done; 2) an underlying often ideological plan or program”; www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agenda (accessed March 2013).

3 The exhibition, held 7 October–13 December 2010 as an accompaniment to the 22nd Biennial of Industrial Design, was produced by the Pekinpah Association in collaboration with the Museum of Architecture and Design.

4 For a detailed discussion of this, see the chapter “Methodology and Tools” in the present book.

5 See the short film Kaj imajo očala s storitvenim oblikovanjem? [What do glasses have to do with service design?], by Barbara Predan, produced by the Pekinpah Association, Ljubljana 2012.