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Doctoral Defence: Zhipeng Duan

Zhipeng Duan will defend the  PhD thesis "Soiling Service Design: Situating Professional Designing among Plural Practices".
The defence will be held in English. 


Please register to attend the trial lecture and dissertation

Trial lecture: 10:00 am

Trial lecture title: The Art of Getting Dirty: Navigating the tensions between method and situated service design practice

Defence: 12:00 pm

Thesis description

Professional service design knowledge has travelled globally, detached from its larger Western history and contexts. However, the dissemination of professional knowledge has remained highly abstract, making it challenging for individual designers to grasp the underlying perspectives and debates associated with it. Against this backdrop, this doctoral study explores the relationships between individual service designers and the contexts they must navigate. It aims to illuminate the complications faced by service designers when striving to establish genuine and meaningful connections between their professional practice and the local contexts.
By drawing on practice theories and employing multiple empirical research approaches, the contributions of this thesis are twofold. Firstly, the study elaborates on the detached views held by service designers which restrain them from situating their practices. Such views condition how designers perceive their connection to the world and lead to the potential for a sense of meaninglessness. Secondly, this study draws out an alternative possibility of relating professional design to local contexts. By proposing various ways of doing and knowing as means to attend to relational practices, the thesis suggests the ability to situate design practice can be cultivated through attentiveness to what others do.
Design practice does not necessarily form an inherent-coherent process, but rather entangles with other practices, each shaping the conditions for the others' existence. Messy encounters soil the established understanding of service design. Appreciating the encounters aids designers in finding means to participate in an ongoing process of world-making.


Zhipeng Duan is a design researcher. His research explores the situatedness of praxis and knowledge of design, in an evolving cultural context. As part of the Centre for Connected Care (C3), his research particularly responds to the transformation of healthcare services in both Norway and China.


  • Associate Professor Josina Vink, AHO


  • Professor Simon David Clatworthy

Adjudication committee

  • Associate Professor Tuuli Mattelmäki,
  • Assistant Professor Jung-Joo Lee
  • Professor Tim Ainsworth Anstey


Date: 01. March, 2024
Time: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Venue: Arkitektur- og designhøgskolen i Oslo, A2 Sverre Fehn
Address: Maridalsveien 29, 0175 Oslo

Contact: Jan Morten Øien