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Doctoral thesis defence: Ted Matthews

Ted Matthews will defend his PhD thesis "Exploring Sacred Service Design." at AHO on 14 June 2021. The defence will be in English. 

Title of the trial lecture: “Reflections on the designer as a bricoleur: bridging theoretical and practice based approaches to design research?”


The defence will be held digitally over zoom. 

Register for the disputation
The disputation will take place in zoom webinar. To be able to participate as an audience you need to register. After registration, you will receive a link. This link will be active 15 minutes before the disputation is scheduled. 
Register for the disputation.

PhD thesis
Read the thesis online here


This PhD focuses on the design of experience-centric services through the integration and utilization of concepts and practices relating to the study of the sacred.

Sacred experiences are often activated and expressed through ritual, myths and symbols of meaning connected to communities and their values. Such experiences can be life changing events such as weddings, but also in other experiences like sporting events, tourist experiences and calendrical rituals such as birthdays. We also witness sacred experiences through consumption of services and through relationships to brands. To date, in service design research and practice, there has not been an exploration of how such experiences might be designed for, and how service design might be informed by and utilise approaches and concepts of the sacred.
This PhD by publication uses research through design as its main methodological approach, supported by research methods located within qualitative inquiry. This was undertaken through a series of design cycles in collaboration with four, large Norwegian service providers. The research undertakes an exploration of theories relating to the sacred for the development of new approaches for the design of experience-centric services. In doing so it has drawn from approaches, concepts and practice from socio-cultural domains to weave this together with service design practice to develop a new service design approach, named the Sacred Services Approach.
The research’s main contributions are in identifying and developing interdisciplinary themes between socio-cultural domains and service design. It presents an approach that enables a discussion and exemplification of how service design can integrate approaches, concepts and practice from socio-cultural domains into the discourse on service design. For practice it presents a practical approach for the design of experience-centric services that utilise ritual, myths and symbols together with the sacred.

ted_web.jpgAbout the candidate: Ted Matthews is a practicing service designer, lecturer and researcher. He currently holds the position of Chair of Service Design at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design.
He has over 15 years experience of working with service design, starting his career developing co-design tools for citizen engagement in large urban development processes as well as social innovation for community services. However the last 10 years he has developed a specialisation within experience-centric services design working within a diverse range of contexts including professional football, tourism, hospitality, financial services and telecoms. His PhD research was carried out as part of the Centre for Service Innovation (CSI).


Simon Clathworty
Andrew Morrison

Adjudication committee:
  • 1 opponent, Professor Nicola Morelli, The Technical Faculty of IT and Design
  • 2 opponent, Vice-Dean and Professor Satu Miettinen, University of Lapland 
  • Coordinator Professor Jonny Aspen, The Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Dato: 14 juni, 2021
Tid: 12:00

Sted: Online