We are the Service Futures Studio of the Royal College of Art. We explore, envision and develop new service innovation strategies by leading collaborative projects with private and public partners.

Service Design at the RCA

The RCA Service Design course, established in 2012, has a world class reputation as pioneering the discipline of service design and producing cohorts of talented students who have gone on to transform organisations in financial services, telecoms and technology, healthcare, public sector and government.

At the heart of the course is a project-based approach where partner organisations across business, technology, the public sector, social enterprises, and charities work with the students to access their creativity in a safe and independent “sand box” for exploration of issues, trends and new opportunities in the immediate or long-term future.

The Service Futures Studio runs with a core team of staff, graduates and technical expertise and is in charge of building one these relationships. By framing collaborative projects and conducting action research-through-design, we envision and develop new service innovation strategies. 

We explore service futures inspired by the big shifts that shape new ways of living. Our approach is to design integrative processes of collective imagination to explore desirable futures. From policy to product we adapt our tools to question the future we want to live in. Creating new maps of service futures brought to life with ‘speculative-lean’.

Xploratory Alpha Health

Envisioning the Future of Digital Mental Health and Wellbeing

Xploratory Alpha Health was a joint research project by the Service Design Programme of the Royal College of Art and Alpha Health, which took place between 2018 and 2020. It aimed to explore future service visions for the digital mental health space, focusing on developing a novel service innovation framework for ‘wicked challenges’ and distant futures. Alpha Health graduated in late 2020 as Koa Health  —an independent spin-out company. It was the first moonshot by Alpha, Telefonica’s moonshot factory.

An Integrated service innovation framework

This design-led innovation project proposes a novel service innovation process for moonshot design, validation and acceleration using an action-research through design approach.


Envision Future Scenarios

In this initial phase, the lab depicted potential future contexts that were of strategic value to the organisation. A future scenario is like a story that illustrates a possible future. The lab team believes a scenario should have a context, a persona (an abstract representation of a user) and a short narrative of how this persona interacts with the context.

Explore Service Visions

This second phase is about expanding the organisation’s collective imagination around the services that could emerge in future contexts by creating concepts of future services. An exploration is an excursion within a future scenario. The artefacts we find are provocative future service concepts brought about by interactions between future people and their future contexts.

Design Value propositions

This phase concentrates on turning the potential services of phase 2 into concrete experiences. In this way, the users experience the services, while allowing the lab to experiment. A proposition is a future service that is prototyped in the present context in order to test our hypotheses about who the user might be and how they might value it.

Deliver Live Services

The task of this phase is to convert the concepts into live services that can operate as ‘minimum viable’ versions of their future potential, (i.e. a service that functions just enough to meaningfully trial the value proposition). Live services are solutions brought into the current market to be tested for impact and engagement with users and developed in an iterative process to explore viability and what it may mean for the future.This phase contains two units:

We partner with Imperial College Business School.

We created a partnership with Imperial College Business School called ‘Wicked Acceleration Labs’ that works with world leading academic and industry partners to develop techniques that accelerate the resolution of wicked problems.

We explore and scope future horizons

We research the societal, environmental and technical shifts likely to impact people’s everyday lives to identify and nurture unique opportunities to pave the way for the future and enact social change.

Proposition Types

Ethics Providers

Platforms as facilitators and brokers of value judgements. It’s possible that in the future we could foresee an advancement of AI with the ability to codify and model the highly complex ethical parameters of everyday life.



Mobible is a chatbot that helps connect your faith with you, your life and your community based on church teachings and knowledge decoded from the scripture.


Digital Childhoods

Children may spend more of their time in online environments that can transform their educational and creative experiences but equally have increased capacity to captivate and shape their world view in potentially problematic ways.

Dimensions of change


Technology expands the scope and meaning of what relationships are while disrupting some existing dynamics. Relationships may be initiated, supported, curated and managed through AI.

We design strategic tools for transformation

We build new methodologies, apply our design frameworks to shift and accelerate the strategic capabilities of organisations by directly engaging with them in our projects.


Phase 1: Envision Future Scenarios

The lab team mapped plausible future context & developed future personas to create full scenarios.


Phase 2: Explore Service Visions

Excursions into future scenarios. Expanding the collective imagination of what services could emerge in various contexts by creating concepts of future services.

designing value propositions approach


Phase 3: Design Value Propositions

Propositions are tangible future concepts to help the client expand their collective imagination of plausible future services and to discuss the potential opportunities and implications these future services could bring to our society and the organisation.


Phase 4: Deliver Live Services

Converting the concepts into live services that can operate as ‘minimum viable’ versions of their future potential.

We accelerate the impact of future businessess

We enhance and iterate existing services or features through multiple cycles of planning, building, measuring and learning to establish in-house development, incubation or the creation of an external business.

Deliver Live Services

Unit 1: Developing services in-house.

Transforming the value propositions of the phase into live services to test their commercialisation in the market and their strategic value beyond monetisation.

Deliver Live Services

Unit 2: Incubating at InnovationRCA

Turning a service concept into a functioning service that can exist in a live marketplace in a way that it can de-risk investment by incubating at InnovationRCA, the Royal College of Art’s centre for entrepreneurship and commercialisation.


Live Services


Hold is an app that gives people the personal space to let out whatever is on their mind and relax knowing that it is stored safely. It helps people give structure to their internal dialogue making self reflection become more effective.

Live Services


Quirk is a personal finance app that helps young people learn about and manage their finances according to their personality and interests so that they can ultimately make better financial decisions that align with their life goals.

We work in collaboration

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Let's find the place to think, the freedom to challenge and the capability to act on real change. Together.

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Let's find the place to think, the freedom to challenge and the capability to act on real change. Together.