Sacred Services: The Potential for Service Design of Theory Relating to the Sacred

Main Article Content

Ted Matthews


As we move deeper and into a service economy, differentiation of service offerings occurring through the customer experience is becoming central to the success of service providers. The emerging discipline of service design must find new ways to orchestrate settings for customers that will result in favourable and memorable service experiences allowing for differentiation to take place.

Services are defined through their intangibility where customer’s efforts are deemed inseparable from creating favourable experiences. The temporal nature of services mean that time is an important dimension. These factors can be a challenge for the service designer.

Around the sacred, rituals and myths are created to concretize and comprehend its intangible nature. These socially driven constructions give structure to time and seasons, narratives to fundamentals truths and meaning, whilst alleviating anxiety though life changes and allowing for euphoric experiences.

This paper draws from the theory relating to sacred, mainly from the social sciences, but also through a ‘bricolage’ approach, which aggregates relevant and useful concepts from the humanities. It argues that service design can benefit from the operationalization of theory relating to the sacred as a way to create favourable experiences and value for service customers.


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Article Details

NORDES 2013: Experiments in Design Research: Expressions, Knowledge, Critique
Author Biography

Ted Matthews, Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Institute of Industrial Design

PhD Candidate