The contributions to the definition of a disciplinary corpus for service design come from two main directions: the first concerns the definition of a methodological framework for service design. This area is developing methodological tools for analysing; designing and representing services. The second area focuses on real cases; developing projects that are advancing the practice of service design and making service design visible to private business and public administrations.
The two areas mentioned above are developed along different disciplinary traditions; the first area refers to studies in management; organisation and engineering (Bitner; Booms; & Tetreault; 1990; G. Hollins; Hollins; Bill; 1993; Ramaswamy; 1996; Zeithaml; Bitner; & Gremler; 2006). This area emphasised technical and organisational aspects in designing a service; looking at a service as a production system. The second area has been inspired by interaction design studies (Pacenti; 1998; Sangiorgi; 2004); however the specific theme of service design has been developed in some schools and teaching programs beyond the traditional domain of Interaction design; focusing on experiential issues related to a wide range of product-service systems. The focus of this area is the service encounter¬ł i.e. the physical or virtual space in which the service provider(s) come in contact with the customers.
The parallel and asymmetric development of the two areas led to separate methodological approaches. This paper will illustrate such a development with the aim of emphasising the gap between the two areas and exploring possibilities to develop a broader operative paradigm for the design of services.