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Service Design (MA)

Shruti Agerwala


I am a researcher and service designer from India. Formerly trained in industrial design, I worked at Samsung Electronics as a Product designer to understand customer needs, identify new opportunity areas, prototype and validate concepts and create locally inspired, globally desired consumer appliances. I have also worked as an innovation designer and researcher in various sectors spanning from entertainment, healthcare and agriculture.

Coming to the RCA has helped me develop my practice to design with intention, navigate complexity, address pressing global issues and broaden my vision to design holistically and create value with a human-centred approach. During my time here, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with various project partners, including adidas and NHSX, which has not only broadened my perspective on how design can positively impact the future but also helped me understand the importance of designing with people and leveraging tools and methods to design effective and robust solutions.

Recent Awards and Accomplishments 

2021: London Design Festival (Brompton District) – New Contracts Exhibition for ‘the snug experiment'

2021: Core 77 - Community Choice Award for ‘inaya’

2021: Core 77 - Student Notable for the Health & Wellness Category for ‘inaya’

2020: RCA Grand Challenge 2020/21 – Winning Project for ‘inaya’

Show Location: Kensington campus: Darwin Building, Lower ground floor

Design for me is an amalgamation of sustainability, empathy and impact.

My practice focuses on navigating the complexity and interconnectedness of people, technology and businesses to design meaningful, inclusive, holistic and impactful solutions. 

Growing up in a country with one of the largest cultural diversities in the world, my experiences have shaped me to be a curious and empathetic individual. My curiosity and a keen eye for detail, which often manifests itself in the photographs I take, piques my interest in making sense of my surroundings: people, their environment, their behaviours, and how they interact within it. I believe that design cannot exist in silos. It is the sum total of how we feel, what we experience and how we respond to our surroundings. 

Having said that, our surroundings are unpredictable, chaotic and ever-changing. I embrace this uncertainty to design empathetic and connected futures that empowers people in relation to the planet and their environment.

There is a strong component to human nature that compels us to help others, and with growing displacement around the world, people are increasingly turning to the aid sector to volunteer their time. Non-profit organisations rely heavily on funding and volunteers to operate, but while there isn’t a shortage of people wanting to volunteer, funding is a major problem across the sector. In order to bring in both funding and volunteers, organisations often rely on positive messaging around their impact. However, a lot of the time this messaging does not match reality, and while most organisations have good intentions, organisations often find themselves having to prioritise securing partners and investors to receive funding, which can results in them having to deprioritise the needs of their volunteers.

'Designing for Volunteer Wellbeing within the Aid Sector' is a framework which helps organisations better support their volunteers by ensuring and protecting their mental health and wellbeing, while acknowledging systemic barriers within the aid sector. This case study is based upon our close work with a nonprofit organisation called Techfugees, that focuses on empowering displaced people through tech solutions. 

Over a 5 month period, we designed a series of interventions aimed at helping them create a more positive experience for their volunteers throughout their journey. We worked closely with their volunteers and the core team to uncover insights that ultimately helped the organisation support the wellbeing of their volunteers and implement these interventions within the organisation. Furthermore, based upon our research, we also created a tool that helps volunteers beyond just Techfugees ensure that their expectations and motivations for volunteering align with the activities and mission of an organisation they want to work with.

For more details of the project, read here or reach out to me via email or LinkedIn

Team Members: Sarah Morse, Signe Williams

Project Partner: Techfugees

Tutor: John Makepeace

Climate change is a major issue. Our planet is still warming, necessitating immediate and concrete action. The recent COP26 conference emphasised the importance of taking urgent steps toward the goal of reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050 in order to preserve a liveable climate.

I collaborated with adidas to understand how they can achieve their goal of a circular experience by 2025 through their 3-loop strategy, which emphasises the use of recyclable materials, ensuring they are circular and, where not, can be returned to nature with minimal harm. To do so, they acknowledged that they may need to reimagine their entire product cycle, as well as how their customers engage with them and their products.

‘adidas re-act’ is a service that aims to redefine the meaning of sustainability in the sports industry by making it visible, doable, accessible and inclusive. By providing concrete and actionable methods to extend the end-of-life of their product offering, it empowers customers to become agents of change for the greater cause of the planet and transform behaviour and mindset towards consumption habits. Based on 12 weeks of research and development, the service sits within the existing ecosystem of adidas, therefore minimising costs while increasing brand engagement and reach.

For more details of the project, read here or reach out to me via email or LinkedIn

Project Partner: adidas

Tutor: Nicolás Rebolledo

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan that sets out priorities for expanding Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS) over the next 10 years, we worked with the NHSX to understand early detection and prevention of eating disorders widespread amongst children typically between 16-20 years. It aims to widen access to services closer to home, reduce unnecessary delays, and deliver specialist mental health care based on a better understanding of young people’s needs and delivered in more effective ways for them.

Conforming to the goals outlined in the Mental Health Implementation Plan that support effective, evidence-based services we designed 'Pausible', an app-based service that aims to control binge eating by modifying behaviour and mindset towards food, its triggers and cravings through activities and self-reflection exercises within a 90 second framework. 

It is based on Dr. Jill Bolte Tylor's concept of the '90 second' and includes Cognitive Behaviour Therapy based techniques widely used by therapists for binge eating recovery.

Since cravings are distinct from hunger and are specific learned behaviours, our focus is on the early prevention stage for quicker recovery. Designed over 6 months of extensive research, development and user-testing, the app is supported by physical stimuli that help manage emotions of discomfort and stress which can often lead to binge eating.

For more details of the project, reach out to me via email or LinkedIn

Team Members: Alexander Burdett, Hanyuan Xue, Priyanjali Rane, Wei Huang, Yuxin Wang

Project Partner: NHSX

Tutor: Octavia Coutts

As part of the RCA Grand Challenge 2020/2021, we had the opportunity to come together from 5 different countries and disciplines to give birth to inaya. Keeping the theme of care in mind, we discovered that the act of caring typically happens in 4 stages: Identify, Offer, Accept and Celebrate. But often, celebration is missing. We asked ourselves, with a specific focus on cancer care, how we could incorporate celebration into a patient's healthcare journey.

'Inaya' is a care service that acts as a platform for patients undergoing healthcare, offering both physical and digital toolkits to help incorporate celebration into their journey and facilitate human behaviour change.

It aims to incorporate celebration as a key part of the care process. We identified three major phases that could contribute to a patient's journey during our research into cancer treatment: bridging, building and reflecting. We designed our customisable journals to correspond with these stages.

We believe reframing experiences through celebration tools such as gratitude, a sense of accomplishment, and reducing stress and anxiety will be powerful. We are confident that this will have a massive impact as many patients develop mental health problems after their treatment.

We are inaya, less medical, more human.

For more details of the project, reach out to me via email or LinkedIn

Team: Célia Marchessaux, Emre Kayganaci, Suzanna James, Justin Tsang

Project Partner: Logitech

Tutor: Idrees Rasouli

Awards and Recognition

2021: Core 77 – Community Choice Award for 'inaya'

2021: Core 77 – Student Notable in Health and Wellness Category for 'inaya'

2020: RCA Grand Challenge 2020/21 – Winning Project for ‘inaya’