Service design for full participation: Realizing foods and beverages for dysphagia

Project Gist

Service design through which people can proactively construct their own selves


Service design, intersubjectivity, design, subjectification, human de-centered design

Background and Purpose

This project aims at developing a methodology for designing services in which participants have a stake in presenting and negotiating who they are as opposed to services in which customers’ needs are satisfied unilaterally. We use the case of elderly people’s dysphagia where these people are simply given so-called safe foods and drinks and have no active role in defining themselves, resulting in a situation that is not necessarily safe if they do not seek to produce safety themselves. In contrast, we characterize service as an intersubjective struggle; service is the process in which people negotiate and present who they are. Yet, there has been no methodology for designing such services.

Project Achievements

This design approach, which we label human de-centered design, goes against the mainstream human-centered design that seeks to make the service more accessible and easier for customers. We developed this methodology by drawing on social science theories and concrete examples of our own as well as from the literature. We then applied this methodology in designing a service to allow people with swallowing problems, e.g., elderly, to take a proactive role in developing and presenting their own selves rather than being fed foods that are characterized as safe. The collaboration among diverse disciplines such as biomedical engineering, graphic and product design, and medical professionals was critical to this end. We could also develop multiple international networks with prominent researchers interested in the same topic, each one is leading to a collaborative research project.

Future Prospects

Extending the methodology for intersubjective service design, we seek to develop the methodology for designing “culture.” Culture is and continue to be an important target of design, consumer value in this post-modern era comes from what is outside of and antithetical to the market economy, namely culture. At this moment, there is no methodology for approaching this design. We do this using the international research networks by expanding empirical studies in other countries and exploring comparative analysis. We are starting to receive some grants for the collaborations.


Prototype display at the Japan Diabetes Society
Prototype display at the Japan Diabetes Society
Prototype display at Kyoto Chuo Shinkin Bank Business Fair
Prototype display at Kyoto Chuo Shinkin Bank Business Fair

Principal Investigator


・Graduate School of Management (GSM-KU)
・Design a new society! Dr. Yutaka Yamauchi explores theories that inform design from a cultural perspective, by capturing the social change and deriving designs that resonate with people’s identity projects—who they want to be, beyond the approach of trying to satisfy customers’ and users’ needs. He straddles multiple disciplines such as organization theory, service science, and design studies.