My 99-second speech at DICE on "Design for impermanence."

Luis Alt
2 min readApr 22, 2021


As invited by my dear friend Clarissa Biolchini, I spoke last week at DICE, a global event organized by Alok Nandi to explore the topics of Design, Innovation, Culture, and Entrepreneurship.

Along with 8 other panelists from all over the world, I was asked to come up with a 99-second provocation before we entered a conversation among panelists and the participants.

Below is the text I wrote as a reference for my speech. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did to participate in the event!

Design for impermanence

I want to bring a provocation for the practice of designing for services. Specifically, to question why we’ve been approaching the practice as a mirror of an industrial one if we don’t develop goods.

We tend to adopt a somewhat linear journey that ends with a specification (blueprint) of a product that will remain the same forever, continually being manufactured as an infinite repetition. This is a problem.

Services are alive.

A service is an artifact that magnifies the power of someone that wants to do something. Services are dynamic, mutable. They evolve with time and spread all over an organization. There are many moving parts in services, all of which might be affected by a service design project.

Most services nowadays have, of course, digital interfaces. We expect them to have it because we now hold in our hands a remote control that empowers us to give commands and communicate with services.

However, the people delivering services need to understand their role, be trained, receive guidance. In some cases, there are physical spaces, furniture, and a signage system. There are also internal processes and systems (unfortunately, most of the time are disconnected from each other) that must be in place. Services are complex.

You can’t manufacture services; they evolve constantly.

As human beings become more digital, services are keeping the pace and are also moving to screens. With time, they will move to new interfaces and means. And although you can launch an app all at once, you can’t ship an entire service as you do with a good that gets manufactured and distributed the same way all at once. You have to train people, make changes to spaces, update systems, optimize processes. It doesn’t happen from a day to another. There are too many moving pieces.

Since we now design for impermanent things (like services), how should we be approaching this? How might we design more efficiently when there are moving parts, all the time, each affecting the other?

Thank you.



Luis Alt

I observe (and write about) how people use services and how organizations provide them — Founder of Livework in Brazil.