When  designing a PSS, designers try to find a balance between flexibility and control to create effective and socially responsible value for users and other stakeholders.
GRIP was about how designers achieve a balance between flexibility and control when designing PSS, leading to the creation of effective and socially responsible value for users and other stakeholders. When designing from a system perspective, the creative control of design is structurally lower than in product design. The designers have to deal with complex, dynamic environments and need to negotiate decisions with a range of stakeholders. The PSS development process is less formalized and is characterized by a high level of co-creation and co-production. This raises questions like how tight should  the designer's grip on the processes and outcomes of design be, when working together with end-users and other partners in PSS development?

What questions were being answered?
Teams from 3 universities and Industry partners were working together to answer the question: How do designers strike a balance between flexibility versus control when designing PSS, leading to the creation of effective and socially responsible value for users and other stakeholders?

What have the teams achieved?
Using generalised cases, the team has monitored and measured work related stress in the office environment in order to gain a broader understanding of the problems of the issues of flexibility and control. This helped to create the methodological support needed for the design of effective and commercially viable PSS with a high societal value.

Timeframe and communication:
Grip started in 2011 and finished in 2015. Throughout the project, we have published in a range of professional journals, including the development of manuals for the effective design of healthcare and service industry PSS. Progress was published via this website and explored in workshops.

Who was involved?
Scientific partners: Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology and the Design Academy Eindhoven;
Industry partner: Philips Design.

Project leaders
dr. Evelien van de Garde, Delft University of Technology
Dr. Dirk Snelders, Eindhoven University of Technology 


  • New goals for design, new roles for designers? Raijmakers, Thompson, & van de Garde This explorative paper reflects on experiences of design researchers with such work and discusses implications for both design education and creative industries, in particular regarding facilitation and empathy as key skills in the design of innovative services.

    Paper presented at the Cumulus Conference in Helsinki, June 2012. content/uploads/2012/05/New goals for design new roles for designers. pdf
  • Getting a GRIP on work-related stress: designing services with users and other committed stakeholders Garde-Perik,E. vn de; Snelders,D.; Thompson, M. The paper discusses implications for the design of co-created multi-stakeholder PSS, by introducing the Grip Service Model, which allows committed partners to bring in their expertise, and to foresee and exploit their personal/commercial opportunities. The GRIP approach to the design of PSS can be seen as a combination between a classical User Centred Design process, and a collaborative process of New Service Design.  Download
  • Getting a GRIP on Work Related Stress: Design & Evaluation of a Nature Inspired Relaxation Space Van de Garde Perik, E, Trevia, F., Henriksson, A., Geurts, L., Ullerup, H. The paper presents the design rationale and subsequent evaluation of the relaxation space 1.0. Experts with backgrounds in design, research and healthcare have evaluated the design of the relaxation space, which resulted in very positive responses regarding the low effort required and the high quality of the relaxation experience provided by the design.

GRIP service model

Stress at work may be unhealthy but is also necessary, at some level, in order to be alert when required – how to find the right balance can differ according to the context and situation. This makes stress a typical topic for Product Service System design – where designers look for a balance between control over the outcome of their work, and flexibility in accommodating a multitude of changing circumstances and contexts. Such designs follow certain principles and are based on models, but have many different (and sometimes unforeseen) outcomes and results. The GRIP service model is a prime example.
In the beginning, this Service Model was conceptualised as a tool to help the GRIP design research team gain a clearer picture of what a data led service may entail – allowing individual partners to foresee where their personal (commercial) focus and design opportunities may lie, and demonstrate to industry where our design expertise would potentially align. The model itself is unusual for a number of reasons, most notably because it positions itself somewhere between the classic user-centred design model and the collaborative process of service design. With this framework we could theoretically begin testing the basic service from the outset, using existing technologies such as galvanic skin sensors and heart variability monitors provided by our partners at Philips Design and Eindhoven University of Technology. After much discussion, we felt our knowledge and expertise would be best felt by positioning ourselves in parallel to existing stress-related expertise, companies and services – creating a kind of ‘plug-in’ service that would offer tools for data collection, visualisation and concept development.