Joseph Kappes

Interaction Designer, Cooper


Artist as a Service Designer

While many artists work in a space adjacent to product design, shaping material things to express meaning rather than to provide utility, I am interested in examining artists who work similarly on the fringes of service design. Specifically, my talk will focus on three artists, Marina Abromovic, Dominic Wilcox and Jenny Odell, each of whom have created artworks that we can also consider services. Their artworks challenge our frameworks for creating services, offer experimental value exchanges, and provide us with a classic speculative design prompt: are these kinds of services part of a preferable future?

Thinking about these art projects as services puts into perspective the limitations of our current service design practice and what values we see fit to exchange through services. I am curious to ask if we could have created services like these using the tools that we have now. If the answer is no, why not? What kind of research would have led somebody to design The Artist Is Present service? More abstractly, it also asks the question, what is the difference between a service that generates meaning and one that generates utility.”


Joseph Kappes is an interaction designer at Cooper. He studied design at Carnegie Mellon, and before that taught classes in literature and popular culture as a graduate student at Syracuse University. Joe is interested in exploring the ways that we can make theory practical and bring it into everyday use.