AX Designer Matt Hobbs Talks about Audio Experiences and Service Design in Dublin

Perhaps one of the most popular elements of Irish culture is traditional Irish music - carrying momentum, constantly driving, building and evolving in a cheery, major tonality, often telling some kind of story. And for AX Designer Matt Hobbs, it was music and audio that were common threads throughout his visit to last week’s Service Design Global Conference in Dublin.

Service Design Global Conference in Dublin

Service Design Global Conference in Dublin

Hobbs spent four days in Dublin alongside design industry leaders, sharing experiences using design practices in different organizations, exploring service design case studies, and (of course) having a few pints with other folks from the global design community.

“I was blown away by the quality of the content,” shared Hobbs. “In hearing how people are using design, research and collaboration to solve problems, my brain kept coming back to the similarities and parallels between design and music.”  


Hobbs explained how a few case studies, but not many surprisingly enough, highlighted the role of audio within service prototyping - including one example in which a design team piped in background noise to simulate real airport environments when developing a service prototype for new way-finding and signage for Southwest Airlines.  

Music and Design share so many common threads:

  • Service Design is construct-driven, similar to musical constructs.

  • Great design must be steeped in real insights drawn from generative research, similar to how great audio and music are driven by human stories and emotions.

  • Both are highly collaborative, often tying in improvisation.  

  • Both use the word jam in productive sessions.

  • Audio and Design share some common vernacular, including orchestrate, harmonize, on stage, backstage, and performers.

  • Design and Audio share an emphasis on terrible first drafts - a necesssary step in the iterative creative process to create meaningful output.

  • The culture of the group doing the work has tremendous impact on the results.  Orchestrating musicians to work together is remarkably similar to coordinating and harmonizing an organization to design a remarkable experience.

“Music and audio are too powerful to ignore in designing the world we all want to live in.”  Hobbs explains. He looks forward to applying his learnings from the SGDC to his work at Tunewelders to develop meaningful audio experience that, much like the services stemming from traditional design engagements, have a truly positive impact on people and society.  


Tunewelders partner, Jeremy Gilbertson describes Matt as “the ultimate two-headed monster. He comes from the brand side as a design expert, and he is one hell of a composer. Matt developed his mad scientist musical skills in improv theatre, musicals and through releasing and performing his own records. He is a game-changing addition to the Tunewelders team as we continue our work developing audio strategy and musical identity for major brands”.