Navigating the Toronto Service Design Landscape

Inspired by Tamsin’s post on the service design landscape in Vancouver, I’m offering a personal perspective on what’s going on in Toronto, based on my time working and community building in the space. 

Some framing points:

  • The Toronto service design space is nascent, but growing. It has gained a lot of momentum in the six plus years since I arrived here and set up a practitioner meet-up group (Service Design Toronto). By nature, the community is small, with lots of overlaps and people who know each other.
  • It can be a challenge to separate out ‘service design’ from the other overlapping disciplines such as user experience (UX), customer experience and digital product design. In order to keep this post succinct (without devolving into pedantic design definition semantics!) I’ll try to focus on more, well, focused service design spaces. I characterize these as not having an explicit or exclusive digital focus, and considering experiences that span multiple delivery channels.
  • That said, service design and digital tend to be very intertwined, with digital driving much of service transformation, and service design riding along with it, almost as a trojan horse at times. This seems to especially be the case in public sector and banking.


Service Design Toronto
Service Design Network Canada
Practical SXD Slack Community local-canada channel

Some adjacent but not explicitly service design focused communities include DesignX, the Toronto IxDA, Civic Tech Toronto, and UX Research Toronto,


The Moment
Fjord Toronto
Doblin Toronto
Idea Couture
Habanero Toronto
FCV Interactive Toronto
Huge Toronto

Private Sector In-House Teams

Telus Service Design Team
CIBC Service Design Team
Scotiabank Digital Factory
TD Digital CX Strategy and Design Team
Capital One
Loblaw Digital

Public Sector In-House Teams

Ontario Digital Service
City of Toronto Civic Innovation Office


Akendi service design training

To Boldly Go… 

It’s so exciting to see the service design space and community growing in Toronto. It’s been a great ride so far, with so much potential for the future.

Many personal thanks to all the people who make this community what it is; friends, collaborators, clients, peers, and colleagues. You know who you are!