Massimo Vignelli is often known for designing a standard for signage for the New York City Transit Authority in the 70s. But what most people aren't aware of is that he played a significantly role in informatics and strategic placement of the signs as well. They may not have called this "service design" at the time, but it's fascinating to discover that they were approaching the problem in a similar way over 40 years ago.
“A designer always has a view on what the context is like, but this is always a guess, a personal view, based on personal experiences. Research with real users serves to provide a richer, more dependable view on situations in which products are or will be used." -- from “Contextmapping: experiences from practice" by Froukje Sleeswijk Visser, Pieter Jan Stappers and Remko van der Lught