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Service Design (MA)

Benedetta Locatelli

A “practical all-rounder”; this is how her colleagues call her. Benedetta is an Italian Service Designer and Design Strategist based in London. She’s passionate about future thinking, unconventional design processes and taking a research-driven approach. Although she can be a pivotal asset in each step of the design process, her interests and skills stand out the most within the research and prototyping phases. 

Prior to her postgraduate studies, she obtained a BA in Industrial Design from Politecnico di Milano, with a thesis focused on the future of travel, being part of the Design Challenge sponsored by EY CogniStreamer and Nimble-bee. She won the first world award of the challenge with Jackit, a combination of product and service for business women in 2030. 

She is a founding partner and fellow of RCA’s Design & Philosophy Society. Parallel to her postgraduate studies at the RCA, she had the opportunity to work as a Service Designer in an NPO’s promoting design thinking in its applicational reality. 

Aces in the sleeve: project management and organisational skills, time-management, love to work in a team, attention to details, experimentation. 

Benedetta Locatelli

After she graduated, she joined a Digital-Transformation Company in Milan as UX Designer where she had the opportunity to design the operational development of web-structures and models for a wide range of SME’s. She then was part of a publication called ‘Digital Observatory’ (2019) where she provided user research and mapping the digital strategies of North Italy SME’s. She then had the privilege to join one of the most important Italian Design Consultancy Company as UX and Service Designer, where she learned to be highly collaborative within multidisciplinary team. Joining RCA has been the turning point to pursue her interests and to apply the design thinking methodology on real world challenges. 

Aethos - The future of values-driven purchases 

During the last term she worked with Conor Mc Donald Heffernan and Giulio Ferrato in collaboration with a major payment provider to come up a vision to transform the future of values-driven purchases. 

Their role as service designers was to use their mix of design oriented approach and entrepreneurial spirit for good, to examine how business, digital services and finance can be leveraged to change society for the better. 


 A receipt fit for the 21st century
A receipt fit for the 21st century

Aethos is the service to issue the 21st century receipt to get to know the real values behind your possessions. 

It’s based on the simple idea that we should easily be able to understand how the products we buy have impacted people and planet. 

Project challenge — From one of the most dramatic supply chain disaster to its real consequences - the focal point for the discussion on ethics and sustainability.

Consumer priorities have massively shifted, driven by the younger generations. They have challenged norms and driven changes that have led to the emergence of new models like social entrepreneurship. But the way they shop tells a different story.

Why is it that there is this rift between increasingly conscientious consumers' values with the actions of the businesses most of us shop from?

We took on this challenge because our generation cares about how the money we spend impacts the world around us. Yet we realised we all still shopped on Amazon and none of us really knew how our individual purchasing decisions were affecting people and the planet.  

53% of us believe that brands can do more to solve social problems than governments.

Whether this ends up being a force for good is down to us. Please refer to the video above to get to know the real problems behind blind consumption and have an understanding of our research area. 

Introducing Aethos
Introducing Aethos — What is the real cost of your purchases?
Introducing the 21st century receipt
Introducing the 21st century receipt — From the first one to our version
Discovering the 21st century receipt — Digital receipt UX
Revealing the 21st century receipt empowerment
Revealing the 21st century receipt empowerment — #knowyouraethos campaign
Understanding the verification engine
Understanding the verification engine — The verification process
Understanding the verification engine
Understanding the verification engine — The verification process in depth

Introducing Aethos

Do you know where your clothes come from? What if you found out they were made in an unethical or unsustainable way? Would you still have bought them? The gap between our values and the purchases we make is becoming wider. 

This is why we created Aethos: the service to issue the 21st century receipt. It combines a fully automated platform that enables the receipt to be issued, with a hybrid model that facilitates a supply chain verification process.

On the one hand Aethos is an engine for transparency that empowers conscious choices by revealing the real story behind products. On the other it’s a megaphone for people to promote transparent brands and hold opaque ones to account through our #knowyouraethos social media movement. 

We’ll deep dive into the receipt first, and then we’ll look at Aethos verification.

Introducing the 21st century receipt 

We know we are not the first group of people to tackle transparency and efficacy in the fashion world.

So we felt it was very important for us to look closely at the assets already in play and we re-envision them in a better version.

Receipts are still an integral part of the retail experience. These artefacts of our society have traditionally revolved around the fair exchange of value. But they have not evolved with our shifting priorities.   Nowadays, anytime you purchase something, we’re sure the classical “Would you like a receipt?” resonates with you. What does it resonate? How many times do you say yes? How many do you say no? Probably, the most. 

This act is taking out an important realisation of the value of our purchase and this is why we want to introduce our version. 

It works as a proof of conscience, displaying the information that matters most to consumers about their products. It comes in paper form or email form, linked to an interactive web app version that brings to life the stories of the producers and places that created the product.

Discovering the 21st century receipt 

As customers are making a purchase, they will see a poster in the store or website, introducing the 21st receipt. After making the purchase, they are asked if they would like their receipt - and say yes this time - to receive a paper version or a digital version sent to their email. On scanning the physical QR code or clicking on their email link, customers will be taken to the web app version of the receipt. This shows the product’s journey interactively, designed based on the retention rates of our digital prototype. We also bring the stories of the producers and places that created the product to life here.

Knowing the journey of a product gives rise to political discussions that are often inextricably linked with ethical questions - for instance, around the use of forced Uyghur labour for sourcing cotton in Xinjiang. Our approach is to bring these to consumers' attention so they can research and inform themselves on these important issues.

Revealing the 21st century receipt empowerment 

A big part of the power of the Aethos receipt is its ability to empower ethical fashion brands and hold others to account. Sharing the receipt of a transparent product displays the brand's name and a confirmation that the clothes are exploitation free while opaque brands are prompted to make their product journeys transparent.

Understanding the verification engine 

Aethos verification enables brands to prove their supply chain claims. It relies on blockchain combined with physical technology to track a product’s journey from farm to shelf. This location data is cross-referenced by us with existing databases and certifications standards. Our approach is to use existing trails to legitimise and authenticate supply chains rather than add another level of certification.

Our tracking process uses unique molecular tracers that enable us to physically verify a material’s point of origin, paired with NFC tags that function as a digital marker. These are scanned along the production journey and relayed to our Blockchain based app. This secured digital ledger registers the tag ID and location data of the smartphone when it’s read. 

By combining proof of location underpinned by a decentralised system, with the work of existing verification bodies, we can create real transparency in establishing whether products are truly exploitation free.


Would you really want to know the real story behind your possessions? 

"Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing." (Oscar Wilde)

Our theory of change
Our theory of change — From the current condition to the vision

Our theory of change foresees that with the creation of the 21st-century receipt, we can impact more brands to be fully transparent of their supply chains and eradicate greenwashing strategies. 

The social media movement will empower people to hold businesses to account and hold themselves to account, to establish a future where our purchases are truly driven by our values.

Sharing information about the places and stories of the people behind products, while also bringing to attention relevant political debates empowers consumers to learn and educate themselves, giving rise to future decisions that are more informed and conscientious.

Our long-term vision is that the journey of every single product on the market becomes transparent, as consumers progressively stop buying from brands that they know are not.

Please watch the video below if you are interested in a more complete run-through of how Aethos can impact the world.

Project Pitch

A massive thank you goes to my dear colleagues and friends Conor Mc Donald Heffernan and Giulio Ferrato for the wonderful collaboration and for keeping up with these challenging times.


VISA London Innovation Center

A special thanks to:

Elin Surjsen and Cedrine Streit from the VISA Innovation & Design Team for guiding us throughout the project, to our tutor Judah Armani for his unwavering support and to our Head of Programme Clive Grinyer for pushing us to think further. 

We would also like to give a special thanks to the fashion SMEs, retailers and people who gave us time out of their busy days to help make Aethos possible.

With support from:

David Lais and Yuki Hayashi - CEO and Head of Marketing and PR at ecolytiq

Oliver Bolton - CEO Earthly