Graphic Mint Workshop at the Bienaalle International Design Saint Étienne, FranceAs you may have noticed from our social media channels over the last number of months, I have been very proactively representing Graphic Mint at design events this year. These events have given me the opportunity to meet with talented groups of people from an exciting mix of design disciplines and creative cultures. I return from each conference invigorated by fellow speakers and attendees’ passion for progressing design. These events are often hosted in beautiful, creative spaces but none compare to The Biennale.

Biennale Internationale Design: Saint-Étienne


Nothing could prepare me for the scale of The Biennale in Saint-Étienne, France. This event is produced by the Cité du Design and offers an eclectic mix of challenging symposiums, meetings and exhibitions. It certainly lives up to its producers’ description.

“A veritable laboratory of contemporary trends, providing a perspective on the thinking and questions of our time, in light of design issues.’’

It truly was a city wide initiative. Design was embraced everywhere in its many forms. The streets and buildings of Saint Étienne were adorned with beautiful Biennale branding. I have never felt more immersed in the story of a brand, in fact. This mass event branding could easily have gone wrong, by becoming overly jarring or noisy. This was not the case in Saint Étienne however, as the brand design was light and holistic in tone. Its robust system of interchangeable elements was an extensible, visual story. It featured not one but a family of ideas, which all connected to a smart, overarching concept.

biennale internationale .jpgGraphic Mint. Beautiful Branding at the Biennale International DesignGraphic_Mint_Biennale_International_Design-Branding1

This great Experience Design was cohesively extended to services throughout the event. I was particularly impressed while dining at a restaurant with no wifi. The Cite Du Design provided a wide area network broadband to delegates, featuring an easy login process. It just asked for my email address and voila! I was integrated with the attendee system, complete with personalised messaging.

The Design and Innovation Forum

Seamus Byrne. Experience Design Workshop. Bienalle Internationa Design. Saint-Etienne

Seamus Byrne. Experience Design Workshop. Bienalle Internationa Design. Saint-Etienne

I was attending the Biennale to present a talk and facilitate a workshop on Experience Design. This was part of the four-day Design and Innovation Forum, hosted by the official Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne 2015. This forum was jam-packed with presentations, workshops and discussions relating to some very relevant Design topics, such as:

  • Thinking Design Strategies For Business
  • Envisaging Design International Developments
  • Living Design Practice in an Industry
  • Connecting Design Networks Serving Competitiveness

Both my presentation and workshop fell within the area of the “Living Design Practice in an Industry” topic. I wanted to teach delegates about Experience Design while shedding light on the practice. Too often at conferences speakers focus on theory and not enough on method. I provided the attendees with practical and actionable knowledge of how to improve customer and user experience through service design.


There were many interesting speakers at the Forum, most notably two plenary sessions. The first was a very interesting talk by John Mathers, Director General of the UK Design Council. Besides introducing us to the wonderfully ambitious and badly needed Design for Europe initiative, his perspective on Design classification was very original.


His rich experience with Design was evident through the concepts of Style, Form and Function, Problem Solving and Framing which he expressed so fluently. I personally gravitate toward framing on a daily basis when working on projects, so it was nice to see it represented.

Another stunning speaker was the mind blowing Katsushi Kunimoto, Professor at Nagoya City University Graduate School of Design in Japan. Not since reading Roy Ascott in the naughties have I played such new concept bingo! Katsushi’s talk entitled, ‘Innovation Design: The Way which Builds the Future’, was fresh fields for me; a breather from the usual topics that tend to do the rounds at Design Conferences.

 Katsushi Kunimoto. Professor Nagoya City. University Graduate School of Design. Japan

He tackled the future of Medical Design Research and Development. He tracked the evolution of technology from the hi-performance, high-tech systems of the past, through the present era of intelligent computerisation. From here he moved to the not too distant future epoch of ‘Lifezation,’ a paradigm shift from intelligence to life. Riveting content.

The forum was very professionally run. I would especially like to commend Alok Nandi, associate researcher at the Forum and Creative Director of Architempo who was responsible for curating the wonderful programme, and Marine Schikowski who was an exceptional Biennial project coordinator.

Biennale to Business_02Avril2015_©CharlottePierot (105)

A video recording of my presentation, ’The Practice Experience Design’ can be found here. More event photography shot by esteemed photographer Charlotte Pierot can be viewed here. As Director of Experience for Graphic Mint I have been involved in numerous events over the years. For many of these I was an organiser, attendee and key speaker–and sometimes all at once! My event experience at Biennale has been of particular value, however. It comes not only from the calibre of its event design in 2015, but the quality it lends to the  exciting future of our European Design communities.

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Captivate: a CX Masterclass Last Thursday the 7th of May at 8:30am the first excited tweet went out from our team about kicking off Captivate: a CX Masterclass at the Wood Quay Venue. This event was a collaboration with our design peers Near Future, which we created to open the box on what Customer Experience actually means for large business owners, here in Ireland.

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CX Journey MappingThis article discusses customer journeys, which are a central theme of our upcoming event, Captivate: a CX Masterclass. They are also an essential tool for creating meaningful customer engagement. A customer journey is the sum of possible experiences and interactions a customer can have, as they engage with your business over time. Our recent CX Articles including a CX Comic Strip, discuss our team’s customer experiences both positive and negative. In order to learn from examples and create a CX strategy, we must understand how customer interactions across many different business touchpoints relate to one another, and form a holistic customer journey. Understanding the flow of this journey is key to converting your customers to long-term brand advocates.

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Graphic Mint are deeply engaged with the topic of Customer Experience (CX) Design. We have welcomed the Year of Irish Design 2015 as an opportunity for an important phase of development in Irish business. As designers, we too continually promote awareness of more creative, transformative practices of customer engagement. Our team have long-established experience organising Events at home and abroad. We have presented and facilitated customer and user workshops at Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne and Sonru’s annual StandOut conference this year alone.

Our staff have also created a CX Comic Series about the everyday frustration of poor customer experiences from a design perspective. This series ultimately illustrates the role of CX Design in maintaining customer satisfaction. In turn, we have kicked off a CX Blog Series praising our customer experiences, with an analysis of the design methodologies which create them.

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Stories about disappointing customer experiences are swapped between friends, family and even strangers on a daily basis. Our team often discuss these mishaps from a Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience (UX) Design perspective.

This post is the second in our new Customer Experience (CX) Comic Series, illustrating some of the funny and frustrating experiences our design team have had out in the wild. This week features Eoghan’s disappointing experience with an online purchase. Episode 3 is coming up next week!

Episode 2: The Mystery Refund

Eoghan's Customer Experience Refund

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Posted in Customer Experience, Design, Design In General, Interview, People, Satirical Graphics, Service Design, Sketches, Staff, Storytelling, Uncategorized, Usability, User Experience, User Interfaces, UX Comics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment