As we approach the end of the year it’s time for designers to accelerate projects towards delivery before Christmas, think about ways of thanking our loyal clients, and reflecting on the gargantuan amount of work we created within the Irish Design Community in a booming 2014 (and the subsequent daunting task of updating our portfolios).
It’s been a busy year! Recently, at the wonderful IxDA Defuse 6 event during Irish Design Week, I had a great time catching up with my peers. These are other Designers working in Dublin for agencies, corporate and education, each of whom expressed how great business was and how slammed they were. Design is thriving in Ireland and we are close to a tipping point that’s been long overdue.
For years, the active and vibrant Irish Design Community has been bubbling just beneath the surface of everything that Ireland is best known for; beautiful scenery, music, the arts and traditional crafts. But in 2014 there has been a sea-change, most notably measured by the Craft Council of Ireland changing their name to the Design and Craft Council of Ireland (DCCoI), thus extending their remit towards the realms of Design in Ireland.
In the past, many have tried and failed to organise from ‘the ground up,’ a governing body for all of the Irish Design disciplines – which is by no means an easy task. So the DCCoI’s intent to take Irish Design under their wing and to help the local Design community flourish and to gain the recognition it deserves is a welcome gesture, especially as they are already an established and very well connected entity (from education to business to government) for all things craft in Ireland.
I’m excited about one of DCCoI’s first big initiatives for 2015, an entire year dedicated to Irish Design. Think of The Gathering for Irish Designers. Irish Design 2015 (ID2015) is a year-long programme exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish Design in just about every form. The ID2015 programme includes “events across the island of Ireland, as well as activities and showcases at design weeks, fashion weeks and architecture biennales in international design capitals such as London, New York, Tokyo and Paris.” There are four themes: Sense of place, Sustainability, Creativity and Well-being.
I have great hopes for Irish Design 2015 and believe it has the potential to provide a much needed focal point for Irish designers across all disciplines to rally around and organise. The rising tide lifts all boats but it is vital that ID2015 doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Instead, it must build upon past efforts to organise Irish Design that have gone before. A good example would be PIVOT Dublin and its bid for World Design Capital 2014 (WDC14). This initiative may have not succeeded in its primary purpose of winning WDC14, but the journey of seeking this goal resulted in a better organised Irish Design community with a stronger identity, a more cohesive history and a richer portfolio. The PIVOT Book is available in public libraries, and I recommend a read, as it is a tome of all things Irish Design.
Irish Design 2015 will also be helpful in making necessary inroads to getting government support. I remember during the planning of Interaction12, a Dublin conference I co-chaired with 800 designers from over 30 countries in attendance; how impossible it was to get a Minister to attend our event to promote doing business in Ireland. I was surprised as I had attended many business, technology and healthcare events where a Minister opening speech was a staple. Luckily, in the end the Lord Mayor of Dublin did a great job of welcoming our global Design visitors but the lack of support from our government was evident, at least to me. I still believe they missed the boat on capitalising on value of Design, as an emerging, fast-growing sector in Ireland. This will hopefully change as Irish Design 2015 seem to be adopting a practical, job-creation angle as part of their initiatives positioning; a good move, which will no doubt align with Richard Bruton’s goals for the country as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (and Design?!).
I’m hoping that ID2015 will act as the necessary advocate to our Government (and the European Union) on behalf of the Irish Design Community, to highlight the Value that Design brings to any table, so that in the future, Ireland as a country, will better utilise Designers and Design Thinking to solve the big and wicked problems we face as individuals, communities and as a society.
I have been evangelising Irish Design for a long time, and now it appears our moment has arrived. Let’s grab it with both hands and support ID2015 and its mission to elevate Irish Design at home and abroad. Happy New Year Irish Designers!
Information about the ID2015 programme for the year and how to get involved can be found here – www.irishdesign2015.ie