Monday, 19 January 2015

Irish Design 2015

Irish Design 2015 logo, image via

A whole year celebrating design in Ireland and showing off Irish design internationally has just kicked off: great news! Initiated by the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland with help from Enterprise Ireland and some government departments, Irish Design 2015 (ID2015) presents a year-long programme of exhibitions, events, commissions, practice supports and more. It will also act as an umbrella for already existing events and festivals and an encouragement for designers and design organisations to present new things this year all over the island and beyond.

A large part of the programme consists of exhibitions that have already happened elsewhere. There's a touring show from Vitra and the opening and closing exhibitions for the year are both shows from the Design Museum here in London. Currently open at Dublin Castle is the very good In The Making, showing a range of objects paused mid-manufacture. Closing the year will be The Future is Here, a show about digital fabrication that I missed when it showed here in London (I moved here just as it was closing), so perhaps I'll get the chance to see it at home. And then some of the programme highlights include things that happen on an annual basis anyway: Offset, Open House Dublin, Design Week etc while a big part of the international programme means turning up to existing design weeks and trade shows, many of which have featured an Irish presence in previous years. But what could really be special about ID2015 is be the stuff that doesn't happen anyway or hasn't happened before, and there are signs of this cropping up in the programme already if you do a little digging. New opportunities for young curators, new collaborations and new happenings should be what ID2015 is all about, and with any luck it will be.

Another thing that's struck me as a bit strange is that ID2015 seems to be leading with job creation as its primary purpose. Don't get me wrong, I love design-related jobs (I'm constantly applying for them. CONSTANTLY). But to present design as a job first and foremost, or a money-spinner for business, kind of misses the point for me. It's true that design is a job, and a valuable, meaningful and enjoyable one at that. And using design can turn a promising idea into a presentable, marketable, successful one, and a good business into a great one. But design isn't just about making money for people, it's about making the world a better, more enjoyable, more liveable place. It's about taking things that don't quite work and making them useful. It's about taking things that are wasteful and making them less so. It's about finding new ways to fix problems, appreciate your surroundings and enjoy life a little bit more. I do hope that ID2015 makes design a more viable and appreciated industry in Ireland, but I believe that it will do that most successfully by getting the right stuff about design's impact across; not by emphasising that design creates jobs but by proving that design creates value.

This isn't the last you'll be hearing about ID2015 on I Like Local. I interviewed Director of ID2015 Alex Milton for the current issue of Image Interiors & Living, and I'll post that here in the spring. There'll be lots of event listings and reviews too, and as always, lots of musings on Irish design and architecture. Make sure to get to some ID2015 events if you can: there will be some great ones!