Greater debate and influence in the tendering process, will help Government understand the procurement of design services.
Design professionals need to feed graduates with the skills, attitudes & behaviors required to nurture design thinking.
Development of professional standards of engagement, will raise the standard of service across the design industry.
We could make more time for each other, professionally. Stronger partnerships could make us all more competitive.
If we were to collectively refuse free pitching and replace with credentials pitching
we would soon sort the wheat from the chaff.
Echoing Sands from last night: the broad ideas of “design” need to be built into
the Nat. Curriculum for future business owners to understand it’s value; issues
have to be tackled from the bottom up. It’s a massive task that requires vision
Industry should consistently be encouraged to look beyond “what everyone else
is doing” and truly engage in a meaningful design *process*. Increasingly
innovative outcomes are guaranteed.
Collaboration between different creatives will increase skills and learning within
the design industry. Design studios should build relationships with online
specialists, writers, illustrators, photographers and even other studios, as often
How can businesses understand the financial value of “good design” in NI’s grant-
Through Education and Training we can expand upon the creative talents of Designers – encouraging them to be more creative in an already noisy market. Being better, faster and more creative to think outside the box.
The design industry and design educators should be engaging with business
schools and non-design industry bodies. How often are non-design business
owners invited to design-related events? For example, how many know about
the ICAD exhibition this week?
I think DCAL and other government departments should strive to stamp out the
free-pitching culture and become innovators for good design practice & lobby
local business in understanding the true value of design.
It has to come from a governmental source.
Why not make Northern Ireland the creative business hub of the world? We have
some very talented people here. Maybe a ‘silicon valley’ or more a ‘creative
utopia’ should be what our local ministers strive to achieve.
Access to high quality training for professionals working at all levels of the design
An outlet for recognition (awards or otherwise) by an international body or panel
of independent professionals
A genuine commitment to creating a framework for facilitating events – either Irish
Design Week or our own Design festival
Ongoing promotion of all of the three initiatives below so that industry and the
general public recognize the existence of an active design culture in Belfast
A staffed, organized and funded or commercial body committed to driving forward
all of the initiatives below
Design companies / professionals that charge more for justifiably great design
work and possess the knowledge and communication skills to justify their position
- and other suggestions below…
One central online resource covering all aspects of design in NI. An online
forum that is run by C&CS and maintained by the design community. News,
events, guest writers, showcase, discussions, training, help, advice and career
Working with each other as professionals as much as possible. The Airside and
WithAssociates talk last night was a great example of how successful this can be,
for the creatives and the client.
An established mark of excellence with a minimum criteria that NI based design
companies can sign up to. Something that clients would then become familiar
with when sourcing design work. The equivalent to the Royal Society of Ulster
This one’s easy (and connected to John’s comment): establish a consolidated
and comprehensive email contact list available to all and any design-related event
organiser (or subscribable online notice board with RSS feed?).
Actually, retract that comment about the ICAD exhibition. Now I’ve seen it, I
wouldn’t take a client. No offense meant, it’s OK for designers but I think a non-
designer might be unimpressed…which raises another idea about how we
Make the connection between commercial success and design thinking as
early as possible. Design and business students should be collaborating and
learning together. We need IOD, Design & Business faculties, secondary level
education to create these links.
How relevant is design to NI, socially or culturally? As a region we need to
nurture a stronger design identity by creating / celebrating design champions
from business, design and public sector communities. A design festival would be
a great start.
Sara said if this forum is to achieve meaningful results, then it should be driven by
the design industry. I would go further by suggesting it should be driven by the
whole of industry where the opinions of business mgrs & design procurers are also
An exploration into the psychology behind the business community’s mistrust of
design, designers and the design process. Perhaps less to do with a lack of
understanding and more to do with a risk averse culture and a crippling fear of
TOTALLY agree with Gillian. On that last one: I wonder if any work on this has
been done elsewhere? Either way, that’s a great actionable starting point.
Although not specifically a ‘Design Award’ but it is a start – Belfast City Council is delighted to be hosting the Belfast Business Awards 2010, in partnership with Belfast City Centre Management.
The awards are all about celebrating success and they recognise the excellent contribution made by local businesses towards the overall development of our city.
The Belfast Business Awards will take place in the newly refurbished Belfast City Hall on Thursday 29 April, with 19 awards presented in recognition of the fine work of business enterprises, retail outlets and businessmen and women across the city.
I am happy to say that we have a ‘Best Creative Industries’ Award category again this year and I would urge all of those working in the film, TV, digital media, music and design sectors to apply. Further information can be found on the website – http://www.belfastbusinessawards.com/
Graphic design courses need more emphasis on how designers deal with clients. My education was incredibly lacking in this area, and I feel like it’s taken a move to self-employment in order to understand the importance.
Help and encourage students to develop a better awareness for User Interaction.
When i was in college very little if any was covered in the syllabus
The pneumatic tyre, the delorean, titanic, irish linen – design is nothing new in Northern Ireland. We dont need to do anything new, we just need to encourage the design talent we have, not just through schools but on into developing the ideas into profi
Option for taking degree-standard design courses, outside of a degree, e.g. offer individual modules as separate courses? Or develop new ones? (Lots of ideas below!). Much more accessible to people this way.
Being able to measure the benefit of design will show its true worth, whether it be cost savings through a redesigned shower head through to increased sales via a well designed and targeted marketing campaign.Quantify & demonstrate the benefits of design
Agree with that last one. Why should companies trust us with their money if we
can’t guarantee quantifiable results? We need to be able to present design as a
good, and safe, investment for industry.
Mutual respect between clients and designers. All too often the power in this relationship slides one way or another, when ideally it should be carefully balanced, and respect shown from both parties.
Establishing an NI Design Award(s) would help to celebrate our successes and
forge a sense of community.
We have the talent and we’re beginning to punch well above our weight
internationally. Feedback on last week’s Build conference from international
delegates was overwhelmingly positive. We’re doing great work, let’s tell the
On Michael’s point about the ability to take degree standard courses outside of
a degree. This is absolutely critical. There’s a great deal of content taught
within universities that could be offered as standalone refreshers, taught to
accommodate industries needs. Tell us what you need.
Chris A: Quantifiable results are powerful but can’t be guaranteed. Many ultra-
successful marketing campaigns/new product launches have involved risk and
bravery. We can minimise risk through market insight and measured results
can breed confidence.
Reiterating Jonathan Sand’s & Richard Weston’s comments, we need to raise the profile of design values and craft in schools by engaging with curriculum planners & teachers. Ideally under the banner of a professional organisation.
We can only hope to deal with issues around free pitching when there is a broader appreciation of the real value of design and better understanding of how to commission it effectively.
Richard: I agree each new project has a huge element of risk and uncertainty,
but when presenting past ‘successes’ to potential clients, surely it would build
confidence to show not only the good design, but also the quantifiable results
each project had?
I agree Stephen. I think the free-pitching debate is a miss-direction. I’d expect
better informed/educated clients to not want to commission work in that way
because they’d recognise the skill and value in what we offer. It’s bigger than
Businesses in Northern Ireland, big and small, need to give due weight to design and web design. It’s not an after-thought, it should be one of the very first things you think of.
We have so much more to offer than just design! I think EVERY company
should have a creative person sitting on their board. It would be an opportunity
to show how ‘creative thinking’ can turn a company around and drive their
Sharing and listening to our peers, we should do more of this. If we share new ideas and knowledge, we can improve together, which will then lead to greater output from the community.
Definitely a properly organised webdesign awards ceremony is need to celebrate the wealth of talent in NI and get us noticed as a haven of world class talent. Events more of Build’s caliber are badly needed.
I’d come home for something like that.
Professional development, training and business acumen are essential
elements of the career tool-kit but what we need to do first is change the way
that industry, talent, mentors and business support consultants can formerly
engage with each other and ‘create desire’ in the pursuit of career and
Can someone build an RSS/Twitter linked WikiNoticeBoard thing so we can have
a consolidated Design Events guide? Bet someone could do that easily. An easy
NIDA initiative that can help publicise the scheme.
On a related issue, the CSD is pushing for professional accreditation for the
design profession and introduce a designation of CDes. This would bring us up to
par with architects, engineers etc. Not a fix-all, but progress.
As pointed out there are 1000s of individual designers within Northern Ireland
however many are doing non design jobs as training courses are focused
purely on design, if we are going to break the ‘grant-culture’ sales training
needs to be introduced
As Gillian has commented, I think there is a cultural lack of awareness of the benefits of quality design in Northern Ireland. Perhaps this is something that could be introduced via schools at an earlier age to foster more creative thinking.
Coming from a small manufacturing business, I think the typical NI mindset is quite ‘closed’ to what good design can achieve. Our ‘mindset’ tends to find more reasons why not to do things, cost, lack of understanding…etc as opposed to reasons to do so
University Staff level visits or exchanges to design schools in Europe to boost and expand the way in which design is taught in Northern Ireland.
From the roots up; ‘talent’ is ill-prepared for our industry (refer to graphics) and thus, opportunities are being missed as creatives fizzle-away. Why?.. Outdated, non-relevant, non-practical courses and training are not keeping up with what’s actually happening on the ground.
Define ‘Design’. It needs to be clearly understood to have any value or
relevance in business. What is it? Web, Product, Graphic – the wider
community don’t see the value of just ‘art’ or aesthetic. Focus on the benefits
and demand will increase…
The DBA would happily run workshops for designers to encourage a better understanding of design effectiveness on the bottom line of a client’s business. Open up this dialogue with clients and design as a value-add becomes tangible.
It might be an idea to define what we mean by the word ‘design’. Its difficult to
educate the general public about the benefits of effective designs solutions when
OUR use of the word ‘design’ often goes no further than referring to the aesthetic.
Moan, Moan, Moan. NI Attitude. Nothing positive? Clients annoy you – Don’t work for them. Go find the one’s you want!
Using non pixelated text on your website would be a productive start.
It’s fine for everyone one to pass judgement on new designers being “Ill
prepared for the industry”. However how can these designers gain the
experience needed, when all our design agencies do not offer paid work
experience to help develop these skills.
What we as a community need to be able to do is to be able to develop an all
encompassing strategy to nurture creativity and offer those involved a clear
progression to develop their skills both at college and in the workplace in
To be honest, the quickest and most effective way we can make a massive
difference is to work together and stop being so suspicious or mistrusting of
each other. NI is small but we have exceptional talent that can take on the
YES! What are the opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration between the design and other creative sectors in NI? There is likely growth in the animation/VFX sectors over the next few years, now seems a great time to nurture and develop studio collaboration and relationships. We should be developing the sector so that we are bringing money here and stop the ongoing drip to London and Dublin.
The teaching of good grammar skills in design school would be a start, looking at some of the comments on this site. We use words, after all, as well as pictures. Some mistakes I’ve seen on finished pieces have been unacceptable.
Couldn’t agree more, Iced Coffee.
If our public services, government departments, councils and publicly funded
organisations exhibit no attention to either properly functioning communication
or aesthetics, what hope is there? We need a more ‘european’ climate of
Thanks to all the presenters last night at Beer, Branding and Responsible Design,
it was very informative and interesting; Ralph had me glued to his every word and
thought. Reading through most of the comments here, I have to agree with the
Expanding on my post, coming from the North American market, I find it amazing
at how much is “given away” here. From meetings to revisions, almost anything is
done just to keep the client happy and loyal, meanwhile the industry as a whole
I ave always been a fan of the work of the D&AD in England. The quality of the lectures and workshops and the incentive of the awards were fantastic when I was coming up through University. But even then we felt it a too ‘London centric’ organisation. Th
We all need to get behind the Design Alliance (including both designers AND
bosses) and speak with one voice to our various existing and potential clients,
government (especially procurement), business and industry, arts, education and
I agree that students need more realistic and practical training for the real world. And also I think that businesses need to be made alot more aware of the potential value ‘good design’ can make to the success of their business and image.
Having studied design here in Ireland at the University of Ulster and in England at Northumbria University I would say the quality of education provided here is superior, our weak point is industrial connections. We are lacking innovative companies with too many promising designers forced to leave the country or constrain there creativity in an unsuitable role here in Ireland. Our designers seem to be going straight from college into factories rather than the more nurturing consultancies available to graduates across the sea. The problem doesnt lie with the universities but the professionals in this country unwilling/unable to provide graduates with RELEVANT experience.
To me there are a range of factors that will ultimately improve design in this Country. I chose graphic design as a career path when I left school in 1995 because I thought it sounded like a cool job. Way Hey! Sounds stupid now but I had no idea what I was getting into. Career advisors and teachers alike had no idea what the job really entailed. I thought, what da hell and gave it a go! I didn’t go to university. Instead I chose to work my way up through studios and agencies. I was ahead of a lot of my peers at the time who were on the same career path, this was due to real hands on experience. I was given a chance by certain people who seen potential in me. But I worked for it. I put in long hours, with a thirst to be the best, different and all of that. All I know is that no-one is going to hand you a design placement necessarily because you have a degree. I’m self taught. Lots of hours reading books and teaching myself. I’m still learning – new techniques, programs and skills. Relevant experience is crucial. However, In order to get the jobs I wanted I tried to show how creative I could be with CV’s. Every major position that I got was through a well crafted CV. The Portfolio is another. My motto when I was training was… if you don’t have the work – make it up! Show what you can do. Take a major brand and and re-invent it, If it’s good enough, why not even send it to the brand and be pro-active. Self belief is a very powerful thing. I got every job I ever went for by showing my thirst for design.
Education is also very important but I think there is too much emphasis on theory and not enough practicality. One way around this might be for universities to set up some sort of incubator for designers to get real hands on experience. Maybe by starting on their own advertising in house. Invest in attracting experienced designers to play a role as creative directors to train the kids. If the price is going up for education, maybe their is an argument for pupils to be able to earn it back through university ran studios/agencies that allow the kids the chance to pay back their loans and earn real money in the process. Just a thought.
Northern Ireland to me, feels like the small enterprise capital of the world. Everyone is out for a bargain. This has a role in that it is inevitable that designers will lower costs to react to the market and demand of customers. This cheapens and de-values design. I should know I’ve been guilty of it myself.
Investment of large companies might help, but only if they buy their services here.
What might also help design would be to try and encourage more large international agencies back to this country who will attract the big spenders in advertising and so on. This will allow local talent to show what it’s really made of. If you’re good… you’re good and that’s it.
Somebody once told me that you’re only limited by your own imagination – I think that’s bang on.
Next article: How can design in NI flourish in difficult economic times?
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