Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quality of Life Exhibition, Design Thinking in Sweden and Ireland

At the invitation of DIT and the Swedish Embassy this evening I attended the opening of the Quality of Life exhibition at DIT Bolton Street,  together with a seminar on Design Thinking in Ireland and Sweden.

The guests of honour were HE the Swedish Ambassador Claes Ljundahl and Sean Haughey TD,  Junior Minister at the Department of Education and Science.  I was delighted that Minister Haughey stayed throughout the event for over 90 minutes,  including the seminar presentations.

On arrival, I had to run the gauntlet of some of the DIT students preparing to stage a peaceful and dignified protest to the Minister over funding cuts and in particular for the DIT gymnasium and sports facilities!

John Lawlor,  Head of the School of Manufacturing and Design Engineering acted as host for the evening.   The Ambassador welcomed everyone,  noting the the role of Sweden in international design and the current Swedish Presidency of the EU.  Minister Haughey expressed his interest in the role of design and of SMEs in rebuilding the Irish economy.  Mike Murphy,  Director and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering also gave a short presentation on the role of innovation throughout history,  and highlighting some of DIT's recent student engineering and design successes.

Robert Bau,  of Swedish design consultancy Ergonomidesign,  gave a presentation on the current state of the design profession in Sweden,  highlighting design philosophies and in particular how design ethos trumps management consultancy.

Sean McNulty,  of Dolmen Design and of Innovator,  gave a presentation on the role the design industry could play in helping reshape the economy.  He gave an overview of some of the key points of his written submission to the Taoiseach's Innovation Taskforce,  of which coincidentally I am a member:  I had in fact read Sean's submission before this evening,  one out of 92 submissions we have received.  He stressed the path from design as styling,  to design as process improvement,  to design as innovation.

In quite a lively discussion session after the formal presentations,  the opportunity for new thinking about design,  particularly for Ireland's 270,000 existing SMEs,  was explored in the context of limited State resources.

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