design, business &
innovation in dublin
the link between design and innovation
Design is the development of ideas through action, a bridge between cre-
ativity and innovation and this is now recognised across the mainstream of
development. To quote Bruce Nussbaum of Business Week writing in 2005
about emerging trends in business: “When people talked about innovation
in the ‘90s, they really meant technology. When people talk about innova-
tion in this decade, they really mean design.”
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, speaking on her inauguration as EU Commis-
sioner for Innovation in 2010 commented that “Europe has a large and ex-
cellent knowledge base. It is the largest producer of scientific publications.
But we are not good enough at transforming our inventions into commer-
cial successes. For example, the mp3 standard for compressing audio data
was invented in Europe, but commercialised in America – as was Apple’s
iPod.” Connecting new research or inventions to markets is one of the ob-
vious places to find design in innovation: understanding cultures and life-
styles and weaving new technologies into them as designed products and
But the design of products is only one role design plays in innovation. De-
sign is about more than aesthetics, style or making a statement. Design is a
process, an approach to that can be used to create change in many contexts
– from the design of medical services to urban regeneration strategies. This
design process starts from the user’s perspective and products, services and
systems that correspond better with users needs are more effective, useful
The following pages, which formed part of Dublin’s bid for World Design
Capital 2014, show some of the parts design is playing in business and in-
novation in Dublin: how organisations are innovating using design meth-
ods, the business of design in Dublin’s economy and the key areas of design
which are giving Dublin a competitive edge in international innovation.
key design industries and their impact on us…
Permeable boundaries in new technologies and media offer designers
opportunities to work in a range of industries and projects from
medical devices and animation, to on-line video games. Collabora-
tion between design disciplines and industry is now intrinsically
linked to the innovative drivers of our city, and to its larger social,
cultural and economic development. Irish designers have a great
focus on user-centred design; they know that design is about having
fun through learning, and just having fun; about finding new ways
of living in our city; about the touch of beautifully crafted materials
and objects and about sustainability and the environment, here and
around the world.
We are an open economy where our design industries create and
influence overlapping relationships between, government strategic
policy and our responsive education sector.
Design thinking connects between so many sectors. It is a part
of who we are, a part of how we define ourselves.
animation level educational and training infrastructure for anima-
The magic at the heart of animation is story telling. The tion, in Ballyfermot College and IADT in Dún Laoghaire,
Irish animation industry has thrived in the very area that has consistently turned out award-winning animators,
is fed undoubtedly by Ireland’s ancient tradition of oral and has contributed greatly to the strength and depth of
storytelling in Ireland, which goes back millennia. More quality in this industry.
recently, the spark that illuminated our animation skills Animation is a global industry where Ireland punches
was undoubtedly the decision of Sullivan Bluth, Muraka- far above its weight. Our success in animation, and the
mi – Wolf Swenson and Emerald City to base themselves cultural, social and economic profile we now have in this
in Dublin during the recession of the 1980’s. The impact industry, is a tremendous source of pride for our city and
of this cannot be overstated; it created more than just a wonderful inspiration to the next generation of Irish
employment, it created a space in which the animation animators.
industry could become part of people’s everyday lives.
In 2010, three Dublin animation graduates were nomi-
nated for Oscars; Dublin based Nicky Phelan of Brown gaming
Bag Films, Tomm Moore of Cartoon Saloon, along with Dublin has become a centre for the games industry. The
Richard Baneham who won the Best Visual Effects Oscar worldwide success of Emmy-award winning firms like
for his work on Avatar. International animation successes Havok, and the Digital Hub (a government sponsored
such as the ‘The Secret Of Kells’, ‘Roy’, ‘Picme’, ‘Octonauts’ initiative to promote digital media industries, which has
and ‘Granny O’Grimm’ are all Irish produced, designed used outreach programmes to make a hugely positive
and written. impact on the community of its inner-city location) has
Award winning studios currently leading the way also led to a cluster effect. Gaming is an industry where multi-
include Kavaleer Productions, Monster Animation, Jam national partnerships loom large, and where humour,
Media, Boulder Media and Caboom. Dublin’s strong third unpredictability and irreverence are assets.
Havok started out in Dublin in 1998, and is considered
to be a world-beater in the design of interactive software
Guitar Hero 3 Havok Irish School of Animation
Inga Reed Craft Council of Ireland
Enignum ii Joseph Walsh Furniture, Photo by Andrew Bradley
for digital media creators in the games and movie indus- craft
tries. Havok technology is being used in nearly 270 of Irish craft may be deeply rooted to our past but, as with
the world’s best-known games titles, with a further 130 fashion design, many of our young designers are also
in development. Havok-designed products are also used firmly looking to the future. A vibrant export business,
to drive special effects in movies such as the Matrix and it is part of the preservation of our cultural heritage go-
Harry Potter. Drawn by the success of indigenous firms ing back thousands of years. The Irish craft industry is
like Havok, Vivendi, Microsoft Games, Activision and EA flourishing with the help of The Crafts Council of Ireland,
Games have all set up in Dublin. government agencies and a growing appreciation of the
This is yet another design area in which our standing work of our talented designers by buyers worldwide.
is very high, because in the past five years, quietly, Dublin The major craft sectors are in pottery, glass, jewellery,
has become one of the largest online gaming hubs in the textiles (particularly knitwear) and furniture. Irish craft
world. Online gaming is $15bn industry worldwide with businesses are characteristically small in scale, however
500 million players and growing. The biggest console pub- the industry is a significant employer, while also provid-
lisher, the biggest massively multiplayer online (MMO) ing viable, sustainable enterprises. One of these is Shuttle
game publisher, the biggest social game developer and the Knit, a small knitting and weaving firm. Unique because
biggest gaming platform company all have a significant they don’t use patterns, they produce a range of ladies
design presence here: in fact, 60% of the top 20 games on knitwear, accessories and handmade woven throws. A
Facebook have been created by companies, like Zynga second is Superfolk, the nomadic design studio of NCAD
and Popcap, which are active in Ireland. These big indus- graduate Gearóid Muldowney. Superfolk’s heart is in the
try players bring significant revenue and resources to craft of production, whether that be hand-made or indus-
the local economy and culture of technology and digital trial, and the studio aspires to strike a balance between
innovation. craft and design.
New furniture designers making waves internationally fashion
include self-taught designer Joseph Walsh who fuses art Irish fashion is a small but high-profile and lively indus-
and craft, to create remarkable pieces from native Irish try; it is about high-end quality and points of difference
hardwoods such as olive, ash, elm, walnut, and sycamore. and is not associated with mass manufacturing. Fashion
Another designer garnering international attention is design in Ireland is very much associated with craft and
Sasha Sykes, who creates bespoke furniture. She draws the strong links between the material, the maker and the
her inspiration from traditional materials and crafts and, designer. Irish tweed, fine linen, knitwear, crochet and
working with acrylics and resins, she exposes the textures lace have played key roles in the evolution of an identifi-
and forms of straws, leaves, twigs, timber, mosses and ably Irish style. Indeed designer John Rocha, originally
lichens. from Hong Kong, is famous for his use of silk with fine
So much of Irish craft and furniture design created Irish linen.
objects which are a tribute to Irelands heritage and, are, in Irish fashion has evolved from the pioneering Sybil
a playful way, referring to an Irish way of life; one which Connolly and Neilli Mulcahy, whose adaptations of Irish
is rooted in the land, its animals and in its weather. These vernacular materials in the 1960’s made Dublin a rec-
conditions helped forge Ireland’s historical identity, yet ognised centre for couture, to today’s designers such as
Ireland can no longer be defined by these out-of-date con- Lainey Keogh, with her quirky Irish knitwear; Philip
cepts, and so Ireland’s current generation of craftspeople Treacy’s fantastical hats; and Pauric Sweeny’s ‘must have’
are using their skills to search for a new cultural language. handbags. Clothes designer Louise Kennedy also works
They are telling new stories, to the acclaim of new interna- in crystal and interior design. Paul Costelloe designs
tional audiences. clothes, homewares and jewellery. Orla Kiely is famous
for her bags, works in lifestyle design and fragrances, and
has collaborated with Citroën to design a limited-edition
car. Indeed six established Irish designers - Rocha, Keogh,
Costelloe, Treacy, Kennedy and Kiely - have all featured on
Irish postage stamps.
The newest wave of fashion designers includes Úna
Burke whose extraordinary leather creations have been
in demand by enthusiastic stylists, fashion agents and
photographers including Lady Gaga, who requested eight
pieces from Úna for her global Monster Ball tour – a com-
mission guaranteed to garner hundreds of column inches
in the international fashion media. The popularity of fash-
ion courses in third level institutions alone demonstrates
our pride and fascination with fashion and its impact
on society. Fashion in Ireland is always forward-looking,
always eager to turn tradition on its head, even when it
is taking inspiration from traditional materials. With its
emphasis on craft and quality, it creates a domestic mar-
ket for traditional raw materials such as wool and lace.
Piece 4 Úna Burke
‘By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn’,
a Latin proverb that could easily sum up the Irish experi-
ence in this new strand of digital based education. Ireland
has been a home to e-Learning advancement since the
1980’s. Ireland has an international reputation for its high
levels of education. Our national culture of respect for
education and lifelong learning was evident in our early
understanding of the potential for e-learning.
A catalyst for this industry and one of the early com-
mercial successes was CBT Systems (later called Smart-
Force), founded in Dublin in 1984. SmartForce went on
to become the leading e-learning provider in the world.
The company began trading on the NASDAQ in 1995 and
by the time the company merged with Nashua, NH based
Skill Soft in 2002, it had annual revenues of over $200 mil-
lion. Since that initial foray, Ireland has spawned dozens
of e-Learning companies, many of whom are now leaders
in their own respective areas of expertise and ongoing Interactive Book of Kells D&AD Global Design Award, XCommunications
pioneers of some of the most out-of-left field ideas. These
world leaders include: ThirdForce, an established provider
of e-learning to over two million learners in education,
government, healthcare, hospitality and commercial
organisations worldwide; and Interactive Services, a com-
pany that designs for Fortune 500 companies.
The e-Learning industry representative body, the Irish
Learning Alliance, advocates a business model that com-
bines entrepreneurship and partnership with research
institutions and state organisations.
Muzu TV website Frontend
Architecture is important to Dubliners. In recent years
some exceptional and iconic new urban landmarks have
transformed our landscape: from the Altro Vetro Building
to Daniel Liebskind’s dramatic new Grand Canal Theatre
at Grand Canal Dock; and from Calatrava’s elegant Samuel
Beckett Bridge on the Liffey, to the curvaceous and shim-
mering Aviva Stadium and the new Terminal 2 at Dublin
Airport. Despite the economic downturn and the decline
of the architectural sector locally, four recent Dublin
buildings have also secured places on the prestigious
shortlist of the World Architecture Awards: the Aviva,
the Grand Canal Theatre, the Long Room Hub and Tim-
beryard social housing – an award previously bestowed
on Dublin-based Grafton Architects for their acclaimed
Università Bocconi in Milan. The international profile
of Irish architects and architecture is certainly high.
Dublin has seen both urban renewal and suburban
expansion over the past 15 years and Irish architects
have been to the forefront of this recent dramatic change.
The reputation for Dublin as a city of new and wonderful
buildings, with many proven and talented designers
has never been more deserved. From improvements
in the quality of housing, to the regeneration of commu-
nities; and from the positive economic impact felt dur-
ing the years of construction to the revitalising of public
areas, the impact of this renewal and expansion cannot
Mews houses Waterloo Lane, Grafton Architects Church of St Moore and St Thomas Clancy Moore Architects
industrial design a range of highly successful products from cameras, secu-
Industrial design is a focused industry in Ireland. The rity devices and large gaming cabinets. Industrial design is
most well known product designers are a local based com- one area of design that is with all of us, all day, every day.
pany, Design Partners. They are a multi-award winning Is in an inherent part of our culture and society.
practice with an excellent reputation internationally for
designing keyboards, smartphones and gaming headsets
that are acclaimed both in design and commercial terms. medical technology
Their design approach is to collaborate closely with their Ireland’s medical technology sector is booming, and we
clients. Not only do they design, engineer and prototype; are now the second largest exporter of medical products in
they also build emotion understanding and empathy for Europe. Around 160 companies are involved in designing,
their designs. They have featured in Time Magazine Top developing, and manufacturing here, with over 90 of the
10 Gadgets 2010 for their Logitech Revue, the first Google companies being indigenous. Product designs range from
TV device, and have recently won 5 awards at the 2011 precision metal implants including pacemakers, to mi-
International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in croelectronic devices, orthopaedic implants, diagnostics,
Las Vegas. contact lenses and stents. Companies in Ireland includ-
Dublin also has many small firms who are special- ing Medronic and Teleflex, export €6.8b worth of medical
ists in the various disciplines of product design. Eighty- technology product annually and employ the highest
6Design excel in medical product design. Shane Holland number of people working in the industry in any country
is a leading luminary in the design of lighting and fur- in Europe, per head of population. Exports of medical
niture. The Kilkenny Design Consultancy has designed devices now represent 8% of Ireland’s total merchandise
everything from cookers to street furniture, from medical exports; and growth prospects globally remain good.
devices to coffee machines, and Boxclever have designed
Chair Mcor Technologies
The medical technology industry involves intensive col-
laboration between a broad range of partners, including
research institutions, clinicians, manufacturing com-
panies and government agencies. With expert in-house
teams such as the RCSI-CIST in Dublin helping to support
the innovation, testing, licensing and marketing of new
surgical devices and technology and advising on prototype
construction. The economic success of this industry has
direct two-way links with education because the high
standards of our education system (and our history of suc-
cess in related industries such as pharmaceuticals) mean
that a potential workforce to grow this sector exists. In
turn, the growth of the sector encourages students.
The recent construction boom in Ireland saw many high-
end engineering achievements, with the construction of
some of the city’s most innovative architecture and infra-
structure, such as the Samuel Beckett Bridge (Engineering
Ireland Excellence Award 2010), the Port Tunnel and the
Dublin Docklands development. From successful branch-
es of international engineering companies (ARUP Ireland,
White Young Green Ireland, Mott MacDonald Ireland) to
major Irish Dublin-based firms (O’Connor Sutton Cronin,
Tobin Consulting Engineers, Delap & Waller, Roughan &
O’Donovan), structural, civil and environmental engi-
neers represent a key design industry in the city. From
a bridge that helps get commuters home earlier in the
evenings to a tunnel that takes lorry traffic out of the city
centre, the impact of all these major engineering projects
on day-to-day city life is undeniable. Many of these top
firms are now working on current design and engineering
challenges in the city such as energy, waste management,
flood control and environmental management.
Software engineering has also been a strong sector
in the Irish economy over the course of the past 15 years.
During this time, Dublin has become known for its ver-
satile and creative software engineering. Currently home
to more than seven European headquarters of the most
successful IT companies, including Google, Microsoft,
IBM, Intel, Facebook and LinkedIn, Dublin is considered
as ‘the’ European hub for software engineering.
Aviva Stadium ME Engineers
Also many technologies developed by Dublin-based web service design
engineers have been integrated into the global websites of Better services and better service delivery have such a
the Hostelword reservation system, Cartrawler next gen- positive impact on day-to-day living and our social and
eration car rental distribution system, NewBay digital life- cultural interaction with each other. With the majority
style solutions, and Changing World personalised digital of these export-oriented services businesses are the core of
services solution. Dublin based Contrast Web Design are the Irish economy. In addition, our large public sector and
developing inventive and refreshing phone applications, third sector organisations have at their heart the delivery
while iQ Content are currently working on accessibility of quality services both at home and abroad.
and creating better websites for everyone. Like many Western Economies, this shift towards
services means new sets of skills must be developed. As an
emerging discipline globally, Service Design aims to apply
renewable energy technologies a design methods and thinking to the development of
Ireland’s ultimate goal, articulated by the Irish Govern- new services, providing better, more holistic experiences.
ment and by agencies such as Sustainable Energy Associa- Irish based designers are part of this global conversation,
tion of Ireland (SEAI) is to become self sufficient in, and through their professional networks, conferences and
a net exporter of, energy. Our strategic plan sees a future international work.
of strong export-led growth in the design of sustainable Irish companies such as Servitize whose focus is on
energy products and services. In the short term, Ireland’s ‘moving the customer to the centre of your business’ ap-
focus is mainly on wind technology, a main driver behind plies a design thinking approach to service development
a plan to have 40% of power generation from renewable by working their clients through the “Servitize Service
energy by 2020. While windmills in the Irish landscape Design Ladder” as a process for exploring their customer
are seen as the most obvious expression of that intent, in needs and designing innovative new services. Raymond
tandem a vast range of small and large companies have Turner Associates is a Dublin based design leadership
been making strides with their designs in progressive, consultancy. Turner has worked with British Aviation
research driven energy technology. Authority (BAA), the world’s largest private airport
While the sector is small in scale, it is already mak- company. His recent work on the £2.5 billion Terminal 5,
ing an impact outside of Ireland. The US energy secretary ensures that BAA’s investment in design was aligned to
recently signed a grant agreement with Wavebob, a com- its corporate mission of being the most successful airport
pany working on wave energy converters, to support the company in the world.
development of a commercial-scale wave energy demon- Dublin based designer Ré Dubhthaigh is a Design
stration project in US waters. Bord Gáis one of Ireland’s Associate on the UK Design Council’s Public Services
electricity companies is in advanced negotiations to take a by Design programme, working with public sector
stake in Openhydro, a Dublin-based tidal energy company organisations to radically innovate new services in light
whose Open-Centre Turbine is designed to be deployed of economic and social pressures. This programme is a
directly on the seabed. While SolarPrint, develops pho- recognised global leader for using service design in the
tovoltaic energy technologies, designed to convert light public sector. Dublin City Council have recently set up the
from any source into energy. SolarPrint’s technology has Studio, an internal team of design experts with the remit
been devised to work in the same way that a plant con- to improve service delivery and embed a service design
verts light to energy using photosynthesis. culture inside the council. While the national enterprise
All of our futures are dependent on technology and agency, Enterprise Ireland, is currently in the process of
design innovators coming up with solutions to help us establishing a services division, and are keenly aware of
harness alternatives to current energy sources. Irish the role design can play in developing new services and
designers are playing an increasingly active part in this. opening up new markets for Irish businesses.
the business of design
design statistics The creative industries are “those industries which
have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which
have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation
and exploitation of intellectual property”1. By this definition, Dublin
- a city of approximately 1,000,000 citizens - has a significant number
of people working in the creative industries.
Dublin has some 77,000 people employed in design-related in-
dustries (based on 2006 figures, which are the most recent available).
That is 59% of the national total, illustrating that Dublin acts as
Ireland’s creative core. Dublin’s employment in the creative indus-
tries in 2006 was over 12% of total employment. The Gross Value
Added of the creative industries in the Dublin area is estimated at
Industry Greater Dublin Area National Total GDA as a % of National
Advertising 3,736 5,173 72%
Architectural and engineering activities and related technical consultancy 10,718 21,106 51%
Manufacture of textiles 1,355 3,921 35%
Manufacture of clothes; dressing and dyeing of fur 1,237 2,854 43%
Tanning and dressing of leather; manufacture of luggage, handbags 88 328 27%
Motion picture and video activities 1,462 2,202 66%
Other entertainment activities 3,168 6,156 51%
Other recreational activities 2,597 5,257 49%
Publishing, printing and reproduction of recorded media 10,366 16,661 62%
News agency activities 262 392 67%
Computer and related activities 23,562 36,656 64%
Radio and television activities 3,580 5,070 71%
Miscellaneous business nec 14,895 25,050 59%
Total Creative Industries 77,026 130,826 59%
Total All Industries 800,240 1,930,042
Creative EMP as % of All Industries 10% 7%
From Defining and Valuing Dublin’s Creative Industries 2010 2
The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (1998)
Based on Census POWCAR dataset, Census 2006, www.cso.ie
design and jobs
Ireland had seen exceptional growth in employment up until the
global economic downturn, which began in 2008. This employment
growth was particularly evident in the creative industries. In 2006
Dublin accounted for 59% of all those employed in the creative in-
dustries. Nationally, industries such as architecture and engineering
grew by as much as 65%, and advertising by as much as 26% with
overall growth in the creative industries at 27.4%.
However, the economy has undergone considerable With the promotion of design and innovation recognised
change since these figures were compiled. Creative indus- as a means of recovery through national economic and re-
tries have been hit hard by the economic downturn. The covery plans, the creative industries are expected to grow
hardest-hit design profession has been architecture, with in the next number of years. The green shoots of revitali-
estimates suggesting that around 40% of architects lost sation are already evident with the ERSI (Economic and
their jobs between January 2008 and March 2009. It can be Social Research Institute Dublin, Ireland) announcement
assumed that many creative industries will have experi- of skill shortages in the ICT and gaming sectors, which
enced reductions in employee numbers since 2008. should result in further positive job growth in the forth-
The reducing employment opportunities in the cre- coming years.
ative industry sector have created an upsurge in informal
design activity. Designers are now creating products in a
number of highly inventive and cost-effective ways. They
are finding new routes to supplement changed incomes by
developing new skill sets in areas such as web and graphic
design, interior design and green technology.
Matthew Thompson Photo commissioned by Business to Arts
Profession 2000 2004 % Change
Advertising 2,241 2,831 26.33%
Architectural and engineering activities and related technical consultancy 10,668 17,344 62.58%
Arts/antiques trade 39,366 55,162 40.13%
Designer fashion 10,815 5,819 -46.20%
Reproduction of recorded media 5,815 5,103 -12.24%
Miscellaneous business activities 8,731 13,098 50.02%
Motion pictures and video activities 2,245 4,102 82.72%
Music and the visual and performing arts 3,042 6,367 109.3%
Publishing 4,183 4,539 8.51%
Software consultancy and supply 11,007 14,727 33.8%
Radio and TV C C
News agency activities C C
Total 98,606 125,649
From Creative knowledge workers in the Dublin region 2009 1
Matthew Thompson Photo commissioned by Business to Arts
dublin’s creative voice The belief was that by: unifying resources; working on
creative dublin alliance projects that solve our city region challenges through the
In 2009, arising from an Economic Action Plan for Dublin synergies created in the Alliance; and then delivering on
identifying Strong Leadership as a priority, a network of these projects, that the Creative Dublin Alliance can posi-
leaders was created across the local authorities, universi- tion Dublin as a creative, influential and new ‘successful’
ties, economic development, business & finance sectors, international city region.
and the creative and cultural industries to form the Cre-
ative Dublin Alliance.
Early on in its formation, the Alliance benchmarked
Dublin against other competitive cities in the global
economy, as it is generally recognised that cities, not
countries, compete against each other for investment, and
Dublin is Ireland’s only internationally competitive city
region. Successful cities attract talented, young, highly
skilled workers; are centres of innovation and entrepre-
neurship; and are competitive locations for global and
regional headquarters. Dublin is indisputably competitive
on all these fronts.
Dublin City The river Liffey and the bay, photo by Peter Barrow
Creative Dublin Alliance has also been actively involved in establishing
the following networking, collaborative and promotional creative
An annual festival of events showcasing innovation and creativity across Dublin.
economic action plan
An Economic Action Plan for the Dublin City Region led by the four Dublin local authorities
on three fronts of Strong Leadership, Vibrant Place and Creative People.
A design-led initiative that engages individuals through collaboration
and entrepreneurship to find solutions to Dublin’s future challenges.
An initiative to align teaching and research programmes in universities
to assist in managing and planning for the future of Dublin.
A Trinity-UCD project to develop Innovation as the third arm of the University sector,
along with Education and Research, with identified outputs in job creation and enterprise.
branding the city region
A strategy to brand Dublin as an internationally competitive
and creative city that attracts investment and talent.
A mapping project to identify and capture the formal and informal cross-agency and
cross-sectoral alliances and linkages that exist across key players in Dublin.
the 5th province dublin
To get Dubliners passionate about contributing to their city, via discussion forums,
events and project initiatives.
Power Wafer 7
partnerships to make a city better
ibm smarter cities
In cities across the planet, including Dublin, we see public
services operating in isolation with issues around co-or-
dination and collaboration across sectors such as hous-
ing, transportation, water, waste or public safety, having
proven difficult. By contrast, Smarter City services are
instrumented, interconnected, intelligent and interacting
In 2010, Dublin City Council announced a collabora-
tion with IBM to make Dublin a Smarter City ‘Test bed’.
IBM’s first Smarter Cities Technology Centre will be built
in Dublin. This centre is now home to a highly skilled and
cross-disciplinary team that is helping cities around the
world better understand, interconnect and manage their
IBM Smarter Planet Exhibition core operational systems such as transport, communica-
tion, water and energy. Smart Cities allow governing au-
thorities real-time information to make decisions. Experts
work and collaborate with city authorities, universities,
small and large businesses as well as experts from IBM
Research and the company’s Software Development Lab
in Ireland to research, develop and commercialise new
ways of making city systems more connected, sustainable
Some of the current collaborations between Dublin City and IBM include:
Transport and traffic management systems that allow for the display of real-time information and the development
of an integrated ticketing system.
Smart water metering to address Dublin’s water issues around cost and supply.
Energy use optimisation systems.
This collaboration and repositioning of Dublin as a Smarter City embraces
the latest technology to stimulate economic activity, and meets the challenges
of a globally competitive city for the future.
Picture Story Students and Cities
“ Researchers at the new Centre will investigate how advanced
analytics and visualisation techniques coupled with solutions
such as Cloud, stream, and high performance computing, can help
city authorities make optimal use of resources and so meet the
challenges of our increasingly urbanised world”
Dr. Katherine Frase, Vice President, Industry Solutions and Emerging Business at IBM Research
positive change through design thinking
design 21st century
Design Twentyfirst Century is a not for profit educational
foundation established by entrepreneurs Jean Byrne and
Jim Dunne in 2006. They believe that new ways of learn-
ing are needed to nurture a happier, healthier and more
Design Twentyfirst Century has evolved a method of
learning that uses design thinking processes and tools.
They call this model Learning to Learn. It answers the
need of how we can better equip our people – our greatest
asset - with the skills to solve complicated problems in a
much more socially inclusive and sustainable way.
Designing Dublin Street Conversation Designing Dublin Clongriffin Workshop
There are five unique qualities to the Learning to Learn concept:
Allowing people to interact with cities as living laboratories: By matching real world projects
with multi-disciplinary, real world people.
Mixing individuals from the private and public: This model is based on multi-disciplinary teams
who work collectively by leveraging the diversity of their thinking. Teams are made up of volunteers
who work full time (who want to learn design thinking and who want to contribute to the city),
and seconded staff from the client (in this instance, that would be Dublin City Council).
Allowing processes to produce outcomes: By establishing a set of tools and methodologies based
on design thinking that outline a clear and directed, but still flexible, creative process that produces
innovative ideas and outcomes.
Embracing an ethos of possibility and “yes we can” attitude: By approaching challenges
creatively, with an open, optimistic and curious mindset, we create the space for sustainable
innovation to occur.
Fostering individual responsibility and ownership: By producing intelligent, well-informed
and committed people to act, not just observe.
To date, Design Twentyfirst Century has run two pilot projects where they
have applied their Learning to Learn concept:
Designing Dublin 1.0 – Finding the Hidden Potential of Place in Clongriffin.
Designing Dublin 2.0 – Love the City in Dublin’s City Centre.
Both have been supported by the Creative Dublin Alliance in collaboration
with Dublin City Council. Throughout both projects, the multi-disciplinary Designing Dublin Positive Protest
teams involved have been tasked with collaborating with the people of the se-
lected areas to find solutions to the ‘real’ challenges faced by the Dublin City
Region. Teams conducted research, street engagements, ideated, iterated and
run prototypes… all with the aim of finding the best solutions that take into
account people’s needs and wishes.
Some of the outcomes from Designing Dublin 1.0 - Finding the Hidden
Potential of Place were:
500 people contributed to defining the project.
17 people joined the team.
1,700 ideas were produced.
18 concepts were sketched.
Five projects were developed.
300 residents engaged in the projects.
20 residents became project champions.
One developer engaged in the projects.
One team member started a new business.
One team member re-energised a start-up business through the new skills.
One team member started a PhD in citizenship engagement and social spaces.
Three team members returned to the public sector and challenged the system.
Five team members formed an innovation laboratory.
One business network was established.
Designing Dublin Hug Dublin
current design strategies
In the challenge to deliver sustainable livelihood and liveability, every city
on the planet is coming under increasing pressure from two angles: Firstly,
natural Resources such as oil, fish, timber, minerals, are becoming more cost-
ly and more difficult to access; and secondly, dealing with waste is becoming
more costly, and has critical local and planetary impact. Dublin City Region
has sought to respond to these challenges through its Development Plans,
its most important policy documents, and to embed design within these
as a fundamental platform.
The city’s approach has been to embrace a philosophy of urbanism,
which acknowledges complexity and adopts a holistic view of the city. The
six urban themes of: economy, culture, social, environment, movement and
urban form/spatial, constitute a framework to help manage and nurture this
complexity and the different issues and challenges that arise. The framework
can flip up to apply at a strategic regional level, or can flip down to drive the
process of plan making at a local level. The six urban themes can each express
a value system which helps articulate the shape of long term success, against
which current disconnects can be clearly identified.
This urban philosophy of place making has traditionally informed mod-
els as diverse as Temple Bar in central Dublin, new urban quarters in Dock-
lands and Adamstown in South County Dublin.
What is the true road to sustainability? In applying the six urban themes
the City would not necessarily be able to establish or measure whether real
progress was being made towards a sustainable future. The “Framework for
Sustainable Dublin” (FSD) incorporates “The Natural Step”, a rigorous and
proven systems approach which defines sustainability according to four
principles, and has a compelling methodology of use and application. The six
themes are therefore bookended with Sustainable Dublin at one end and Gov-
ernance at the other. Sustainable Governance means openness, transparency,
accountability and collaboration.
The Dublin City Region is committed to producing the first regional sus-
tainability report in 2012 and all Dublin Local Authorities are participating in
Father Collins Park, Abelleyro + Romero Architects & MCO Projects, photo by Anthony Woods
a Sustainable Indicators Project geared to produce a baseline audit. In meet-
ing the many challenges of designing and making a sustainable city, there is
a critical need to harness the energy of the city community and engender a
widespread culture of collaboration. The creative role here for the Local Au-
thority is to be the “Architect of Conversations”.
The Creative Dublin Alliance (CDA) brings together regional leaders with
a vision for a Creative Sustainable Dublin and its mantra is for Dublin to be
a trialling and prototyping city region. The CDA engages through projects
and research aimed at meeting the challenges of today and aspiring to make
the city of tomorrow from a replicable seedbed of innovation. Key projects
include: the first Regional Economic Action Plan which features three innova-
tion corridors linking the inner city to the region; (i) The Northern Corridor
to Fingal, the Airport and Swords (ii) The Western corridor from Heuston into
South County (iii) The Southern corridor from Trinity to UCD and Sandyford.
Design is fundamental to these initiatives, which aim to engage with the
city and its inhabitants in new, considered and energising ways.