Map Irish Design explores a decade of design in Ireland and its impact on society

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A huge research project by 100 Archive – an online platform dedicated to Irish communication design – has examined a decade of design projects to come out of the country, and their impact on life, culture, business and society. Map Irish Design looks at around 2300 projects gathered since 2010, mapping their source: who is making them, where and with whom, and covering everything from posters for club nights to international corporate rebrands and social movements.

Together, it paints a picture of how Ireland has changed in a decade, and the design that has been integral to that evolution. Funded by the Creative Ireland Programme through its National Creativity Fund, it hopes to promote the industry and the importance of progression in the country.

Key findings of the research show that, while the cultural sector in Ireland doesn’t offer the budgets of other nation’s industry’s, it commissions the highest amount of communication design projects. The three referendums that have dominated the news in recent years – Marriage Equality, Brexit and Repeal – also feature heavily among the projects, showing the prevalence and impact of design in those campaigns.

Notably, communication design projects in the architectural sector barely feature in the earlier years of the study, which is when the recession crashed the property market and grew steadily from 2013 onwards.

Another interesting finding is that the proportion of work coming from the rest of Ireland versus Dublin or overseas has more than doubled, from eight per cent in 2010 to 19 per cent in 2018.

Aideen McCole, who led the project for 100 Archive, explains that the data provides proof of how impactful good design can be to effect change, and is particularly relevant now during the pandemic. “Design affects all of us, all the time, and I think that’s been even more clear in recent times, from how we receive vital information — or dangerous misinformation — to the design of our cities. Can we all move around safely, with enough space for social distancing for example? Even the design of our social services, needed more urgently by more of us than ever before. We are massively impacted by the decisions people make to shape what things look like and how they work. Anything that helps all of us to recognise and understand that is valuable.”

She adds that by interrogating our surroundings from a design perspective was “fascinating” and pertinent now because “while we’re all looking at super familiar environments non stop, [design] can totally change how we see what’s around us. Map Irish Design is a resource to help us do that and help us see just how much design permeates the everyday.”

Map Irish Design can be explored online via a resource including videos, motion graphics, data visualisations and other imagery, under four themes: building culture, changing value, shaping the everyday and expanding our horizons.

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