Deadbeat Creative Company
ART POSTER.jpg

A R T

The art section of the Deadbeat site will include artist interviews, exhibition reviews, recaps and personal projects incorporating illustration and collaboration.

Designer Small Talk @ Cafe 31


Cafe 31, North Street, Belfast, played host to another great Belfast Design Week event on Friday 6th November, Designer Small Talk. Barney (artist, Brian Kielt), Eoin (Emic) and I decided to take a break from the LOFT to attend. The NI Design Alliance event was billed as a discussion between a panel of designers on topics that will influence the future of design in Ireland, helmed by research professional, Ruth Flood of RF Associates. We grabbed a cup of coffee, took our seats and prepared to listen attentively. I decided to apply a similar note taking format, taken to the HomeGrown recap, for the rest of this post, with some quotables and interesting points being raised.


_Ruth kicks of the discussion by outlining the value of design to the UK economy, around £71 billion. From there, the discussion moves to education, the business of design, UX Design (rather contentiously) and perhaps, whether or not new technologies are shaping the future of design. I've summarised some points/ quotes from each panel member below inter spliced with my own commentary.

_Why do we have to work so hard to raise the profile of design? Where does the disconnect come in?

Marc O'Riain

_References the Report of the Scandinavian Design Group in Ireland in 1962. Irish people suggested to have a poor appreciation for visual arts/ design. Catalyst for change.

_Design education is key. There is a danger in not understanding the core methodology of design.

_Storytelling is incredibly important in selling design. Clients buy an idea.

_Gave an example of new E&Y offices being valued at 25% more than the original investment. Good design is the difference. We must improve at analysing the impact.

_Designers are terrible at business.

_Recommended Iterations, Ireland's first Design Rearch and Practice Review.

Michelle Douglas

_Design is a behaviour, practice and process.

Brings an outside perspective, pursuing a career in London, returning a couple years ago, after 16 years.

_Believes design is potentially undervalued and suggests poor growth here comparatively to the rest of the U.K. and the world.

_Educators must stay close to the cutting edge of the industry.

_Equip graduates with the skills. Create a balance and then diversify thereafter.

_Sees the global importance of UX Design to the industry in terms of creating jobs.

Stephen McGilloway

_Product design is about showing the bottom line to clients so there's less difficulty in showing great design's worth.

_Business comes first, design second. When it flips, you're an artist, and artists don't make money.

_Demonstrated a certain level of disdain for UX Design or at least the term. Cares for the more tangible.

_Combined approach creates a better result. 

_Everything's trying to be "smart". Believes product design to be small,niche and under utilised in Northern Ireland.

Leo Scarff

_As a designer, focus on what you're good at and put together a creative team to help make it a success.

_Networking is key. Meeting of minds allows you to carry out defined tasks extremely well. Have the basics in business and focus on the design, if that's your strength.

_Product design in Ireland doesn't necessarily have the heritage it does in other nations.

_Advocate for Irish production or sourcing local, well made, beautifully designed products but potentially having to justify this to clients.

_Democratisation of 3D printers is ground breaking in terms of innovation. Our open source culture, being able to print whatever you want is just the beginning. 


The event was a success for many reasons. The discussion, extremely informative, yet informal. As Barney commented, not coming from a design background, he still found it very engaging. Eoin mentioned the designers talked as though they were artists for the most part, which I found intriguing. The setting, Cafe 31, is a beautiful space. The debate could have continued for much longer than an hour which is promising as it allows for opportunity to expand the conversation and shows a hunger for knowledge in design. Again, Belfast Design Week proving it's worth in parallel to the industry. Look out for the recap from our BDW Drink & Draw at ADF on friday night coming soon. Thanks for reading.