Ireland has not always considered itself a design nation. Yet our understanding of what good design means has evolved as companies recognise its commercial potential across sectors.
One milestone occurred when the Design & Crafts Council delivered Irish Design 2015 on the behalf of Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Since that year-long programme, the commercial impact of design in Ireland has continued to evolve. Businesses that may once have viewed design as inessential, now recognise its potential to shape business results.
For today’s exporters, an approach to design should embrace two main elements: technology and user experience. Technology describes how a product functions, and user experience how customers engage with the solution, or more importantly, how the solution engages its users. The importance of both has been clear to B2C companies for some time, with the iPhone a famous example of excellence in both. Awareness has spread to less obvious applications, like the production of agricultural machinery. Manufacturers in B2B industries now understand that design can make products look efficient, so that a user’s impression of quality is often shaped by design.
“Exporters, in particular, must treat design as strategic. Customers in different markets often have different responses to technology and user experience. It cannot be assumed that design will translate across markets.”
Exporters, in particular, must treat design as strategic. Customers in different markets often have different responses to technology and user experience. It cannot be assumed that design will translate across markets. What good design looks like in Ireland is often different to what it looks like in France. Companies must, at the very least, consider how to adapt technology and user experience for each market targeted.
Enterprise Ireland supports more and more companies to give design the focus it deserves. The success of Marco Beverage Systems, a hot water delivery systems company, has been fueled by design-driven innovation. Paul Stack, Operations Director, explains that design transcends surface styling, saying, “The main considerations for our design team are energy efficiency, beverage excellence and design excellence, incorporating user experience and aesthetics.” With just under 100 employees globally, the company’s products can be seen in significant locations, including Starbucks, Bewley’s and Costa Coffee. Stack comments, “A reputation for good design and innovation increases your brand value and drives sales all by itself.”