IDI 2021 Recap

IDI 2021 Recap

As the year draws to a close we'd like to give you a recap of some of the things we have achieved in the last 12 months. We are grateful to all of our members for being a part of the IDI and helping us promote, advocate for, and advance, Irish Design.


  • Design Practice in Ireland report launched: Design, both as a process and as a profession, is increasingly recognised across the world as an essential activity in all areas of enterprise and public service. Design tools and methodology are now applied in all areas of innovation and change.The Design Practice in Ireland report gave a compelling and urgent view of the necessity to meet the opportunities available in the design sector, and the multi-faceted approach that will be needed to provide the upskilling and Continuous Professional Development required by designers to keep pace with and lead rapid workplace change.
  • Apprenticeship as outcome of Together for Design Report: The Together for Design Report, published in June 2020, established a working group in order to begin to address the shortfall in Irish Designers and grow capacity in the sector. As such, IDI has been working to develop an apprenticeship in digital product design, incorporating UX and UI disciplines, as part of the Expert Group for Future Skills Needs.



  • Why Design International Women’s Day event and Having the Chats series: Why Design hosted their annual International Women’s Day event. This year we heard Lauren Currie or Stride & UPFRONT and Niall O’Kelly of Adidas talk about creative confidence. This event kick started Why Design’s Having the Chats series hosted each month on Zoom. Follow Why Design
  • New European Bauhaus: In partnership with The Design & Crafts Council Ireland and the Irish Architecture Foundation, IDI co-hosted three information breakfast webinars to start a conversation about the New European Bauhaus initiative from the European Commission.⁠ New European Bauhaus wants to put the best creative minds together to conceive of beautiful, sustainable and inclusive ways of living that can be delivered across Europe.
  • Design Opp Launch: DesignOpp held their first virtual event on Thursday 25th March at 6pm on Zoom to celebrate their official launch. They had a host of incredible speakers up to talk about their experiences of racism in Ireland and their experiences of the Irish design and creative industry from a poc perspective. Follow DesignOpp
  • IDI Joins BEDA: The Bureau of European Design Associations (BEDA) has 51 Members from 26 countries within the geographical limits of Europe. The Members are leading design promotion centres (usually funded by Government/public money) and professional design and trade associations (usually funded by the design industry of that country). According to the BEDA Design Report 2.0 (2018), their professional design and trade association members represent, in turn, somewhere in the region of 800,000 individual designers across Europe. By joining BEDA, we have become closer to the Design Community throughout Europe.


  • Design Your Life videos: IDI worked with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland to produce a series of videos to promote design to young people and careers advisors as a viable career path. Launched at the Career Guidance Counsellor's Conference on April 17th, the 'Design Your Life' videos follow 5 designers through their education and decision making process to where they are working in industry today. As identified in the Expert Group for Future Skills Needs Report, Together for Design, we need to attract significant numbers into the design community if we are to meet the anticipated need by 2025.Many thanks to all those designers who participated, and to Board Director Danielle Townsend for her involvement. The videos can be seen HERE
  • New Membership Coordinator: In April we welcomed Sorcha O'Raw as IDI's new Membership Coordinator. Sorcha's role will be to support the CEO and the Board in delivering the strategic activities of the IDI, as well as being the first point of contact for all IDI members.She has worked in various fields including film, theatre, and several craft production studios. She holds an undergraduate degree from NCAD in Textiles and Visual Culture and a Masters degree from UCD in Arts Management and Cultural Policy. In her spare time, she is a practising embroidery artist with write-ups in Image Interiors, Totally Dublin, and To say hello to Sorcha, you can email her here:


  • Design Opp Mural: The talented Singaporean-Irish muralist Holly Pereira created a colourful mural on Charleville Mall featuring her interpretation of mixed race identity, ahead of DesignOpp featuring at the Irish Roots festival celebrating mixed race heritage.Her pieces can be seen all over the city, from the iconic Stoneybatter mural to her delicate hand-lettering in East Wall. Videographer Dan Dalton created an uplifting timelapse video of the artist at work, which can be seen here: is an initiative partnered with IDI to champion diversity in Irish design so that people of colour can fulfil their creative potential. With a focus on creating opportunities for people of colour, diversifying education and creating a community, we launched a directory in March featuring creatives of colour highlighting the Black and POC talent available in Ireland, which can be found at and we welcome submissions of all people of colour who wish to showcase their work. With thanks and gratitude to DCC (Dublin City Council) who supported DesignOpp through the launch event and provided a space and funding for Holly Pereira to create her piece. The speakers at the Irish Roots event were all members of the diversity-seeking initiative and include DesignOpp founder and brand strategist Greg Osbourne, founder and multidisciplinary designer Grace Enemaku, illustrator Ashwin Chacko, and muralist Holly Pereira. They spoke about the benefits of design and creativity as well as discussing how their multiracial identity has influenced their creative work.
  • Design Your Life podcast series begins: This series was developed by IDI and DCCI to promote design as a career path for school leavers, and features design graduates talking about their education, career path and current role. You can listen to the podcasts here


  • Graduate Awards opened for entries: The Graduate Awards reward outstanding and innovative design by new designers who are still at the early steps of their career. Graduates of colleges with up-to-date IDI membership can enter as many times as they like for FREE!
  • Main Awards opened for entries: Every year, the Institute of Designers in Ireland Awards celebrate and promote Irish design, nurturing future talent and setting creative benchmarks for the industry. The entries we receive across multiple disciplines reflect the best work produced in Ireland - or by Irish designers overseas - during the past 12 months. Entry was open to both members and non-members this year, €50 for members and €100 for non members


  • Creative Futures Academy: Our CEO Charlotte currently sits on the industry panel for the Creative Futures Academy, a new 3 college initiative between NCAD, IADT and DCU that, with €10m of HCI funding, has a remit to develop new programmes of learning that promote creative careers.


  • Design Skills Implementation Group: Year in Review 2020-2021: This was the first annual progress report produced by the Design Skills Implementation Group. The Group was formed on the foot of recommendations arising from the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) 2020 Together for Design report. This report focussed on the digital, product and strategic design skills required by enterprise over the period of 2020-2025. The report issued a series of recommendations to drive the change required to address the gap between skills demand and supply over this time period.
  • Design CIRCLE announced: IDI is delighted to have supported the Junior Cycle Teachers (JCT) and Design and Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCI) to deliver DesignCIRCLE, an opportunity for designers to work with post-primary teachers to share their knowledge of design processes to apply in their working practices. The aim of this initiative is to provide a safe, supportive, and experiential space for post-primary teachers to further develop their own design processes. Each designer was assigned a group of up to 5/6 teachers. Based on a given theme, the designer facilitates the group through a design project. Designers undertake the design project alongside the teachers, highlighting their working practices and design processes, sharing sketchbooks and experimentations, encouraging the teachers to further develop their own practice through any medium.Design Circle is ongoing through to April 2022.


  • The New Now launches: Created by the Institute of Designers in Ireland and the Design Skillnet, The New Now recognises the challenges faced by new design graduates in getting a foothold in industry, and confidently entering the market.It also recognises the challenges faced by employers in hiring quality graduate talent, and seeks to provide a straightforward route to identifying, nurturing and hiring the right creative fit.By registering to be part of The New Now, early career designers can enjoy:⁠
  •  Graduate membership of the IDI⁠
  • Graduate membership of Design Skillnet⁠
  • Access to exclusive events & training to help you get hired (CV reviews, interview, prep, etc.)⁠
  • An assigned mentor⁠
  • Networking opportunities (with both employers and peers)⁠
  •  Portfolio reviews⁠

...AND MORE⁠The New Now is ongoing through to May 2022.

  • IDI lunchtime forum series: Following the success of the Design Skillnet’s Agency Owners’ Forum, the IDI launched a series of lunchtime forums. Held on a monthly basis, Each forum will be hosted by a different lead, who will open the conversation with a particular topic of relevance to you and invite all participants to engage in discussion and shared problem-solving.⁠
  • Ideal Home Show: IDI was delighted to support its Interior Designer members at this year’s Ideal Home Show, returning to the RDS the October bank holiday weekend. The IDI was invited to be the professional association to host the highly popular  ‘Interior Design Hub @ Ask An Expert’ alongside the RIAI


  • Main Award ceremony: The IDI Awards 2021 were celebrated online on Thursday, 11th November, 2021, showcasing the talents of designers & collaborators across Ireland, and Irish designers based abroad.Despite the challenges of another covid-impacted year, the creativity and quality has not disappointed, and we are honoured to give designers a platform to share their work and lift up each other’s successes.From impactful photography to combat racism through to jewellery inspired by rats’ teeth; from Guinness microdraught innovation through to industry-changing educational programmes, the breadth of projects truly shows the impact of Irish design on business, culture and creativity.More of this inspirational work and creators can be seen here.
  • Graduate Award ceremony: The IDI Graduate Awards Ceremony was held over Zoom on Tuesday 9th November 2021. Nearly 500 entries were received and were judged by 48 design professionals and academics from across Ireland. Congratulations to everyone who was shortlisted and to the winners. They represent the best of the freshest talent in Irish Design. Previous IDI Graduate Awards winners have gone on to have phenomenal careers. We can't wait to see what the future holds for them. Special congratulations to the Grand Prix winner Harriet Yakub.Find the full list of winners here
  • Creative Foundation Programme with The B!g Idea: In November, the IDI and The B!g Idea began work on the Creative Foundation Programme. The trial of a Creative Foundation Programme is designed to provide students with a pathway from Senior Cycle into an undergraduate degree programme or potential apprenticeship into the creative sector or beyond. It is specifically intended to be a foundation programme that will help students to bridge the gap between their school qualifications and the demands of a university degree or a creative apprenticeship.
  • Main Awards prize giving: We were delighted to host this year's IDI Awards winners 2021 for an in-person prize giving event at Jameson distillery, Bow St. In order to comply with regulations this year’s prize giving was a small but wonderful celebration. Congratulations to all our winners! Thanks to The Mix for sponsorship and for giving us use of their Bow St venue. We hope to have a proper in-person event next year.
  • Universal Design Webinar: This webinar was held on Monday the 29th November, as part of a partnership between The Institute Designers Ireland (IDI) and Design Skillnet, in conjunction with the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) the National Disability Authority(NDA).Universal Design, also called inclusive design or Design for All, is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. The Universal Design for All process prioritises the needs of users that have the more diverse abilities and characteristics, by involving users, and by using knowledge about accessibility and usability in its organisational processes and procedures. We heard from champions of Universal Design, ALONE Ireland and IDI Award Winners Dolmen Design, early adopters of new continuous improvement standard  EN 17161. We learnt from Professor Liz Sanders, founder of Make Tools and author of Convivial Toolbox: Generative Research for the Front End of Design, who presented her Generative Design Method Cards – only available to attendees of this event! Going beyond the survey – to methods for designing with people using participatory Co-Design, Liz’s research and publications explore what people Say and Do and on to what they really Think and Feel to inform any design activity towards true innovation.


  • The Irish Business Design Challenge: Our CEO, Charlotte Barker is a judge in Design and Craft Council’s (DCCoI) Irish Business Design Challenge. The Irish Business Design Challenge is an initiative of Design & Crafts Council Ireland in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices, supported by the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment . Increasingly design is being used across all sectors and is adding significant value to the Irish economy. This competition aims to highlight best practice examples of design in Micro, Small and Medium enterprises across Ireland. The purpose of the Irish Business Design Challenge is to identify these businesses and highlight their innovations.