Friday 23 March 2018

If design is your cup of tea, your capital needs you

Nicola Anderson

IT may not be cutting edge like Seoul, have the solid industrial background of Turin or the eclectic style credentials of Helsinki, but Dublin is attempting to muscle in on the design world with an audacious bid for global recognition.

Though organisers admit Dublin is "neither recognised as a centre for world-class design nor can it claim to be", they say "it has the ambition, imagination and resources to become one".

Following a year of work behind the scenes, Dublin City Council yesterday announced that it is to lead the four local authorities in an effort to achieve World Design Capital status for the city in 2014, in competition with at least 50 other cities worldwide.

This year's title-holder is the South Korean capital, while Helsinki will have the title in 2012.

And while Seoul has LG and Samsung, previous title-holder Turin has Fiat, and Helsinki has Nokia, our lack of a major design-led global product shouldn't throw us off, say organisers.

The award recognises innovative cities that most effectively and creatively use design to improve communities and cities.

Not just about architecture, it encompasses all design -- from an integrated ticketing system for traversing the city to better kitchen countertops or even a state-of-the-art toilet.

Lord Mayor Gerry Breen said that while it would be an amazing achievement for Dublin to win, the "overwhelming value will be found in the process of making the bid".

And with cash flow a major concern, city architect Ali Grehan pointed out that Turin's entire budget for the year of its World Design status was just €7m, "more than amply repaid in terms of the tourists attracted".

Launching the bid at Dublin's City Hall yesterday, Ms Grehan said the theme of the bid was Pivot Dublin -- envisaging the city as a pivot point through which there was a constant flow and exchange of knowledge, skills and resources.

She urged anyone working in the design industry to get involved, suggesting that they come up with an idea "that connects Dublin, that makes Dublin flow or that makes Dublin smile".

"We maybe don't live as happily as we should in this city.

"We haven't really got the hang of apartment living or that the city centre is the most desirable place to live," she said.

Often the simplest ideas are the best when it comes to design, she said, revealing how an architect colleague commissioned to design a corridor connecting two buildings because people were getting caught in the rain found out that the simplest -- and cheapest -- solution to the problem was to place a bucket of umbrellas at each end.

Founding director of the Centre for Design and Innovation Toby Scott said Sean Lemass had been a visionary in terms of championing Irish design but that much of that initiative had "evaporated" over the years.

"Now we can go back 50 years and fulfil that promise," he said.

Irish Independent

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