Interaction Design in Ireland: Part 4

Eoin Smith

Digital Media Designer

This is part 4 of an interview series on Interaction Design, we will be sharing the series of posts via our blog from Darren Mealiff, a student from IT Carlow’s Product Design & Innovation Department, an Interview on Interaction Design with our Director of User Experience, Séamus Byrne. Follow along as Séamus answers some very interesting questions about Interaction Design.


If you missed Part 3 check it out here.

Darren – 

What are your views on design how education in Ireland compares with your experiences abroad?

Séamus – 

Design education here can be quite stringent and quite strict, where as in the States it can be a bit fluffier while still expected to be top quality.  There is more focus on collaboration and a lot more focus on what are these things underpinned with. In Ireland we learn a lot of tools and the role of technology, but there is also why we do this as humans, I have a degree in sociology so I’m always interested in the human factors of things, for me it’s about storytelling, it’s about community and about place, it’s a bigger concept.  I think there needs to be a stronger focus on these key ideas they underpin, all the reasons why we produce technology and why it’s interesting as humans to us. I sometimes think it is haphazard how we put people together in the studio or classroom, we not matching people and their skills up very well. Sometimes you could have a team of 4 designers or 3 programmers and they might do a very good project, but I think it’s very important to be able to measure the success of the learning experience.  I mean if I go into college as a designer and want to learn a little about business or technology I could do a masters project for 2 years but I may not come out of it feeling I’ve developed any new skills.  However there’s a lot of dynamics, and I know it’s not easy but I certainly think we can improve upon that.

Also encouraging people to present, I mean most of the time as a designer we will be presenting concepts or ideas.  What I learned in the states is that it is like a boot camp for presentations, we were encouraged all the time, I think it goes back to the show and tell culture from their high school.

I think sharping the skills of how we work with people who are control freaks or are not contributing and so on, these are the skills that will really help your design in the real world get across the line. Quite often we can be brilliant intellectuals about design, we think it can be really conceptual and intriguing and it may be, but in my opinion it’s not successful unless it’s been used by somebody.  If it stays on your desk and does not get programmed or built or deployed, then it’s not a successful design, because no one is actually using it, it might be conceptualised and might be very strong but it’s not being utilised.

To answer your question I think there’s a lot of programmes in Ireland education wise and some are very good and very strong but some of them aren’t.  I think coming up with certain criteria and standardisation around design is something that we should be encouraging and somewhere all the different design educational institutions can touch base and connect to a frame work that raises the bar and raises the standard, just like they would have in the Netherlands.