Observations on maintaining a strong organisational design culture

A lot of factors are at play within an organisation that hinders or helps good design to happen. Investing effort into maintaining a strong design culture is important.

For a good design culture to thrive certain things need to be in place. I’ve outlined some factors that should be prioritised by organisations who are serious about promoting a strong design culture.

Some of these observations can relate to any discipline — but I’m looking at it through the perspective of being a designer (and design manager). …


Balcony with slit to create better air flow, White City, Tel Aviv.

I was in Tel Aviv earlier this year and took the Bauhaus tour around the ‘White City’. A UNESCO heritage site of over 4,000 buildings built in the 1930’s in a locally adapted form of International Style architecture. The tour was good and the guide went into some nice details about the nuances of the Israeli output of the modernist movement.

When these architects moved to Tel Aviv many of them were still learning their craft. Some had studied in the Bauhaus and moved to Israel with relatively little experience. They had a blank slate to build on (it was…


Flag stating ‘Information is Power — if you understand it’

I put this flag up in work a couple of weeks ago. It caused a bit of a conversation and people had different interpretations of what it meant. I thought it best to explain the way I intended it.

The piece initially came about after a workshop I did with the students at Cardiff School of Art and Design on their module called ‘Information is Power’.

The concept of power is a complicated thing. It means different things to different people. Often power is treated as a zero-sum game. …


As I’ve taken on more management and leadership responsibilities my role as a designer has become more complex. These responsibilities are tough, energy sapping, but very important. They help facilitate an atmosphere where you can have a good, happy and productive team. Giving them the space to do great work.

There are many factors at play that can have a negative impact on these things. Dealing with those factors can be difficult. You don’t truly realise this until you have to face them. These are some of the things I’ve learned.

Know when to step in

Managing and mentoring other designers is rewarding and difficult…


I’ve sifted through many CVs and see common mistakes occur time and again. I thought I’d share some tips based on this experience.

A CV should give a concise overview of your competencies and experience. It validates the work you stated you have done and education level you have reached. It’s a doorway to your portfolio, not a portfolio piece in itself.

1. Your CV will probably be the first point of contact with a potential employer. …


This year Ireland is promoting its design credentials. It’s a good thing. On the back of the (almost successful) push for Dublin to be World Design Capital of 2014, momentum is building for design to be recognised as a core part of the new post-recession Ireland.

We are an island full of talented designers, crafts people and general creative minds not limited to either of those fields. In a broader context though, we (as a nation) have a narrow-minded view of what ‘design’ is and what areas it can or should permeate. To many design is seen as:

  • Furniture and…

Stephen McCarthy

Designer at Government Digital Service

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