Creativity, independence, heart: the future of design

As the Offset design conference kicks off, we ask designers what lies ahead, and look at the best of what’s on offer this weekend


Offset, the three-day creative conference with a focus on contemporary design in several un-pigeon-holed forms, brings two dozen buzzing minds together this weekend, detailing their creative processes, work, influences, aspirations and intentions. Attendees in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Grand Canal Dock will be there to soak up some inspiration, chat to like-minded people, and gain an insight into how leaders in design, illustration, animation and beyond go about being the best.

While Offset commands international respect in terms of the speakers it attracts globally, part of its success has been an ability to curate a pertinent depiction of creative work in Ireland, from filmmakers to photographers, illustrators to animators. Two of the Irish speakers this year are Ciaran ÓGaora of brand, design and communications studio Zero-G, and Eoghan Kidney, a director of short films and music videos who is embarking on a new venture. Over the weekend, they’ll be talking about their work on Offset’s main stage, so we asked them the thing that no one working in a creative industry wants to be asked: what tomorrow holds. If Offset is a forward-thinking gathering, then what will the future bring?


does the future hold for your industry or niche?
Eoghan Kidney

, eoghankidney.tumblr. com, With film and TV, I think a good gauge is to look at how music is doing and add a few years to it. Maybe we’ll see an all-encompassing streaming service á la Spotify. More quality, independently localised film, TV and web productions. Much heavier marketing and product placement in big budget films and TV, although this will probably be hard in Game of Thrones . A lot more money being made in merchandising. Games will continue to evolve and deliver emotion to stories in ways film can’t.

Ciaran ÓGaora , Design as a process has a bright future as it is a way of thinking and problem solving that is vital if we are to address the many social challenges that face us.

My particular area of design concerns itself with communication and culture within organisations, and not just the relationship between a business and its customers or clients.

As such, we use the process of design to inform the way in which organisations act and think. This is essential for organisations that need to adapt to change, and design offers an iterative process that lets them do this in a positive way.

What are the most important tools being utilised right now that will become more crucial?
EK: Coding. Animators will need to code more and more. Filmmakers already need to know how to hack cameras and software to achieve certain looks or styles. I would say the cameras we will use in 10 years will be almost indistinguishable from cameras today with faster, better, smaller lenses, super hi-def sensors, and, most importantly, really good Kinect-like depth perception and spatial awareness.

CÓG: The most important tool that we possess right now, and one that will become more crucial, is our own creative ability – mind, brain, heart – whatever part of the body you wish to assign this ability or ‘tool’ to. Technology is democratising areas of design and technology that previously would have been the preserve of so-called experts or professionals.

What is required now more than ever is the ability to create and imagine things that don’t yet exist. This is not just an innate ability that only some people have. It is an ability or skill that a culture or society can foster. The ability to use technologies and apply those that already exist should be seen as a given, not a differentiator.

What trends do you see unfolding, good or bad?
EK: More crowdfunding. I hope to see the first crowdfunded box-office hit happen soon. More emphasis on hardware development and new forms of tools emerging from the cloud. A bad trend is probably cloud-based, too – people keeping all their work on a computer in Asia. I’m also afraid American film is going to be completely taken over by people in capes and talking animals because they’re easy to sell merchandise for. I’d like to see augmented-reality gaming and filmmaking happen.

CÓG: We have seen the growing commodification of design services over the last 15 years.

This is neither good nor bad in itself but it does provide a challenge to creative agencies who have built their business on a model that no longer offers any real value.

Crowdsourcing design is an interesting example of commodification. Crowdsource sites provide clients who use the service with a cheap identity or logo. What it doesn’t provide, however, is a process that will help a client to look at their business in new ways and identify new opportunities in service delivery or untapped potential within the business.

This is the real value that good designers offer and a fact that can be lost on many prospective clients, who see design as a veneer to be applied as a decoration.

What about the future of your own work?
EK: I still want to make a good old-fashioned feature film when I’m ready. I’m also involved in creating new filmmaking tools and apps, specifically a service called Rotor, which we’ll launch at Offset. I was involved in the making of a game this year, so hopefully I can do that a bit more.

COG: Good design is often the result of a good relationship with clients that are brave, smart and visionary. As regards projects I would like to be involved in, I’d like in some way to inform or influence the manner in which design is commissioned and understood at a government and agency level in this country.

A rising star for the future?
EK: I really liked The Comedy with Tim Heidecker directed by Rick Alverson. My filmmaking friends Barry Murphy, Carly Blackman, Andrew Keogh, Oonagh Kearney, Conor Horgan, Hugh O’Conor, Tim Redfern and Stephen Agnew inspire me.

COG: Greg Dunn ( is an independent documentary maker and photographer. Stephen McCarthy is a designer currently working with the Government Digital Services (GDS) in London.

Eoghan Kidney will speak at Offset today at noon. Ciaran OGaora will speak on Sunday at 6pm. See

Five of the best Offset events

Kate Moross
Main Stage, Sunday, 4pm
You’re probably familiar with Moross’s work even if you don’t know her name. Jessie Ware’s art direction, Simian Mobile Disco’s artwork and her distinctive covers for the ‘Guardian’ Guide supplement make her one of the coolest graphic artists around.

Niamh Sharkey, in conversation with Calef Brown
Second Room, Today, noon
Ireland’s laureate for children’s literature has a chat at noon in the second room today, but if you miss that, on Saturday morning, Sharkey will speak on the main stage at 10am about her creations for Disney Junior, Brown Bag and more.

Le Cool Dublin presents Panicdotes
Second Room, Saturday, 4pm
Always looking at things through a delightfully skewed lense, Le Cool hosts a talk about what happens when things go wrong; grumpy clients, collapsing deadlines, and rising above screw-ups.

Chris Silas Neal
Main Stage, Sunday, noon
Neal’s beautifully delicate illustrations have won praise from the ‘New York Times’ and last year he picked up an EB White Read Aloud award.

His work graces everything from Lykke Li tour posters and Sub Pop festivals to ‘New York Times’ supplement covers and book jackets.

Ji Lee
Main Stage, Saturday, 1pm
Facebook’s creative strategist and a former creative director at Google also worked at Droga5 and Saatchi & Saatchi, but his personal projects are also impressive, such as the Bubble Project and the brilliantly simple Famous Objects From Classic Movies.