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Designing your own future

In the first in our series of interviews with future-thinking innovators, Zurich talks to two designers to see how we will live in the future and how they plan to carve out new opportunities for their business

David Craig and Niall Henry, co-founders of Dublin Design Studio are passionate about architecture, product design and how peoples’ lives can be transformed through good design. Together they have built their design firm since its establishment in 1999 and have grown a diverse client base and a strong reputation for quality and efficiency when it comes to complex builds.

They are as enthusiastic about design as they are about working for themselves. "An important aspect for us was the ability to choose the projects we wanted to work on because we’re interested in the creative side of architecture. You're in charge of your destiny, you have that creative flexibility and that's what we want,” Niall Henry says.

The designers are clearly driven and also inquisitive. “We are constantly asking ourselves what is the future home going to look like, how will buildings interact with a changing climate, how will peoples’ lives change and how will architecture adapt to their needs.”

Craig says that as designers they are always looking at what they can do now to make their designs future-ready. “When you're designing a house, you're looking towards the future. You have to look and see how you can maintain the environment you live in, and respond to the changing environment, both in terms of fuel costs, and possibly climate change as well.”

Henry agrees that while being future-first is all well-and-good, you need to have an idea of what the future will look like and how people will live in a number of years from now. “Essentially, we are trying to design something now that takes into account the client's needs and requirements over the next 30 to 40 years. That includes not just the use of the home in terms of flexibility and multi-functional rooms, but also in terms of sustainability, and running costs of homes.”

‘Lifetime’ housing is an area where the design duo don’t just talk-the-talk. “Designing a house now that is flexible and that takes on board what the future is going to throw at us is very exciting,” Henry explains. It's about designing a house that isn't the end of the sentence but rather the start of the sentence, and that's really important for us.”

Future-first approach

The tradition of making hurling sticks is steeped in age-old techniques, but Barry Reynolds is taking a future-first approach and transforming traditional ash hurls into composite ones.

Based in Newry and Belfast, the Reynolds Composite Hurley business has grown out of necessity and a deep passion for our national sport. When Barry Reynolds realised that the shortage of ash in Ireland could threaten hurling, he developed a material from an aerospace composite that emulated ash.

“A composite hurling stick is made in a mould with a particular composite mixture of materials,” he explains.

In terms of his own prospects, Reynolds has a positive outlook and enjoys being master of his own destiny. “I hold my future in my own hands. It's an awesome responsibility because it's not just my future, it's the future of my family and my children,” he says.

With regard to planning, Reynolds says: “I don't want a lot out of life, but I do want a good future for my children. I also want to look after my wife and myself in our old age. You can't be self-employed without continually thinking about the future.”

In the meantime the entrepreneur is happiest when he is innovating. “You don't reach a destination when you make a product. It’s a journey with lots of stepping stones along the way.”

Reynolds says it’s important to find new ways of continually improving. “It's a fast-moving world that we live in. People expect new things, better things, all the time. And when we make something, you have to be open-minded that maybe there is a way of improving on that and making it better in the future. And we are constantly doing just that.”

Undaunted by what lies ahead, Reynolds is enthusiastic about the future. “I look forward with excitement about the new things that can be done. There is a lot to play for out there and the future holds great potential.”

It's important to plan for the future. The choices you make now could make a real difference. Starting a pension is a smart decision. At Zurich we are here to help you every step of the way. Speak to a financial advisor or contact Zurich directly to find out how you can be Future Ready.

Zurich Life Assurance plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.