Design in Government “Impact for All” & Design Principles for Government in Ireland.

John Lynch
4 min readOct 29, 2022

Friday, 28th of October, will hopefully go down as a big day for the people-centered design of public services in Ireland.

‘Design in Government — Impact for All’ a conference supported by Creative Ireland, delivered by Institute of Designers in Ireland, and in partnership with Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, marked the launch of “Designing Our Public Services” — Design Principles for Government in Ireland.

For the design community, including colleagues, friends, and mentors I’ve known for years, this was a moment long awaited — when the Irish public service would recognise, and commit to design and the huge potential that it offers. A means by which to tangibly innovate, improve, and deliver public services.

Minister Catherine Martin, TD — “Better design provides a means by which we can offer improved public services. Placing people at the centre of our approach, prototyping ideas before they are launched or finalised.”

The day began with an address from Catherine Martin, T.D., and Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. The Minister’s department, through the Creative Ireland programme is a huge force in advancing design, a creative industry, as part of public policy.

Lou Downe — “Good Services are Designed”

The first keynote of the day was from the inimitable Lou Downe. Who better than Lou, who founded the discipline of Service Design in the UK government, to set up the day and lay out a vision of just what “Design in Government” means?

Mari Nakano — “What kind of Ireland do we envision? What will it look like? What will it feel like? What might it smell like?”

Later in the morning, Mari Nakano, former Service Design Director with New York City Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, delivered our second keynote. Mari turned the lens to impact — with provocative case studies and metrics, but also stories of how design impacted the work of teams at NYC.

After lunch Michael McGrath, T.D. and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform delivered a video message. Minister McGrath’s Department is leading the rollout of Design in Government, starting with the development this year of “Designing Our Public Services — Design Principles for Government in Ireland”.



John Lynch

Design is my job. I'm Irish, ex Copenhagen/London, now back in Dublin. Founded Context Studio to improve life in Ireland through Service Design.