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Creative

My Design West Summer School Experience

5 min read

Aisling Murphy, IADT graduate

by Aisling Murphy, IADT graduate

Guest Contributor

In June of this year, Design West hosted a summer school programme. The two-week residential programme, sponsored by Core, Ireland’s largest marketing communications company, was designed for those who want to immerse themselves in the world of design and experience postgraduate study at GMIT in Connemara. In her blog post Aisling Murphy, a student at IADT in Dublin, shares her experience.


This summer I was lucky enough to attend the Design West Summer School programme. I initially decided I wanted to attend Design West during my final year of my Viscom degree in IADT as I was fortunate enough that my portfolio won me a scholarship to the summer school in Connemara. I was delighted to be offered such an opportunity as I was blown away by Conor Clarke, Founder and Course Leader of Design West following a talk he gave at IADT.

Having said that, I had no idea what to expect and I went there with an open mind, curiosity and a little trepidation. On arrival we were introduced to the team and made to feel very welcome.

There were no expectations on what we had to get out of the two weeks which was a refreshing change from college, when there were always specific learning outcomes expected. As a result, I had to retrain myself to not focus so much on the end product but rather enjoy the journey.

The main objective of the course was the process of creating and encouraging the exploration of ideas. Where better to explore and be inspired then in beautiful Connemara (we also got great weather which was an added bonus!). At all times we were encouraged to make and play. We went on trips mostly in the first week, to the beach, up Diamond Hill and to Inishboffin. These trips helped to inspire us and to get to know each other. We were guided by a group of very talented experts who encouraged us to think creatively, with the first week dedicated to exploring our brief.

The second week involved some research into my brief and exploring the concept further. After careful consideration, for my design brief, I decided to reposition the existing branding of the oysters sold at Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only Fjord. My knowledge of oysters was limited and I had also never eaten one which was quite the experience! This gave me the idea to design a memorable experience for first-time oyster eaters.

My initial impression of oysters was that they were an elitist food – expensive and intimidating. I decided to challenge the stereotype and design a fun non-intimidating eating experience creating an origami bag that housed a single oyster held closed by a fork. The origami bag folds out into a placemat with instructions of how to eat an oyster. I also created fun posters to educate people about oysters and their habitat. Usually you buy oysters in 6s or 12s. My reasoning behind packaging a single oyster was so to create a friendly and  non-intimidating introduction for those who want to learn and taste oysters.

Design West was an amazing experience and one I will never forget. The tutors were so open and willing to help with everything. They encouraged us to challenge ourselves and they themselves demonstrated ‘out of the box’ thinking. Not only did I enjoy the course I was fortunate enough to have met a wonderful group of people, and got to explore the beauty of Galway.

As someone just starting out in their career, this was a wonderful opportunity and I was lucky enough to have been surrounded by a wealth of experience and creativity both from my follow participants and the tutors. I have no doubt that I will be seeking advice from them for many years to come.

As a designer, it’s easy to get stuck in a creativity rut and do things how you have always done them. Design West encourages you to explore, develop and challenge your design process. I would heartily recommend this experience to anyone that wants to get out of their comfort zone and to experience something completely different.

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