So Long, Farewell...

24th June 2022
by Aideen McCole

Cover image: So Long, Farewell...

After six great years, I am stepping down from my role at the 100 Archive. In this time, I have managed our operations, brokered relationships with public funders, academic and cultural institutions and like-minded organisations, delivered six Archive Selections and led our biggest project to date, Map Irish Design. I have also done my best to future proof the organisation by implementing a structure which brings the 100 Archive in line with not-for-profit best practice. I am, and will continue to be, immensely proud of what I have done with what I consider to be Ireland’s most innovative and valuable design organisation.

I would like to think that in this time I have brought particular capabilities and insights. But really, the past six years have been characterised by collaboration: it has been the skills, perspectives and enormous efforts of many volunteers that has meant that the 100 Archive could make the strides it has. I would like to take this opportunity to thank a huge number of people who have contributed to our work since the 100 Archive was founded in 2012.

Our core activity is the creation of an annual selection of 100 archive-worthy examples of contemporary Irish communication design. Every three years a new group of 10 come together to make this selection and give significant time and energy to this endeavour. Thank you to all panellists who have worked on this since 2012, with a particular thanks to our current cohort: Deirdre Breen, Rory Bradley, Jack Collins, Emma Conway, Sinead McAleer, Michael McDermott, Mel O’Rourke, Danielle Townsend, Killian Walsh and Jason Wilson-Max.

Alongside this, we present, discuss and contextualise design through articles and commentary. Many designers, educators and writers have contributed to this since 2012, and in the past three years this was led by Anusia Grennell, Lara Hanlon, Rosanne Lancaster, Clare Lynch and Brian Byrne. Recent contributions have been made by Keelin Coyle, David Joyce, Rosanna McGuirk and Áine O’Neill, while you’ll soon be reading articles and insights courtesy of Conor Foran, Kevin Horan, Michelle O’Connor and Laura Woulfe. I cannot wait!

Collaboration with other organisations has been so crucial to our development in the past number of years. We have been grateful for opportunities to partner with Design Skillnet, ICAD and OFFSET, we have learned immensely from the National Library of Ireland, and we have been bolstered (far beyond financially) by support from the Heritage Council and the Creative Ireland Programme. The former has been providing the annual funding crucial to the continued delivery of our core activity, plus the under the hood work required to future proof our organisation, while the latter funded Map Irish Design, a major research and communication project which used the 100 Archive’s thousands of design projects to reveal the impact design has on life, culture and society in Ireland.

Map Irish Design was a team effort by us in the 100 Archive and a number of collaborators: Elaine McDevitt, Studio9, Keelin Coyle and James Delaney. A significant number of volunteers helped us with research and communications too. Other collaborators of note are Post and Dotplex, who continue to improve our website, the very home of the organisation.

I was invited to contribute to the 100 Archive by the steering committee a number of years ago, in particular Scott Burnett and David Wall. It was a pleasure to work with them and other steerers then and since: Shane Delahunty, Lara Hanlon, Stephen Ledwidge and Kathryn Wilson. I owe a great amount to Brian Nolan and David Smith, who have been with the 100 Archive since the very beginning, have supported me immensely throughout my time here and will continue to steer the organisation through this transition. We have three new steering committee members who I know will bring fantastic energy and insight to the organisation: Thomas Fayne, Sarah Fox and Anusia Grennell. The steering committee is now being supported by Kate Stuart, an incredibly dedicated and astute cultural professional who I have been delighted to mentor over the past few years.

Above all, the 100 Archive is centred on and supported by the design community. It was the design community who crowdfunded it into existence and powers it with continued support. Without the community we, of course, would have no design work to present and discuss, but equally important is the role the community plays when rolling up their sleeves to volunteer or by sharing their comments and feedback. I feel privileged to have worked with a sector that has always encouraged the best from me and my colleagues.

I am and will continue to be a passionate advocate for design and the impact it can and does have on Irish life, culture, business and society. More broadly, I care deeply about the value creativity brings to every citizen in Ireland. I am leaving the 100 Archive to focus on my work in The Ark Children’s Cultural Centre, where everyday I make the case that the sooner a citizen participates in art and culture and the more of our citizens (at any age) enjoy creativity, the better. So really we are all part of a much bigger collaborative effort to put culture and creativity at the centre of things in Ireland. Perhaps not a farewell after all :)

Image by Matthew Thompson

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