Collaboration and Design Thinking Leads to Innovation

Collaboration and Design Thinking Leads to Innovation 


Louise_Loughman_Patrick_Kavanagh_Collection_04_20Three local designers embarked on a Design Thinking journey to develop a new suite of products for the newly refurbished Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Inniskeen, Monaghan.


Monaghan Local Enterprise Office (LEO) led this exciting project to facilitate the three participating craft businesses in the Design Thinking practice to achieve fresh outcomes and designs. ‘Design thinking’ is a human-centred approach to innovation and is anchored in understanding customer's needs, prototyping, and generating creative ideas, that will transform the way you develop products, services, and processes.  Liz Christy of ‘Liz Christy Handwoven in Ireland’, Louise Loughman of ‘Hand Painted Silk Scarves by Louise Loughman Designs’ and Grace Brennan of ‘King’s Forge Glass’ joined forces with the Patrick Kavanagh Center to use Design Thinking to collaborate and create new products that will aid sustainability, for all partners.


Eilín Connolly, Acting Senior Enterprise Development Officer with Monaghan LEO said, “We strongly advocate businesses innovate and embrace collaborative opportunities to remain competitive and sustainable. So when this project arose, we were delighted to support the businesses, and facilitate group learning to unleash new products as a result of this innovation method”.


Liz_Christy_Patrick_Kavanagh_Collection_05_20‘We have tested and tasted too much’ said Kavanagh in his poem ‘Advent’ but adverse to these words, Design Thinking is all about testing as much as needed and beyond. It is a creative problem solving process that focuses on the user / customer, using five stages to rethink how you problem solve; at Stage 1 you Empathise, understanding the people affected; at Stage 2 you Define the task at hand, reframing it in a human way; at Stage 3 you Ideate, coming up with ideas; and finally, at Stage 4 you will Prototype, creating a preliminary version of your idea/product/plan/etc. and at Stage 5 you Test these ideas.


Focusing on the user plays a pivotal part in the process; Grace Brennan remarked on the tendency to create items that she likes, rather than the customer, and Louise Loughman added that ‘with the help of mentor Aoife Harrington , she encouraged us to delve more into the customers lifestyle and mind set…with a survey of relevant questions and organised a selection of people from different backgrounds, some involved in the tourist industry, for us to interview… It was good to hear why they went to certain places what they thought of the gift shop and the type of things that they bought and wanted to buy’.


‘At the beginning I felt very uncomfortable’ admitted Loughman and scepticism could creep in. Design Thinking can be an onerous process, stirring up reluctance and discomfort in the practitioner. However, the in-depth, ‘think outside the box’ approach reveals it’s merit by the final stages of the process, as is apparent in these new innovative crafts that truly capture Kavanagh’s essence through multiple mediums.


Louise_Loughman_Patrick_Kavanagh_Collection_13_20‘This pilot project is the first collaboration of its kind in the country. No one knew if it would work, it was a shot in the dark’ continues Eilín Connolly Monaghan LEO. “The three local designers are successful in their own right and the collaborative project offered them the opportunity to merge minds and mediums for the first time as a trio”. Aoife Harrington, Creative Strategist and Mentor says, “To teach, learn and use Design Thinking, is to have greater capacity and confidence to embrace innovation, understand and analyse problems, and create solutions”


To be innovative, businesses need to make changes, especially by introducing new methods and ideas. All businesses whether big or small , manufacturing, or service based, can certainly gain from the design thinking process as an innovation method.   To see the full range of bespoke ‘Patrick Kavanagh’ designs by the three businesses see or to avail of Design Thinking mentoring for your businesses email or telephone 047 71818.


About designers;

Liz Christy Handwoven in Ireland, Annyalla;

Hand Painted Silk Scarves by Louise Loughman Designs, Annyalla;

King’s Forge Glass;

Aoife Harrington;

Photography courtesy of Reportage;