The opening of one of the most prestigious design events of the year takes place tonight in London: Design Museum's Designs of the Year exhibition.

Two Irish design firms are represented: the 2015 RIBA Royal Gold Medal winning O'Donnell + Tuomey with the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre at the London School of Economics and design consultancy Dolmen with Niall Austin and Motech Engineering for the Moocall calving alert sensor. We spoke to Lyndsey Bryce, senior designer, and Christopher Murphy, director of product design at Dolmen, to find out more about Moocall and how being Irish impacts them as designers.

Moocall is a revolutionary new device that saves sleepless nights for farmers by allowing their cows to send a text just before the calf is due. The device has been designed to be quick and easy to use - it attaches to the cow's tail in seconds, using a simple ratchet system. The distinctive egg-inspired design was developed following extensive testing with cows – it maximises impact protection for the internal components and is both easy to clean and highly visible in a harsh environment (…and cows love lime green!). The sensitive tail is protected using a specially developed rubber interface, which provides a secure but comfortable grip to a wide range of tail sizes while allowing moisture to pass through freely.

We’re delighted that Moocall has been nominated for ‘Design of the Year’. For us, this is recognition that good design exists everywhere and that design thinking can make a difference to people’s lives in even the most unglamourous environments.

We’re really proud to be practicing a unique brand of design in Ireland at the moment and Moocall is a great example of a distinctly Irish project that ultimately has global appeal – a trend we’re happy to say is helping to spread the influence of Irish design abroad.

The insights that led to this innovation are local and came from humble beginnings on the farmyard, but the benefits to users are universal, based on using lean design principles throughout the project to ensure that the solution can be applied anywhere. As a testament to this, we’ve just heard that in addition to winning the IDI Grand Prix and its acceptance into the Design Museum, Moocall has also been awarded a coveted Red Dot Design Award for 2015, a global seal of design excellence – proof that great things can come from simple beginnings once the process is right. 

Our mission is to make products better – whether rethinking everyday experiences, or introducing revolutionary steps forward as we did in the Moocall project, the challenge is the same for us – how can we use our creative design process to fundamentally improve the overall experience for users, while ensuring that the commercial benefits of good design stack up for our clients.

Irish design is on the crest of a wave right now, and we’re really excited to be part of it. Now that we’ve achieved texting cows, surely world peace is just around the corner?

To see more of the nominated designs take a look on the Design Museum website. The exhibition opens tomorrow and runs until August 23rd so if you're visiting London book your tickets here.



Words by Alex Calder.

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