ThinkBusiness.ie spoke with Jeff Powers, head of making digital technology at London’s renowned Heatherwick Studio, who will be giving the keynote speech at the inaugural Make:Shift Ireland.

Make:Shift Ireland is a one-day conference exploring the future of making and the nature of disruptive innovation in the craft and design industry.

What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

I’m really interested in augmented reality and virtual reality. Fi Scott from Make Works will be there and I really love her work and it’s very important. I also look forward to seeing the other Irish designers. Click here to see the full schedule.

What impact do you perceive Brexit will have in the craft and design industry?

Working internationally will be more difficult (with Brexit) and therefore it makes it harder for the collaboration to happen. I think collaboration is the key element to the design industry. We have already seen some effects to our own small suppliers. You’re seeing costs rise, working with rapid processing fabricators and currency fluctuations for raw material supplies, etc.

Aside from Brexit what do you see as the biggest issues facing businesses in craft and design?

Technology is moving so quickly. Rapid growth fabrication is something we’re using all the time. I think we can become too enamoured by them, and forget some of the traditional methods and those traditional ways of making. There’s pressure on the design education in the UK, making sure there are more young people entering the design field, more diversity.

“I think collaboration is the key element to the design industry.”

For those just starting out in the industry what is the most important thing to be aware of?

Everyone says do what you love, and that’s really important, but have a good understanding of the business model that you want to pursue, research areas of technology that could support that model and make sure it pays the bills!

Are there any designers in Ireland that have impressed you?

I have a done quite a bit of collaborating with Joseph Walsh. He’s doing fantastic stuff and a really good balance between design and a huge knowledge of wooden craftsmanship. He has quite a bit of interaction working with Japanese companies as well.

How large is the team around you in Heatherwick Studio?

We have 200 employees and about ten full-time designers, and the key to that is fostering collaboration. We still have to work at it as it’s very easy to get lost in your work. You don’t want just one type of person you want people from different types of fields, so encourage diversity.

What do you think governments throughout Europe can do to improve the entrepreneurial climate?  

Cultural exchange in my view is important, so fostering that. Make-shift Ireland and other companies need to be publicised. Increasingly reaching out to members of the public and making these companies accessible for young people. In the UK we work with the Saturday Club, an organisation that encourages art and design in young people. The other thing is to promote internationally. There’s a really nice opportunity to celebrate local and regional design, while also promoting those internationally.

The event takes place on Monday, November 6th, 2017 at The Helix, Dublin.