Alumni Stories - Kevin Glynn

“There are limitations to everything, without constraints there would just be endless options of solutions, it’s what holds us back that lets us break free.”  

Name:                   Kevin Glynn            

Current Career:   Researcher & Interaction Designer

Last Role:             Academia – Lecturer in (HCI) Human Computer Interactions in (CSIS) Computer Science and Information Systems in University of Limerick

Graduation Year: 2014 (BDes) 2019 (MA)

Discipline:            Industrial Design (2014) and Interaction Design (2019)

Location:              Dublin

What career path did you want to follow as a child? 

I wasn’t really exposed to anything of much cultural significance as a child. My hobbies outside of doodling for hours on end didn’t exist, apart from video games. I became a bit of a ‘Nintendo kid’ and my earliest inklings of being a creative would have been the idea of designing video games. Later I swayed by the idea of architecture, I remember building structures out of turf sods in the bog.


Why did you decide to study at National College of Art & Design?

Discovering Thomas Heatherwick and realising that architecture could be done on the smaller intimate scale of objects made me consider product/industrial design. Originally, I had no knowledge of NCAD. I accidentally placed Industrial Design on the CAO above Architecture. Looking back, I think how lucky I was to have made that mistake – design really is about learning what mistakes to keep. The passion of the students on the open day is what helped me seriously consider NCAD.


How did you develop your career towards your current practice?

I just stayed interested, and hungry, and made the best of the jobs I got. I think finally taking the gamble and betting on myself to revisit design academically allowed me to compound the practical skills I developed to cement a deeper rigour of systems thinking. The masters gave me the bedrock knowledge in Human Computer Interactions, which allowed me to take a temporary post lecturing in the University of Limerick. The thick and fast ‘in field’ research has allowed me to position myself both as a Research and Interaction Designer.


What is the one experience – during your time at NCAD – that has informed you most in your work to date?

I had fantastic interactions and opportunities in NCAD, from designing for real-world clients through to forming life-long friendships. An important moment was winning a student design award with the Royal Society of Arts in the UK alongside classmate and friend James Donnellan. It was the first time I really understood that you could design in systems for softer and less tangible problems. This pursuit of tackling ‘wicked problems’ was part of the reason of doing an MA in Interaction Design.


If you were chatting with current NCAD students today, what is the one piece of advice you would offer?

I would recommend reading Victor Papanek – “There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a few.”

The classics are on the reading list for a reason. There are limitations to everything, without constraints there would just be endless options of solutions, it’s what holds us back that lets us break free. Don’t sulk about what you do not have, embrace what is possible. It is your role as a designer to face the world you are in and strive to improve it. Be positive in your time in NCAD, embrace this playground of wonderfully like-minded collaborators. Finally, for all creatives, there are many avenues to use the skills you learn in your time here, you don’t need the label of ‘designer’ or ‘artist’ to help change the world.

Given the global turmoil and change, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, what – in your opinion – are the opportunities for those in creative industries?

The ability for creatives to navigate this time, is in my opinion almost an unfair advantage, as it is a time of embracing new tools and technology to leverage collaboration and unorthodox patterns of working. As Donella Meadows says. “We are made of these times.”.


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