Dublin Makes Me

Bringing Baile Átha Cliath to SXSW

Ireland has it's bases covered when it comes to encouraging external investment. Agencies like the IDA and Enterprise Ireland are present at any major international conference, and relentlessly court multinationals and foreign business. That being said, none were dedicated to Dublin as a specific location, and were a little bit joyless about the whole thing—they tended to go heavy on tax benefits and government assisstance with little room for culture of the city. Niamh Bushnell had been recently appointed the Dublin Commissioner for Startups, and thought it was time for something a little bit different...

Culture comes first

When someone makes a decision about where to start a company, they’re also making a decision about where to live. Communicating the culture, attitude and character of the city is just as crucial as talking about funding, taxation or talent. Niamh had a vision for a small, scrappy series of events that gave people a real insight into Dublin's personality—we'd still have a focus on business and entreupreneurship, but wrapped in a bundle of entertainment and excitement.

Niamh had gathered a small project team of writers, architects, designers and entrepeneurs, and we kicked things off with a workshop where we outlined timings, potetial event formats, locations and speakers. Out of this workshop we also developed an underlying idea for the event—how living Dublin affected you and changed you, made you the person you were today. "Dublin Makes Me" was floated as a potential title, and I jumped at the potential of the name.

Designing the identity

The openess of Dublin Makes Me as a title inspired a bold, typographic-driven identity, supported by an illustrative, graphic visual language. Early design explorations led to gif-driven social media campaign in the run-up to South by Southwest.

Dublin Makes Me was split into three core events: How Dublin Made Me, Meet the Commish, and The Startup Wake. I designed everything from newspapers to tote bags (and made sure they got over to Austin in one piece), art directed the sets in collabortion with Catapult, and flew over to Austin to assist in running events during South by Southwest.

The Outcome

Dublin Makes Me attracted sold-out crowds, and was widely regarded as a resounding success—TheNextWeb even noted it as one of the highlights of South by Southwest. Dublin Makes Me will be popping up again in Berlin, Lisbon and San Francisco throughout the year, and the Startup Wake has spun off into a standalone event that has popped up in London, Cork and Amsterdam.