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Meet Designer: John Lynch

Mostly, I interview stakeholders and users of services to understand their needs, and run workshops with those users, the people who deliver the services, and their management to surface good ideas for how they can be improved. I work independently so a lot of time is also spent trying to win projects.

What is your job title?

Founder & Director at Context Studio, Dublin.

Service Designer, Technologist & Design Advocate

What is your typical "day in the life of a designer" ?

Wow. Wake up around 8. Coffee. Coffee. Then the morning is usually a mix of email, meetings over zoom (I work from home) or admin. About once every two weeks I will have a significant online workshop to run for a client, these require a day or so of preparation and a days delivery and capture.

I also have an ongoing project where I mentor Startups who might benefit from a design approach, these days are very different, with 4 x 1 hour meetings with those startups and the rest of their mentor team in Denmark. Long days.

I usually take a short lunch, and I hit a productivity slump almost every day in the after noon. Around 4pm I usually get more energy and push a bit more work through before finishing between 17:30 and 18:30 usually. Occasionally I'll need to work a late night for a client deliverable.

Design principles you live by?

1. Always do research.

2. Think on paper.

3. Part of design is the empowerment of others to design.

4. If you've done research, and your gut is telling you something, it's probably right. Test it.

What problem can't you stop thinking about?

Mobility. 99% of the worlds cities and towns are broken.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

"Don't let them make you forget how good you are."

A quote from a colleague when I worked at a large corporate tech consulting firm. It was a moment that preceded my decision to leave corporate and start my own design practice in 2018.

Design tools you can’t live without? (Physical and/or digital)

  • A3 sheets of paper, sometimes folded. For sketching and lists.

  • Sticky notes, mostly for lists on my desk.

  • MIRO, which has become invaluable for workshops and shared thinking since the pandemic.

  • Moleskine notebooks - I write stuff down in meetings, sometimes I come back to it, sometimes it's just so I look smart.

What’s in your bag?

  • Buff (snood/scarf type thing).

  • Laptop.

  • Phone.

  • Carmex.

  • Sticky notes.

  • A sharpie.

  • An old boarding pass.

  • Some receipts.

  • Earphones.

  • Nothing special really.

What is the greatest design object, service, product or graphic ever made, in your opinion?

There is no answer to this question, but I have a few objects I am a huge fan of. I think the Leatherman Wave Multitool is one of the objects that is fantastically innovative, incredibly well designed, built and probably one of the most useful things I own. I have one that is now 20 years old and it's still getting me out of a bind. In the beginning it was handy for prepping food while backpacking, or pulling stuck zippers on suitcases, then it came in handy in the workshop as a designer, and now as a homeowner, I reach for it on a weekly basis when doing DIY. Awesome product.

I also think the Brompton folding bicycle deserves a mention. In one of the 99% of all cities where mobility is broken, it is a game changer as it connects disparate modes of transport. Every home should have one.

Books you highly recommend for anyone pursuing a career in design?

Good Services by Lou Downe.

Ruined by Design by Mike Monteiro.

What and where did you study?

MA Interaction Design

Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, Denmark

BSc., Multimedia (1:1) Dublin City University, Ireland

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