Next month Danny Boyle’s new movie about Steve Jobs will be hitting the cinema. He was a controversial figure, but whatever you think of the man his vision has transformed our lives. The basis of Apple’s success was rooted in a design ethos that Hartmut Esslinger dubbed “California Global” – a look inspired by Hollywood with its mix of music, sex appeal and challenging the status quo.
It got me wondering if our Holywood had inspired a design language of its own. Now before you scorn the premise stop a moment and reflect. Our local residents already have a global reputation for music (Van Morrison) and sex appeal (Jamie Dornan). Do we challenge the status quo? Well there is more innovation and design in Holywood than we sometimes acknowledge, and as this is the “Year of Ireland Design” perhaps that is something we should do more to promote.
Holywood is bookended by the Transport Museum, reflecting 200 years of ground breaking design, and by Short Brothers / Bombardier, whose C series wings are an absolute marvel of 21st century engineering, challenging the assumption that flying cannot be environmentally responsible too.
Within the town we have a number of innovative architectural practices – Des Ewing, whose international practice has just won the Houzz design award for 2015 – is perhaps the best known. According to Des "Holywood is a perfect place to live in and run as a business - when London clients come over they cannot believe the quality that is here."
And of course, like Hollywood LA we also have an amazing film industry. Yellowmoon, based on the Shore Road, undertake more TV post production than any other company in N Ireland, including Game of Thrones which has just won an astounding 12 Emmys. Another innovative Holywood company, Flickerpix, have won 40 international awards, with a series of animations like Macropolis and Five Fables that are rooted in our local culture.
I asked Joel Simon, founder and creative Director at Flickerpix, if being located in Holywood influenced what they did. “I’ve always found Holywood to be an invigorating place to work in" says Joel. "There is is a village vibe and vibrant café culture. The fact that you are surrounded by many different artists, media practitioners, and start ups makes you feel part of a creative community which attracts many like-minded people."
Ontop of that our creativity extends to food and drink (Alain Kerlo’ch of newly Michelin starred Ox lives in Holywood, while Fontana has also been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand.); culture (two music festivals, May Day and Culture Night); and new media / politics (Mick Fealty from Slugger O’Toole).
Holywood local may not quite have the same brand as Hollywood Global, but nonetheless we have some very innovative people producing some very cool products and groundbreaking designs. And that’s something that I think we can all share and be proud of.