It’s been five years since Merchants’ alumna Ilsa Parry won the BBC Design for Life T.V. show on BBC2. Aired in 2009, the programme saw 12 young product designers battle it out to win a placement with world renowned professional Philippe Starck.
Being crowned the winner meant that Ilsa spent 6 months working in the Starck agency in the heart of central Paris, launching her career at the top end of the scale working on projects for some of the world’s most revered furniture and product brands.
Since returning, Ilsa has been busy working freelance on a range of projects for private clients whilst running her design-led product realisation and retail business REthinkthings LTD. The brand has grown over the last four years to employ five staff and three interns and has assisted 60 designers to create over 100 new products for market in various sectors, through licensing and sales.
Ilsa’s vision was to set up a company that collaborated with young UK design professionals to realise creative and ambitious design-led products for the home and gift industries:
“I wanted to provide an opportunity for those design professionals finding it difficult to catch a break, as well as encouraging consumers to aspire to possess products with more meaning. I was lucky when attempting to launch my own career as I had a fantastic opportunity to learn quickly. Working with Starck provided me with the press interest to assist me with marketing my brand and my vision, both cheaply and effectively. So many new graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to launch their careers. They too strive to make a difference to peoples’ lives through design, and often already have the creativity and technical know-how but lack the commercial acumen, contacts and industrial knowledge, to see their ideas through to reality.”
Ilsa is continuing to grow her brand and is focussing much more on the future of the industry by seeking to realise CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) based downloadable products and “make-it-yourself kits”, with an increased focus on family time, product value and visual communication as an engagement tool. She hopes to eventually secure larger premises in the Liverpool area and to encompass a broader range of hireable employee skillsets for bespoke projects, to compliment the creative product range currently on offer.