An interview with product designer Ilsa Parry
I loved Philippe Starck’s “Design for Life” – it was like X-Factor for design geeks! And my favourite participant was the very lovely, the very talented and the very authentic Ilsa Parry, so I can’t tell you how excited I am to bring you this interview…
What’s the most important thing to know about you?
The most important thing to know about me is that I am proactive. If I get an idea into my head I see it through to completion, whether it’s a concept for a new product or a way to help someone with an everyday task.
Describe a really good day and a really bad day in the life of Ilsa Parry.
A really good day would include lots of friends, laughter, surprises and experimentation. I love to create, I love seeing things develop and grow and I get a great deal of personal satisfaction from making others smile. I guess in reverse, a bad day would be one that is static or slow. I hate to feel frustrated more than anything. If there is a problem that I can see an answer to but am refrained from addressing, this makes me feel a bit helpless. I hate to see others sad and jobs left untouched. I am someone who dislikes waste. I don’t like things that take people, places and situations from their optimum to a diminished form.
What inspires your ideas?
Speed, efficiency, fun, colour and variety. I get ideas at the most random times, usually when noticing situations and experiences that could be easier, more enjoyable or more exciting.
Describe the process you go though to turn your ideas into products.
When an idea pops into my head, I write it down – at this stage it usually consists of three words scrawled on whatever I have to hand. This is then sketched out into a 3D form in the studio. I often begin to make before I continue sketching. Depending on the material and process I initially consider to be suitable I will model in CAD or physically using a substitute material which has similar properties but is easily accessible. Physical modeling takes place in my workshop, CAD is generally done with a cup of tea at home on the sofa. I will then redevelop the idea through a series of alternative models, CAD and sketches until I reach a solution I am happy with, this is often influenced by confidential consultation with target user groups. A manufacturing specification is then drawn up and sent out for quotation at various quantities, prototypes are produced and presented to trade and consumers with sustainable pricing. Feedback is taken into account and redevelopments are considered before production according to market demand.
What advice would you give to an aspiring product designer?
Get live experience however possible – it is invaluable and presents you with the actual problems faced in realising a finished design for market.
Desert island design time, which three items could you not live without?
My Mini Cooper, my Netbook and my iPhone.
What are you most proud of?
Impressing Philippe Starck with my Flo Stick when competing on “Design for Life” and seeing this through to production from usability testing. It has been an enormous challenge to find the optimum solution due to all the physical factors involved with a product that functions in unison with human mechanics.
What’s next for you?
Expanding the REthinkthings product range and reaching a global market. Continuing work on client commissions including a telescopic mobile street food kiosk, an analogue hearing device and granite street furniture. I love that my work allows me to learn about new things and situations in different contexts all the time.
And, finally, what’s your favourite colour?!
It changes daily depending on what I am looking at.
Katie Treggiden writes confessions of a design geek, winner of mydeco's Best Interior Design Blog in Great Britain and has recently published Interviews, a collection of eighteen conversations with designers. You can follow her on Twitter @coadg. Read more posts by Katie Treggiden.
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