What’s your background?
I have had two careers before venturing into the world of Design. Banking and Social Housing. I have formerly worked at Northern Rock in their Buy to Let Mortgage Department prior and during the financial crisis which was an interesting and crazy time. I made a conscious decision that I wanted to work in a role that was all about helping vulnerable people in society. I was naturally attracted to the Social Housing sector as the skills and experience of working with Mortgages were naturally transferrable. Karbon Homes (then ISOS) was a great starting point to progress my career. I’ve worked in Customer Service, Work Scheduling, Leasehold and Innovation roles at Karbon prior to taking the plunge with Invisible Creations®.
What led you to this career and working at Invisible Creations®?
My journey with Invisible Creations® started at the very beginning, in May 2018. After a successful application to the NHF Greenhouse programme I worked with the Adapting with Age team as the Product Owner. It was my responsibility to ensure we had the best possible product within the 16-week timeframe. With the help of the amazing team, we managed to capture the imagination of the sector with our dual-purpose, aesthetically pleasing grab rail concept which removed the stigma of ageing and disability. I’m still grateful for the support of Karbon Homes to allow me to develop that original concept into a business in its own right and becoming the co-founder of the start up organisation that you see today.
Tell us about your role. What does a typical day look like for you?
My role is Head of Product Design. My role is to extend and enhance the range of our current products, develop new ideas that go beyond our current offer, and collaborate with our partners to ensure we deliver great products to the market for the benefit of our customers and society. There is no typical day in design but a constant theme is fresh learning and reflection. Learning doesn’t stop in the design process and I’m constantly checking our work against what the insight tells us. Some questions I ask myself every day are, what do we want to do? what have we done? What worked? What didn’t? Are we solving the problem we set out to solve? How do we adapt? What impact are we having? This self-reflection ensures we stay on course for delivering the best idea, concept, or product.
What work-related accomplishment are you proud of?
Again not a specific event, but it was an accomplishment to visit housing associations across the UK and really see how engaged people were with our concept and ambitions. It’s been amazing to see how much support there is for Invisible Creations®.
What is the one thing in your industry that you want to fix?
I think there are multiple important issues that society has yet to fully understand and conquer. From an Invisible Creations® perspective I’d like to see mindsets outside of our organisation change around how we view older people. There is an assumption of vulnerability in old age which just simply isn’t true in the majority of cases. I think if we can fix that, it will ultimately lead to healthier lives for many people.
Why do you think inclusive design is important?
Inclusive design is incredibly important. From a purely technical point of view, the more people that can use your product, the better. If you then apply that principle to something as important and life-changing as a mobility aid, then that really is a game-changer. By removing barriers to use, we know that increased or sustained mobility has a positive impact on health, fitness, mobility, mental health and provides more years of healthy living.
Who inspires your creativity?
I’ve become incredibly fascinated recently by the Imagineers at Disney. If you have Disney+ I highly recommend watching The Imagineers Story. The people in that story were so far ahead of their time with their ideas, it took decades for technology to catch up to match their creativity.
What’s your favourite book and why?
That’s a tough one. I really enjoy investigative journalism like Louis Theroux and Jon Ronson. I like the absurdity of life and how they delve into real-life stories and put themselves in the middle of it all. There is one book that stands out for me in that genre and it’s probably by a person you’ve never heard of before, George Plimpton. George was certainly a pioneer of that investigative, “live their life” approach and he wrote a book called Open Net. Open Net tells the story of George’s foray into the world of Professional Ice Hockey with the Boston Bruins. Barely able to skate, George plays 5 minutes in an exhibition match versus the Philadelphia Flyers and immerses himself in what it takes to be a professional sportsperson.
What’s the one song guaranteed to get you on the dance floor?
This Charming Man – The Smiths
Why do you think Invisible Creations® work is important?
The current housing stock in the UK is outdated in terms of accessibility. Only a small percentage of homes are up to the accessible standards of today. We aren’t building new properties quickly enough and that means that people are at risk of becoming disabled by their own homes. Invisible Creations® work is important to really make a difference in this area. By delivering a more preventative approach, we ensure that people will live longer, healthy lives as they age. That time is priceless.