Alumni Stories - Ben Millett STAYHOLD® Products
"I didn’t know industrial design existed. When I discovered it, I realised it was an incredible combination of all the areas I was interested in. It allowed me to focus my passion for creativity, functionality and presentation."
Name: Ben Millett
Current Career: Industrial Design - Company Director at STAYHOLD® Products
Graduation Year: 2011
Discipline: Industrial Design
We caught up with Ben Millett, NCAD graduate and co-founder and director at STAYHOLD® Products (Ben co-founded STAYHOLD® Products with Alan Harrison), a successful consumer cargo management company that develops innovative products to hold items in place in car boots and other spaces.
What career path did you want to follow as a child?
I was always interested in creative fields and loved machines and building things; but I was also was very drawn to photography. I always hoped to go down the route of architect, engineer or photographer. I didn’t know industrial design existed. When I discovered it, I realised it was an incredible combination of all the areas I was interested in. It allowed me to focus my passion for creativity, functionality and presentation.
Why did you decide to study at National College of Art & Design?
When I came across NCAD, I realised it was the primary college for creative education in Ireland, with one of the best industrial design courses; so, it had to be good. Despite wanting to go to a sporting college, I wanted to immerse myself in a creative environment even more so. NCAD stood out to me as the place I wanted to go.
How did you develop your career towards your current job / practice?
I graduated in 2011 in the middle of a recession so there weren’t really any jobs in design in Ireland at that time. A lot of people were going abroad to do internships but a few of us decided to go it on our own and we set up a design studio straight out of college. We decided to treat it like an internship and if didn’t work out after a while we’d move on. We worked on several projects for ourselves and clients until eventually pivoting and starting a product start-up, www.stayhold.com. That’s where we are today.
What is the one experience – during your time at NCAD – that has informed you most in your career / work to date?
Working on a project for the Arthritis Ireland, Easy To Use design awards, which resulted in us designing The Kug and getting international media coverage. This was easily a pivotal moment in my time at NCAD and one that influenced the decision to start our own business.
If you were chatting with current NCAD students today, what is the one piece of advice you would offer?
To enjoy their time, make the most of any opportunities that are available and work hard. The creative world is a hard one to break into so find your niche and work at it.
Given the global turmoil and change, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, what – in your opinion – are the opportunities for those in creative industries?
The pandemic has brought about unprecedented focus on creative industries. With people having more time, they have been turning to creative hobbies and yearning for emotional and psychological stimulus as regular routines have been carved up. I have seen many instances of people taking up new creative arts during this time, which in hand is creating an appreciation and hopefully, new level of respect within the population for creative fields. Increased knowledge and experience at an amateur level will boost demand and understanding for the professional sector of creatives, hopefully for years to come.
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