Furniture and Product Design BA graduate Ella Merriman is a designer who's scooped the Young Innovators Award for 2021/22 (from Innovate UK, The Prince's Trust and KTN) following on from her success as grand champion in London Met’s Big Idea Challenge in 2020 for her new business MERRI Intimates – an underwear brand offering cool, comfortable organic cotton underwear for women who suffer from UTIs and thrush. She was also shortlisted for a Young Furniture Makers Design award in 2018 for her dog-eared shelf, has taken part in Venice Biennale as a fellow and has also worked as an artist in residence in Sweden. She reflects on her time at London Met.
What made the course a valuable degree for you?
The freedom that my course gave me to explore and establish my design process whilst being focused on making techniques made the skills I learnt at the School of Art, Architecture and Design invaluable. We were given such a wide range of live briefs that I was able to explore many areas of design and push myself to think outside of my comfort zone.
What were your lecturers like?
My lecturers were extremely supportive and knowledgeable and helped me gain confidence in my making abilities. They also guided the development of my design style and process whilst giving me space to make mistakes and develop my own.
What were the facilities like at London Met?
The facilities were great and I loved the fact that you could visit workshops dedicated to other courses and still be welcomed and taught new skills.
Did you have a favourite piece of equipment while on the course?
In my final year I spent the majority of my time in the metal workshop and I loved experimenting with the machinery there. I like the way that metal, as opposed to wood, cannot dictate the way in which you use it and I find it a liberating material to experiment with.
Favourite spots in London?
I have lived in London all of my life and so I know it very well. I love all the galleries and have always spent many hours sitting in them, sketching and contemplating new ideas. My favourites are the Sir John Soane's Museum, The Courtauld Gallery and the Tate Britain.
Can you tell us what you've been doing after graduation?
After I graduated I was granted a Fellowship to work with the British Council at the Venice Architecture Biennale and so spent a part of my summer there working at The British Pavilion as well as carrying out my own research into urban seating. Following this I travelled to Seville where I worked with a ceramic jeweller on a three-month placement.
My latest designs include vegan bags with LPOL, metal shelving on Kickstarter, jewellery from Ceraselle offcuts and pasta for Carluccios.
How will winning the Young Innovators Award help your business?
This award is going to help us take MERRI Intimates to the next level and support us in developing our products, growing our audience and continuing to make sexy, organic cotton underwear that supports our bodies!