When he came to City College to study Art Foundation in 2003, born and bred Brightonian Ben Parrish was already harbouring ambitions to work in Ben Parrisharchitectural/interior design, but the skills he learnt on the course helped steer him in the direction of his subsequent design career. ‘All of us completed modules in many different fields in art and design such as print making, textiles, 3D, ceramics and fine art,’ recalls Ben. ’These have all been useful skills that I took with me to University and beyond and also helped to confirm that I was on the right path. I also met some fantastically talented and creative people at the College and seeing where many of my peers have gone in life and their careers is amazing!’

After City College, and gaining his Interior Architecture BA at the University of Brighton, Ben worked briefly in residential luxury design to get a feel for that sector before a game-changing career break working as a Design Assistant for acclaimed eco designer and media personality Oliver Heath. ‘That was a really exciting time,’ says Ben. ‘I learnt so much about the effects of design on the built environment and how to put an eco ethos at the heart of design in a beautiful way.’ From there, Ben’s career took another big leap forward when his flair and talent secured him a Lead Interior/Shop Designer role in luxury fashion retail with the world-renowned UK fashion house, Paul Smith: ‘I worked on some fantastic projects internationally, spending lots of time in Japan which was a real highlight of my career. I was able to explore different cultures from many perspectives, not just as a tourist.’

Having achieved such an enviable role with considerable perks (‘Being able to stay Ben Parrish example (4)in beautiful hotels around the world was a nice touch!’, he says) it would have been understandable if Ben had become complacent, but that’s not in his nature: ‘I think its important to continually test your strengths and weaknesses with new challenges to keep the excitement of a career alive and to develop in any field. Being in an innovative environment is important to me because it keeps me constantly thinking, improving and learning. I particularly enjoy the delivery of projects and ensuring that clients get the ‘wow’ factor they expect.’

The latest addition to Ben’s CV is an exciting new role as Senior Project Manager for Ben Parrish example (3)leading visual communications agency Elemental Design (whose incredible client list includes Harrods, Maserati, Zegna, L’Oreal, Louis Vuitton and Veuve Clicquot), building on the project delivery expertise he’s gained throughout his working life. Of his latest career move, Ben says: ‘I’m looking forward to hopefully becoming a key player within the team and progressing the business and my own career within Elemental Design.’

Looking back, Ben takes pride in how he progressed from a junior position to a senior role within a short space of time and he’s relished the opportunity to interact Ben Parrish example (2)with so many different cultures in the course of his career but he still yearns to work in his home town. ‘I’m a proud Brightonian and have no desire to move away,’ he says. ‘Commuting for many years takes its toll after a while but it’s worth it to be able to spend weekends in such a fantastic city. Maybe a few years down the line, I’ll fulfil my dream of running a nice café/bistro or small hotel – all with design flair of course!’

Many of City College’s current Art Foundation students will no doubt look at Ben’s career in design and aspire to emulate it. So what’s his career advice for these budding designers? ‘Work comes from work,’ he says. ‘If you get stuck or have a block, just do something, anything! Even if you know instantly its wrong, it may spark the idea you were looking for. And never give up. It can be tough starting out in the design world and there is lots of competition so make sure you present yourself and your personality as well as your work. People invest in people as well as their ideas.’

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