Women in Design — Isla Osborne, Freelance Designer & Glass Artist

8 months ago by

What’s the boldest thing you’ve ever done in your professional life?
Making the decision to study glass again at the University of Westminster, London, was a huge change in direction. Since then I’ve split my time between my blowtorch and my mac; working on social good design projects alongside making jewellery. My work has been published and exhibited internationally in the UK, USA and Australia as well as throughout New Zealand and I’ve been a finalist in the Wallace Art Awards.

What were your first years in the industry like, and when did you begin to feel more confident in your work?
My first graphic design job out of University was working on subscriptions and magazine redesign for a niche B2B publisher. This was a great introduction to the industry as I was always doing something new. It was a huge step-up from there to agency life, but the confidence gained by being part of a pitch team was invaluable.

What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
At the moment I’m most proud of Wearing Glass, my studio glass venture which, after 18 months is stocked in just over 20 outlets nationally. I’ve always loved glass and now get to split my time between hanging out in the studio and working on graphic design projects. At the heart of it I’m a maker; graphics or glass it’s the sense of creation that matters.

We love the election campaign you did for Pippa Coom, how did this project come about?
I’ve worked with Pippa and the City Vision team (the Labour/Green alliance in central Auckland) over three local body elections. Together we successfully rebranded the organisation and have substantially increased progressive political representation in Auckland. It’s been a fantastic project with a life of its own and I love the buzz of an election campaign.


How do you find balance between work and life?
I have a young family who are very effective at reminding me to be present in the moment, and we have just built a beautiful little studio so I can work from home. My world is full of simple miracles; it’s a pretty good place to be.

What does success look like to you?
At the moment I’m focused on my family, and part of that is helping to build a better world. Being embedded in my community and working on local projects that make a difference feels like success to me.


The best piece of advice I’ve received is… Hold your nerve, just do the work.


Learn more about Isla and her work at isla.co.nz & wearingglass.co.nz

Is their a female in New Zealand Aotearoa Design design you admire that you would like to see profiled in this series? We would love to hear from you – email nicole@designassembly.org.nz

*(DA’s defines female as anyone who identifies herself as such).


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