Design graduates turn bright idea into quirky table lamp business

David Milligan and Will Sutton have launched a range of lamps that incorporate silhouettes of faces in the base Leon Howe of The Business Factory
Leon Howe of The Business Factory

Two former Northumbria University design students are hoping to illuminate the household furniture market with range of unusual table lamps.

David Milligan from Tynemouth and Will Sutton, originally from Lincoln, are offering lamps that incorporate a silhouette of the customer’s face in the stand.

The idea stemmed from Mr Sutton’s frustration in trying to find innovative gifts for his young nephew and niece, who lend their name to the venture — Herbie & Lils.

Mr Sutton used the children’s side profiles to form the base of a prototype lamp and then approached Mr Milligan before the pair began to form the concept into a business plan.

The pair worked with the Ideas to Market team at North Tyneside Council’s Business Factory, which offers start-ups support on intellectual property, CAD and 3D prototyping, market research and new product development.

Mr Milligan said: “From meeting at university, we always had plans to develop our own business together. Herbie & Lils meets a real gap in the market for stylish and individual home accessories and draws upon our particular backgrounds and expertise in product design and marketing.

“There are a number of initiatives out there for people looking to establish their own business but after meeting Leon Howe at The Business Factory, we knew the Ideas to Market team could provide us with specialist knowledge and expertise which went way beyond the usual considerations for a start-up.

“As well as offering guidance and insight into a range of areas including the protection of our ideas through Design Registrations and Patents as well as the development of our website, they ensured that we pushed our ideas forward, considered all our options and left no stone unturned.”

The Herbie & Lils venture now offers personalised lamps as well as a range of famous figures such as the Queen, Sir Winston Churchill and Alfred Hitchcock.

The lamps are manufactured in the UK from a selection of clear and frosted acrylic base options.

Mr Sutton added: “Lighting is an incredibly important element when it comes to interior design; not only does it need to be functional but it must help create the right feel to a room.

“By creating the lamp stand from a person’s profile we have been able to turn a practical, everyday item into something unique, stylish and desirable which can transform a room and create a real talking point.”

Coun Frank Lott, North Tyneside Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for business support, said: “We are committed to helping and encouraging enterprise across the borough and recognise that each new business requires individual support which is why we offer a range of specialist advice services through The Business Factory.

“It is important that we can help start-ups to tackle difficult issues such as intellectual property, patent laws, taking products to market, lease negotiations and sales and marketing to ensure that the foundations of their business are rock solid from the outset.”

The Business Factory was established in 2010 as part of the Raising Enterprise North Tyneside Project.


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