Year/Course: 2010-2011, Lent 2011
Global i-Team: London

Contacts: Elizabeth Sawyer, DevelopmentMuse, Centre for Creative Collaboration
Mentor: Ben Schofield

Elizabeth Sawyer is an American fashion designer who has lived and worked in London, Florence, Madrid, New York and Buenos Aires. Currently studying at Central St Martins of the University of the Arts London, she has wide experience in luxury design, marketing, and trend forecasting.

With her global perspective and experience, Elizabeth has a unique aesthetic that is both European and American. Through her ongoing research into emerging trends in visual culture, she builds bespoke toolboxes for high-end fashion designers that concisely package the tools necessary to produce a conceptual runway collection, showing inspiration images and one-of-a-kind samples.

There are several trend forecasting companies that analyze patterns in visual culture and translate them for the fashion industry, as these trends speak to the future wants and needs of the fashion customer. Their services offer books or online resources that offer references for various design details that require further interpretion from the client. Elizabeth is using similar information to develop an entirely different product – a tangible and customised toolbox providing a designer with ready-made, yet wholly one-of-a-kind, design solutions such as physical materials, accessories, trim, and conceptual pieces. Far beyond inspiration alone, a DevelopmentMuse toolbox offers exclusive design development options.

The first focus for DevelopmentMuse will be US-based luxury fashion brands seeking to design collections with a European feel. After that the idea can readily be expanded to cover different, perhaps more specific, geographies, for example toolboxes for London-based designers reflecting a French aesthetic. It can also expand to cover different design disciplines, from product design to architecture to interior design and beyond.

DevelopmentMuse’s novel concept is being well-received in the fashion industry, and Elizabeth has already held a number of sales meetings with leading design houses. The challenge for the i-Team is to recommend how she can best move forward from these early successes. The initial concept is targeted toward high-end fashion designers based in New York with the aim of reflecting the European design sensibility with a New York edge. The i-Team will need to consider the best pathways for DevelopmentMuse’s future growth and development. Who should DevelopmentMuse collaborate with to produce its customised design toolboxes? Which other industries or other specific customers would be most receptive to the product? The i-Team will need to review the range of options for the emerging company, and recommend the best next steps for the further development and sales of the toolboxes.