Gilsenan studied fine art before turning to design as a career. He started the company with Bruce Allaway in 2003, in the basement of his Stoke Newington flat, two years after the pair first met while both were working at a London design agency. Their raison d’etre since pairing up? “We think everything should be made to look beautiful, different, stylish and exciting, no matter how mundane its purpose or content,” says Gilsenan.
So far this year, the duo have produced work for Penguin Books, Mandarin Oriental Hotels, Hackney Council, Oxfam, Oliver Spencer and a web project for Somerset House in collaboration with Neville Brody’s Research Studios. In previous issues of CR we have also featured their eye-catching work for long-time client Buzzin’ Fly – the record label of Ben Watt from Everything But The Girl.
The duo have just moved to a bigger studio a few doors from their old one in order to grow and take on a new member of the iwant team. “Primarily we need a web person,” explains Gilsenan. “We get offered so much web work and we want someone to be able to concentrate solely on that area. We could have got rid of the drums, guitars and amps to make space, but when you run your own company you’ve got to have perks. Making an almighty racket is how we get ours.”
As well as making room for a new member and time, of course, for the occasional jam session, iwant recently took on its first intern, a Central St Martins student called Ksenia. “She’s just had a couple of pieces of work she produced for iwant selected for inclusion in a design journal,” says Gilsenan proudly. “This is definitely something we really want to do more of – help young designers gain experience as we know how difficult the transition from school to work can be.”
The hunt for a new member and the move to bigger premises hint at an expanding iwant. “Of course we want to keep growing and strengthening our reputation as creatives,” says Gilsenan. “We don’t particularly want to grow much more personnel-wise as we believe in a hands-on approach with clients and we enjoy the process from brief to concept through to delivery. And we enjoy working together. I suppose it depends on the people we find,” he muses. “If we can build a strong team of between four and six people with a mixture of complimentary skills then we’ll be happy. Especially if they can all play musical instruments.”