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Published: January 9, 2020 | Updated: January 9, 2020

‘We want to stay but – reluctantly – may be forced to move’ say Poole design consultancy

Aetha Design’s current studio space in a former foundry in the Old Town area of Poole.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A thriving product design consultancy in Poole says it may have to “reluctantly” relocate to Bournemouth or beyond because it cannot find suitable studio space in the town.

Aetha Design is currently operating from a converted unit in a former foundry in the Old Town area.

However, the land has been sold with plans for a development of 400 flats. As a result the consultancy needs to move out in March.

An extensive search for similar premises in the same area has, so far, drawn a blank.

Sophie Parsons, Project Account Manager, said: “Our ideal space would be located in Old Town and around 800 sq ft to 1,250 sq ft.

“It could be an old warehouse, unit, studio or workshop and split over two levels or with two rooms. We aren’t interested in new build units as they just aren’t us.

“Our current studio is in an old foundry with brick interior and spread over three rooms. The space doesn’t need to be anything posh, we can do the interior ourselves.

“We don’t even have radiators or double glazing in our current studio so we would be happy to think out of the box.

“We are very open and interested in taking on an old shop, pub or café as long as it was in Old Town or near Ashley Cross.”

Sophie and Tom Parsons of Aetha Design.

Aetha Design was founded by Sophie’s husband, Tom, in 2018.

It specialises in product design for consumer electronics, textile soft goods, homeware, lifestyle and sports products.

The business employs four full-time members of staff, including three designers, and has clients locally and nationwide including Aquapac, NLG, Treekit, Mi:MU Gloves, Senti and Framechain.

Sophie said: “We would like to stay in the area so we can cycle and run to work instead of having to get in a car and add to the traffic situation.

“We are all keen sportsmen and women so are very active day to day.

“What we can’t understand is why half of the town of Poole is left unoccupied and nothing seems to be being done to fill the buildings and shops.

“As a local business who are looking to stay local we are asking the question why are none of these units and buildings up for rent at a reasonable amount?

“We have been looking for new premises now for about two months as we have known our current location was always going to be temporary but there is literally nothing on the market locally suitable.

“Everything is either over £2,000 a month or being turned into flats.

“Old Town is a beautiful area, full of creatives including Salad, Lush Cosmetics and Shore Architects.

“With all these cool brands and businesses in the area, why wouldn’t Poole do more in terms of supporting landlords to keep offices and workshops for their intended purposes instead of developing more homes?

“Surely, to keep the high street and local bars and restaurants profitable you need people who work locally and live locally.

“Here we are, a small business looking to stay local and hire locally and we are being forced to look in Bournemouth or beyond.

“Towns like Southbourne and Boscombe seem to do more for local creatives.  The Syrup Room just moved into a store and have converted it to be their studio, Factory Studios are great for small creative independents but there is nothing like that in Poole.

“I think people often wonder why businesses move away and the answer is obvious, because there is nowhere for them to go.

“We reluctantly are looking in places like Bournemouth and Boscombe just because there is more available in our price range.”