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Ilana Ben-Ari is a multiple-award winning industrial designer, TEDx speaker, and Ariane de Rothschild Fellow. She has been featured in the Guardian UK, was Independent UK’s small business person of the week and winner of C2MTL’s emerging entrepreneur award. She has been working at the intersection of design and social innovation for over 7 years at studios in Montreal, Helsinki, London and most recently Toronto, Ontario.

Ilana is most recently known for being the founder, CEO and lead designer of her first startup – Twenty One Toys. She transformed her thesis project into the company’s first product, The Empathy Toy. A 3-D abstract puzzle, the toy was originally designed with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to bridge communication gaps between visually impaired students and their sighted classmates. It is now used as a tool for empathic learning and creative education for people of varying ages and abilities. Already in hundreds of schools, homes and offices worldwide, it was featured in TIME magazine this September as “one of six new technologies shaping classrooms of the future”.

Paul was excited to sit down with Ilana and talk about her design background, her work as an entrepreneur, Twenty One Toys and hosting karaoke.

Below is a video that shows how The Empathy Toy works:

-Twenty One Toys Online-


Twitter: @21Toys.




Ilana on Twitter: @IlanaBenAri.