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A Peek Inside Sarah Ellison's Design World + Her Exciting US Launch

Creative People

After dominating the Internet and the Australian design scene with her cosy Huggy couches and cult-status coffee tables, furniture designer Sarah Ellison is now set to take on the US!

The creative director and co-founder has officially launched her vintage-inspired furniture collection in North America, in partnership with retailer, Design Within Reach. The former magazine editor spends her days conjuring up the brand’s unique pieces from Byron Bay. Here, she gives us a glimpse inside her design process.

23rd February, 2022

‘My pieces are inspired by vintage design and sculptural form. My goal is to take old ideas and present them in a fresh new way,’ Sarah says. Photo – Jessie Prince.

The light and bright workspace is accompanied by moodboard and samples. Photo – Jessie Prince.

Warm earthy tones are a big part of Sarah Ellison’s signature style. Photo – Jessie Prince.

Sampling takes up a significant amount of the design process. Spot the brand’s Ebb & Flow sculpture. Photo – Jessie Prince.

An insight into the exciting beginnings of the Yoko bed! Photo – Jessie Prince.

‘I do a million sketches and variations of the same thing, so there’s usually a couple of ideas that stick,’ she says. Photo – Jessie Prince.

The Huggy chair and Paloma table. Photo – Jessie Prince.

The chic Luca console, on show Sarah’s home, was launched as part of her La Banda collection. Photo – Jessie Prince.

‘I want form to be the hero so it’s important for me to use a really neutral palette so that the shapes become the focal point in my designs,’ Sarah says. Photo – Jessie Prince.

Sarah’s own home also showcases her ’70s-inspired Muse couch in Malibu Dune Velvet, accompanied by the hand crafted Paloma table. Photo – Jessie Prince.

Inside Sarah’s home. Her Insta-famous Huggy chair features a faux shearling material, and was designed to make you feel like you’re getting a warm hug!  Photo – Jessie Prince.

Christina Karras
Wednesday 23rd February 2022

For stylist turned designer Sarah Ellison, the creative process often starts with finding just the right material or design detail.

Since jumping into the world of product design in 2017, her name has become synonymous with muted, on-trend colour palettes and sculptural furniture aptly described as ‘great design without the ego’ on her website. But it’s her focus on refining a distinct design aesthetic that’s helped cement her success.

‘I want form to be the hero so it’s important for me to use a really neutral palette, so that the shapes become the focal point in my designs. When you want to focus on shape you use less colour. I like things to feel warm and inviting,’ Sarah says.

‘[In the beginning of the design process,] I’m not thinking about functionality, it’s more about an idea, the mood, the message. I do a million sketches and variations of the same thing, there’s usually a couple of ideas that stick,’ Sarah says.

From here, Sarah works alongside her team to create a 3D model of the piece to explore scale, ergonomics, and how a human body would interact with the pieces. They only move on to prototypes and sampling after feedback and lots of discussions sometimes it can take up to six iterations to perfect a product! 

‘The idea for a design is only a small part of a much larger process… Making that idea into a viable commercial product is the bigger challenge,’ Sarah adds.

The team’s latest challenge has been an exciting one – expanding the business to the US market! ‘Our first conversation with [Design Within Reach] was in 2020, so it’s been around 18 months of work to get to a point where we can announce that Sarah Ellison is officially available online, as well as inside 25 of their retail studios across the US,’ the brand co-founder says.

Sarah says it’s beyond her ‘wildest dreams’ that she’s been able to get to this place in such a relatively short space of time… but we have a feeling this is just the beginning!

Shop Sarah Ellison’s wonderful pieces online here.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net