‘Golden’, the New Collection by Sarah Ellison
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Golden, the new collection by Sarah Ellison, evokes the effortless simplicity of 1970s Australian coastal interiors.
Handcrafted in rattan, Golden subtly weaves contemporary silhouettes with a poignant nostalgia to create pieces that are not only beautifully designed sculptural objects, but reveries on long lazy Australian summers, the tactility of natural materials and the ‘golden’ era of post-midcentury furniture design in the 1960s and 70s. With formal training in fashion design and over a decade’s experience as a professional stylist and Style Editor for Real Living Magazine, for Sarah it has been an unconventional yet inspiring journey through design to this point. Her first collection, The New Wave, launched in 2017 and marked the first step in her transition from styling to furniture design.
Sarah’s latest work is a reflection of her lifelong appreciation for ‘the cool, coastal interior style that is my vibe’, she explains. With its distinctive use of rattan and organic forms, Golden is a cohesive collection, yet one which brings together multiple threads of inspiration and personal meaning.
“Rattan is significant partly in a nostalgic sense but also because I knew I wanted to work with a natural material for this collection”, Sarah says. She was also moved to highlight the skills of the craftspeople who work with the material; each piece in the Golden collection is handcrafted and takes the team of eight over three days to create.
In harking back to the 1960s and 70s, Golden was influenced by Sarah’s appreciation for designers of the period. “I’m very inspired by designers past and present, particularly female ones”, she says. “For Golden I took inspiration from Gabriella Crespi. I love Kelly Wearstler for her fearless sense of design. India Mahdavi for her use of colour and playfulness. Faye Toogood for her effortless cool.”
This recognition of these influential female designers is felt in the collection’s rounded, feminine aesthetic. The distinctive thick column forms began with the first piece in the collection, the Halston Console, which Sarah highlights as her favourite. This silhouette is echoed again in the Paloma Coffee Table, whose proportions in particular, Sarah explains, proved the most difficult to balance. “At first, we started with more narrow columns for the legs and a longer length but it seemed too skinny. I love the powerful feminine shapes this piece ended up with. It feels powerful and elegant at the same time. This is my ode to ‘future is female’!”.
Each piece in the collection is a delicate interplay of form, function and materiality. “I like my pieces to have beauty and elegance but they are also robust and made of strong materials”, Sarah says. She links this to her experiences as mother of a young child, ensuring her designs “always have a practical element”. Working from a “constant well of ideas”, each piece starts life as a sketch focused on an element of form. The material then brings its own influences and textures to the design as well.
Sarah’s approach is perhaps most clearly seen in the Icon Chair, an elegant woven structure suspended from the floor by a simple white metal base. Sarah describes the intricate weave as “a labour of love”, one which required many attempts to find the perfect balance of strength and aesthetic refinement. “I wanted a simple sculptural form mixing strength and form together seamlessly”, she says, “to be seen as piece of sculpture even when nobody is sitting in it.” The simple, essential shapes are complemented and softened by the materiality of the rattan, which is kept in its natural ‘skin’, retaining the subtle imperfections and differences of the natural material.
Her many years’ experience as a stylist, Sarah says, impact on her design process for the collections as she is always thinking about the overall narrative. “Working for an interiors magazine, I was always telling a story in my photoshoots, thinking about the person who lived in the spaces I created and how they lived in the space. This is still translated into my work now”. In the Golden collection, this is felt in the fact that, while it includes key pieces such as the chair and coffee table, the collection makes room for the more ephemeral pieces such as the Gabriella Mirror and the Elton side table, which complete a space.
Golden brings past and present into an aesthetic dialogue, creating a collection in which contemporary simplicity finds warmth in nostalgia. From the golden era of post-midcentury design to the present day, Sarah Ellison has created a heartfelt tribute to the timeless joy of Australian coastal life.