Bryon Bay furniture and homeware brand Sarah Ellison arrives in Aotearoa

There was no other path in life for Sarah Ellison than a creative one, and it’s recently led to her eponymous brand becoming available to you
in store and online at Slow. 

Sarah, your career has evolved from fashion design to magazine styling to designing for your own furniture and accessories brand, launched in 2017. Are you achieving what you set out to? If only I’d had enough foresight to have planned it all! Really, I’ve been fortunate that one thing slowly led to another. I could never have imagined when I started in my 20s that I’d be where I am today.
[Co-founder Leigh McKeown] and I are also exceeding any expectations we had for [our brand] Sarah Ellison. We collaborate closely and have been able to create something we’re both very proud of. 

ABOVE Two of the pieces seen here are the Paloma table and Muse sofa. Sarah’s top tip for instantly adding character to a room is “to invest in one hero piece, like a sofa, an artwork or an amazing light. It’ll set the tone for the space, so it’s worth splurging on.”

Sarah Ellison’s based in Byron Bay, Australia — what defines its aesthetic? I’d describe it as warm, eclectic minimalism with a nostalgic undertone. I’m inspired by vintage design, materiality, nature and elevated everyday living. 

You translate international trends to give your designs a down-to-earth appeal —what’s your creative process? My pieces are designed to feel special and luxurious but remain comfortable. Working on interiors magazines, I was always surrounded by high-end furniture, textiles, materials and designs, but great design shouldn’t be accessible to only the very wealthy, so I try to create pieces that look and feel this way, yet fit within the context of the average design-lover’s home. Material selection plays a big part in this; using honest materials such as timber and stone keeps the designs grounded. 

ABOVE The Pierré side table. Sarah Ellison works with a number of family-owned factories in Indonesia, as well as organisations that support the regeneration of the local farmland — plus, every piece customers buy plants a tree for a farmer in the communities where they produce their collections.

Your pieces are both modern and ageless — what’s the secret to determining the difference between trends and looks that will endure? I think something that’s original and well made from a beautiful material will always have an enduring quality, whether it’s trend- driven or not. I aim for the bulk of my collection to be timeless, then inject some smaller pieces now and then that feel fun and current, to help keep things fresh.

Sarah Ellison is now available online in Aotearoa at Slow, and will be in their new Auckland store opening soon — how are you feeling about that? It’s a wonderful opportunity — we’re elated! We’ve had so much interest from New Zealand and were waiting for the right connection to make it happen, so when Slow called, we were stoked. The store is such a beautiful curation of brands that it was a no-brainer for us. 

ABOVE An Earth table and Arch chairs. When asked for her future predictions for the world of interiors, Sarah says, “Design is going to start to get very experimental, particularly in terms of materials. I think we’re all at saturation point with design on social media and a positive of this will be designers really pushing for originality.”

What’s a good way for us to edit what we bring into our homes? Don’t just buy something because it’s hot on social media — make sure you feel connected to it. It needs to feel right for the space and the people who’re using it.

When is life at home the best it can be for you? When the sun’s shining, I’ve had a long beach walk, I have good ideas, my family are happy and doing well, the house is tidy and I have clean sheets. 

ABOVE Huggy chairs by Sarah Ellison.

Is it possible to have it all? I believe it is possible, but not always at the same time; every now and then in life it can all come together, but usually only fleetingly. I think we often ask too much of lives and ourselves, when really we need to pick a few things that we’re grateful for or want to work on and be really good at those. It’s a balancing act, so we just need to do our best and remember we’re all going through it. No one sees how many times we messed something up before we finally got it right.;

Words Philippa Prentice

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