Six Dots Design’s Joseph Ellwood creates furniture to represent his generation
Wallpaper* Future Icons: Joseph Ellwood of Six Dots Design on his love of making, forms that reflect fluid identities, and his work for Rimowa
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Joseph Ellwood, founder of Six Dots Design, has always been interested in making. ‘I got my first saw when I was four, and have been making stuff in my parents’ garage ever since,’ the 24-year-old designer and artist tells Wallpaper*. ‘When I was 14, I bought a cheap welder off eBay with Christmas and birthday money. My dad panicked and bought all the safety gear to go with it.’
Ellwood’s experiments have resulted in a wide range of products, from a go-kart to a lamp, but he is most enthusiastic about furniture – a passion that he discovered while working for architect and cabinetmaker John Griffith. ‘We would show up on site, pour the concrete, make the structural panel, but also make the fine furniture inside, which I particularly fell in love with.’
The experience inspired Ellwood to produce his own furniture, which he would post on Instagram. What began as a passion project quickly became a conduit for commissions, which led him to set up Six Dots Design in 2020. ‘We believe that good design not only fulfils its explicit role, but serves as constant inspiration to those around it,’ states the studio’s motto.
‘Contemporary Vanity’ collection by Six Dots Design
Six Dots Design’s inaugural furniture collection, ‘Contemporary Vanity’, launched in London in July 2022. The five piece collection includes a trifold mirror, a chair, a hanging rail, a table, and a modesty screen. Featuring whimsical, wobbly forms and honest construction methods (screws are deliberately left visible, and some elements simply slot together), the collection ponders what it means to reflect one’s identity through surrounding objects.
‘There are a lot of midcentury, modernist and minimalist pieces right now, but does that really represent us and who we want to be as a generation?’ asks Ellwood, who proposes a more expressive aesthetic that acknowledges fluid identities.
He was inspired by Tom Dixon’s work with Hydro to create this collection in raw-finish aluminium, which can be easily reused and recycled. Each element in the collection has been laser-cut using a digital fabrication service. ‘I didn’t want my work to only be accessible to people of a certain level of wealth,’ he explains. ‘So I use a network of many different manufacturers, taking advantage of otherwise unutilised time on their machines. This allows them to give me a better price.’
‘Contemporary Vanities’ has already drawn the attention of German luggage label Rimowa, which commissioned Ellwood to create an artwork for its travelling exhibition ‘As Seen By’, curated in partnership with Paris-based art collective The Community. (Its participants have included Mario Tsai, Kwangho Lee and Objects of Common Interest) Ellwood’s contribution, ‘Contemporary Suitcase’, interpreted the Rimowa cabin case – known for its rigorous geometry – as a bent form.
‘The project was about taking existing forms and aesthetics, and twisting and distorting them into something new,’ explains Ellwood, who sculpted the case out of clay, cast it in plaster, and then recast it in fibreglass. ‘Contemporary Suitcase’ was unveiled in Berlin in mid-November, and even made an appearance in the Instagram stories of Roger Federer, who came to the exhibition opening.
Ellwood is now adding new pieces to his ‘Contemporary Vanity’ collection, as well as working on a chair for London lifestyle store Provision, and some private commercial projects (he mentions on his website that he welcomes ‘new, challenging and bizarre commissions’). He is also developing new materials and material practices that he is keen to implement in his furniture output, all while completing his MA in architecture at the Royal College of Art.
In the longer term, he hopes Six Dots Design will remain ‘a London-based small production, creating technically innovative everyday objects that are accessible to as many people as possible, and as beautiful and well-crafted as possible’.
sixdotsdesign.co.uk (opens in new tab)
A version of this story appears in January 2023 Wallpaper*, The Future Issue, available now in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today (opens in new tab)
TF has been editor of Wallpaper* since December 2020. He is responsible for our monthly print magazine, planning, commissioning, editing and writing long-lead content across all our content pillars. He also plays a leading role in multi-channel editorial franchises, such as our annual Design Awards, Guest Editor takeovers and Next Generation series. He aims to create world-class, visually-driven content while championing diversity, international representation and social impact. TF joined Wallpaper* as an intern in January 2013, and served as its commissioning editor from 2017-20, winning a 30 under 30 New Talent Award from the Professional Publishers’ Association. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he holds an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University.
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