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Simon Ellison and Leveillä

Author: Emma Ng, Curatorial Intern
Following the 2013 ECC Student Craft/Design Awards ceremony I have been chatting to the three major winners about their entries. In this third and final installment I talk to second runner-up, Simon Ellison about his entry, Leveillä.
Simon Ellison, Leveillä

Simon Ellison, Leveillä

Simon’s piece, Leveillä is a handcrafted plywood table designed as a functional piece of furniture for a shop or the home, especially for the display of valuables. The table features a gently curved form atop tapered legs. A drawer (charmingly and surprisingly lined in red) also allows the owner to conceal some objects from view.

Give us a brief description of your entry.

My entry is a table based on research and exploration of the designers of the 1930s and 40s. A table that was inspired by their craftsmanship and attention to detail. A way for me to explore their method and interpret it in my own way.

What and where are you studying? How far through your studies are you?

I am currently in my third and final year at Victoria University of Wellington, studying a Bachelor of Design Innovation, majoring in Industrial Design.

Where does the table’s name, Leveillä come from and what does it mean?

Leveillä is Finnish for “show off” so aptly fits the nature of my table. Designed to display objects and artefacts with an option to store things away from the public eye. It is up to the owner to choose what he/she shows off.

Plywood is an interesting twentieth-century material that references both manufacturing and craftsmanship. Talk us through the material processes you used to craft your entry.

The main body of the table was formed in a CNC cut mould that allowed me to laminate the six sheets of “bendy ply” without having to steam bend it. The sheets were pressed together overnight with an epoxy resin between the layers to hold it in its final form.

The rest of the laminated parts were formed in a similar way, with the legs being hand turned on a wood lathe. All the fixings were added, and the glass was ordered to specific dimensions and added once the whole table was complete.

The benefits of the CNC process means that overall the table was only out by .06% at the very most. This precision allowed all the components to work together in a harmony that makes the whole design come together.

Your table has the interesting quality of being both on display and designed to display objects, helped by a careful balance of colour and form. What were some of your aesthetic references, and how did you arrive at the table’s final form?

I guess the simplicity and the thoughtfulness of the early plywood designs inspired this design the most. The colour was my way of enriching the design and adding a playful element to it. Glass was a natural choice for the top allowing the owner to curate his/her own display underneath, or to leave the table as a freestanding piece of furniture.

What was the most challenging part of designing and making your entry?

The most challenging part of the project was keeping the level of craft at its absolute best at all times. Taking the time to set up jigs so that every piece was to the best of my ability. It is easy to get caught up in the need to finish a project and have the tangible product. With this table I was set from the start that I would make sure every part of this was as considered as the next. Finishing every detail with the skill of the craftsmen that it was designed after.

What do you hope to do when you finish studying? Have you got any future projects in mind?

At this stage I am open to any opportunities that I can find. I am very interested in continuing to learn what I can from the people around me, and from the people that are leading their fields of design.

I have a passion for getting in the workshop and making things and this has followed me all my life, so for me the ultimate dream would be to have my own workshop where I could work and continue this passion.

The three winning entries are on display at The Dowse until August 30.

Simon Ellison, Leveillä

Simon Ellison, Leveillä

Simon Ellison, Leveillä

Simon Ellison, Leveillä

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