TRENDER: Mark Ellingwood and His Cutting-Edge Clocks

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


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Starting his design career as the dad of a newborn: Mark Ellingwood.

Who are the Rhode Islanders leading in arts, fashion, food, and style? They're Trenders, and GoLocalProv offers glimpses of the people you most want to know on the scene. Today, designer Mark Ellingwood, a designer who has just launched a line of laser-cut clocks as part of a Kickstarter campaign

Homegrown factor: Born in Scituate, lived in West Warwick and now, Foster.

Age: 42

In an era when everyone checks the time on their cell phones, what's drawn you to creating clocks?

I want to create beautiful sculptural forms that can be useful and add value beyond just function. With a digital clock you get time in a box. My clocks offer one the option of observing both time and beauty. I have made a conscious decision to use technology where I need to and break from it where I don’t. As for cell phones, I use mine on a very limited basis and have never texted.

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Keeping up with the times: one of Ellingwood's laser-cut clocks.

Talk about the design of your collection: What's inspired it? What's new about what you're doing here?

I have always had a fascination with geometric forms, and being an Industrial Designer I am compelled to look for ways to incorporate these pure forms into functional art. I started with basic forms like the circle, square, and triangle and came up with a formula that could be applied to the entire series of clocks which consist of the desktop, wall and floor clocks. I like to use a variety of materials and construction methods to create contrast and complexity within the form to produce even greater depth. My clocks are unique in their form and execution and are designed and made by me here in Foster, Rhode Island.

Why the Kickstarter project? What drew you to Kickstarter, and what do you hope to achieve?

Since graduating RISD in 2005 I have been working full time for a display manufacturer in Providence. It has always been my goal to be fully self-employed as a product entrepreneur. I have developed a number of different products ranging from furniture, games, adaptive sports equipment and now clocks. You can imagine that working full time and raising a family takes precedence over resources such as time and money, and so taking these ideas to the next level has been very slow and tedious. This is where Kickstarter can help. Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. I am looking for funding to be able to purchase a laser which will enable me to become more independent and allow me to produce my clocks, prototypes and anything else that I think of, much more cheaply and efficiently than if I had to pay a laser company. This is a highly versatile tool that could really launch me out of the gate.

How was it attending RISD as an "adult"?

Attending RISD was the most challenging years of my life and also some of the most rewarding. I was the only student in the Industrial Design department who was married with a child and was commuting. The days were long and the nights longer and I usually got to bed sometime after 2 am every night. I am so grateful to the school, the instructors and my fellow classmates for the experiences I had during my time there. It was an honor to be in such an amazing institution surrounded by some of the most creative people in the world. I would do it again if given the opportunity.

Do you think RI is friendlier toward ventures like yours, given the presence of RISD? Or the opposite, given a potential glut of artists and designers staying close by?

My experience has always been positive when dealing with local companies and designers. I think that it is a benefit living in an area that has an exceptional appreciation for the arts and such a large network of resources. I believe the ongoing challenge for most artists including myself lies in getting the word out to the market and finding resources that support the creative process.

You live in Foster. Why? 

I was born and raised in Scituate and lived in West Warwick with my wife Susan and son Noah, while my wife and I pursued our higher educations. We could not wait to get back to the country and as soon as we both graduated we bought our house in Foster, located on a dirt road and on 7 acres of land. This is our place to relax, rejuvenate and connect with nature. My son enjoys the extra snow days we get out there too. Foster also has a large artist community.

Check out Ellingwood's Kickstarter page, here.


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