Bior Elliott, Senior Designer at Dazed and independent art director
Considering he only graduated from the London College of Communication in 2019, Bior Elliott already has quite some CV. He subsequently studied for a Master’s in History of Design at Oxford while simultaneously working full time as creative coordinator for MCQ, part of the house of Alexander McQueen. Before that he’d worked as a designer on the late and lamented Love Magazine. And while studying, he’d worked on placement for Tinie Tempah’s fashion brand What We Wear.
In 2021, he was named as the new Senior Designer for Dazed, the independent media group, with huge influence across fashion, film, art, and culture in general. That’s where we caught up with him armed with a few questions about his life in design so far.
Where did your interest in design come from?
I guess it came from the areas of study I loved most at school, which were philosophy, art and music. These three disciplines will always be what I’m most interested in, but I was drawn to design at the end of my teenage years because I found that design was something which could allow me to express and explore these different subjects while also staying grounded in everyday life in a way which is utilitarian and democratised. I never want to be in an ivory tower of any kind. Art, philosophy and music remain huge parts of my practice, but I never feel comfortable working in a way that completely alienates the general public (which giants in these fields often do). I think the tendency to walk the line between making work which is generally accessible and work which assumes some prior knowledge comes from my second-generation immigrant upbringing: You always end up having to translate things, being misunderstood is the default.
Did you read a lot of print magazines when you were younger?
I was more obsessed with books first, but yeah, print magazines were a coveted collector’s item when I was a teen. I went to a boys school, so it was actually very uncommon for anyone around me to have or read fashion or culture magazines – I think my friends and I who were into arty shit used to buy magazines (when we could afford them) to set ourselves apart a bit. I don’t remember reading anything important in magazines as an adolescent though, we got all our culture from online blogs. Complex.com and those kinds of websites were everything back then. Everything that’s culturally foundational now I read about on Complex months or even years before all the big name (print) style bibles of the time clocked on. I have a large collection of magazines and art books now though, I love reading old ones as it’s a bit of an education in recent history.
Were you initially interested in designing for print media, or had your interests always stretched across fashion, digital and more?
I was always interested in designing for everything and anything. That was always the plan. Fashion interests me the most because it incorporates every facet of creativity (sound, concepts, materiality and imagery). Graphic design for me is the most universal for design through which to approach other mediums. Most of my idols started as graphic designers: Issey Miyake, Massimo Osti, Barbara Kruger, Massimo Vignelli, Terry Jones – all of these great names across art, fashion, publishing and industrial design started their careers making inconspicuous layouts for brochures and banal adverts and I think they all turned out better for it.
Are you still studying?
Nope. Thank god. I started off hating school but somehow stayed in education until I was halfway through my twenties…
Are there any projects you’ve worked on that stand out for you?
The music video I directed (‘Vexed into Bliss’) for Tahir, a brilliant artist and friend, means a lot to me. It was a small budget but my mates and I put a lot into it and made something that I’m proud of which incorporated set design, fashion design and some narrative.
I’m also working on the invites for the next MM6 Maison Margiela runway show in Milan. I’m incredibly excited about that because Margiela was one of my favourite fashion designers and Heikki Salonen is an incredible creative director.
Do you have any principles or rules for what constitutes good design?
It should be confident. Either confidently minimal, confidently playful or confidently obnoxious.
What would your advice be to a young designer just starting out?
The great thing about design is that where you start is not where you end up. You could be designing a logo for a local café owned by a friend of your mum this year and the next year you could be working on an international fashion magazine… So just do as much as possible at first in the short-term, but always of course think long-term.
Also find people you trust and love working with. I was growing steadily by myself but working alongside my creative partner/fellow Dazed designer Ester Mejibovski has really accelerated that growth. Good collaborators open doors for each other and create new ways of working not thought of as possible before.
Where do you look for design inspiration?
Galleries, old art catalogues, magazines, shop signs and packaging design.
Who would you most like to work with?
Frank Ocean, Arthur Jafa, Olu Odukoya or Kendrick Lamar.
What are your ambitions for the future?
To have my own studio that creates with a sense of real freedom.
In the short term: to direct the creative of a print project. Watch this space.