Sun at Six Continues a Centuries-Old Chinese Joinery Tradition

07.10.24 | By
Sun at Six Continues a Centuries-Old Chinese Joinery Tradition

Modern before its time, the Ming Dynasty provided a period of native Chinese rule spanning roughly four centuries from 1368 to 1644 between the eras of Mongol and Manchu dominance, respectively. It exerted immense cultural influence throughout East Asia, with notable achievements in furniture design and craft, still echoed by contemporary artisans. Sun at Six – an AAPI family-owned and operated design practice out of San Jose, California – provides a direct through-line to the timeless tradition of Chinese joinery as they present the Wolo Collection in an expansion of their visual language.

A minimalist interior with three framed artworks on a light-colored wall, a wooden chair with a black cushion, and a modern wooden console table decorated with books, a speaker, and a vase.

Reka Side Chair and Wolo Media Cabinet


A minimalist room with two wooden chairs, a round black side table with a glass, a wooden sideboard with a tray of tea items, and a pendant light above.

Wolo Media Cabinet and Reka Side Chairs

Founded in 2017 by creative director Antares Yee, and supported by his sister as the Head of Operations, Capella Yee, the family-run factory and young studio continues a storied lineage of creative expression that began in China with their mother, Maria Yee, who studied classical Chinese joinery under a master craftsman restoring furniture for the Forbidden City. She pioneered eco-design with her eponymous business some 30 years ago introducing new technologies that would lay the groundwork for this generation. Contemporizing a historical aesthetic, Sun at Six now implements those same practices while incorporating block shapes, jewel-tone colors, and plush fabrics distilled through their lens.

A wooden sideboard with one open door, topped with a tray holding a brown teapot and cups. Nearby, a beige pot with green plants is placed. A silver pendant light hangs above.

Wolo Media Cabinet

A wooden chair with a black cushion is positioned beside a wooden cabinet, with three framed pictures hanging on the wall above the cabinet. A small vase with flowers sits on the cabinet.

Wolo Media Cabinet and Reka Side Chair

Wolo Coffee Table

Wolo Dining Table

A minimalist office space featuring a wooden chair with black cushioned seat, a wooden desk with a book and a lamp on it, a bookshelf to the side, and beige walls.

Reka Side Chairs

Ming-style furniture is introspective resulting from the collaboration between literati scholars and craftsmen for furnishings that reject vulgar opulence to instead embrace an elegance that is intellectually tempered. Steeped in allegory, the seemingly minimalist, slightly whimsical gestures are fabricated through maximalist engineering such that design is not divorced from function. Simple silhouettes are realized through intricate wood constructs – without nails or screws – using techniques like the finger joint, three-way miter, or wedging a mortise and tenon. Sun at Six shares the understanding that design carries signature cultural elements like harmony, balance, and modesty as they explore the role of objects in a physically emotive space, whether that be for the containment and ease or invigoration of its occupants.

A modern study area with wooden desks, brown cushioned chairs, metal desk lamps, and open books on the desks. The room has light-colored walls and a wooden floor.

Reka Side Chairs

A modern kitchen with a large wooden island countertop, two white cushioned barstools, and light wooden flooring, bathed in warm natural sunlight.

Carob Counter/Bar Stools

A marble-topped counter with wooden legs and three white mugs on a tray, next to two beige cushioned high-back wooden chairs on a polished wood floor.

Carob Counter/Bar Stools

“I distinctly remember, there was this energy post-Covid where so many people were like, ‘I am leaving this past couple years behind.’ It just felt like people wanted a new page,” Antares Yee says of the latest collection’s inception. “We feel like it’s time to switch from the mindset of soft, cozy curves. Instead, we want to go for hard edges. We’re going to go with contrast, all with 90 degrees, heaviness in some places juxtaposed with thinness in others. And so that, in some ways, is our direct response to previous times in an effort to move ourselves forward mentally.”

Two wooden counter stools with beige cushions are placed at a marble-topped kitchen counter. The kitchen features light wood cabinets and flooring.

Carob Counter/Bar Stools

A light wooden chair with a cushioned seat is placed in a sunlit room with wooden cabinetry.

Carob Counter/Bar Stool

Minimalist living room featuring a rugged wooden sculpture, a small bookshelf, modern art pieces, and a light-colored sofa on an elevated platform with pale wooden flooring.

Rise Bookstand

Currently comprising nine pieces, Wolo presents itself with an imperial posture, inimitable in construction and aesthetics. The Wolo Media Cabinet and Wolo Sideboard feature solid frame-and-panel construction that celebrates the natural contrasts and coloring of makata, with its strikingly dark heartwood, further accentuated with a luminescent sheen that shifts as it tracks daylight. The Wolo Dining Table, Wolo Coffee Table, and Wolo Round Coffee Table continue the material story while adding joint articulation to the narrative. Thick, columnar legs quickly taper appearing to attach to the tabletop underside with a thin connective tissue, which creates a sculptural effect. The deftly carved, simple geometric appendages emphasize the quality of the solid, sustainable wood oft discarded as waste.

A minimalistic wooden magazine holder with books is placed on a light-colored rug next to a wooden coffee table in a cozy living room setting.

Rise Bookstand

A modern dining area featuring a wooden table with four chairs, a countertop with a sink in the background, and a geometric pendant light overhead.

Ora Black Walnut Dining Table and Reka Side Chairs

A wooden dining table with four matching chairs is set with a decorative centerpiece and two glass candle holders in a modern kitchen with wooden cabinetry.

Ora Black Walnut Dining Table and Reka Side Chairs

What’s more, the ingenious construction recontextualizes what it means to be an object of beauty. “Part of our goal, especially with this collection too, is to be able to produce work that’s a little bit more timeless, that’s versatile enough to fit in, many, many trend cycles, and lots of different spaces based on things like color and simplicity of form while shying away from and pushing back against a trend driven culture.”

Minimalist room with wooden chairs, a table, a concrete column, and artwork on light-colored walls. A small rack holds books by a step. Warm natural light illuminates the space.

Ora Black Walnut Dining Table, Reka Side Chairs, and Rise Bookstand

A wooden chair with a black cushion seat is placed next to a matching wooden table on a hardwood floor, illuminated by warm light.

Reka Side Chair

Two individuals are seated, facing the camera. The person on the left wears a black dress with distinctively shaped shoulders, while the person on the right is dressed in dark casual attire. Neutral background.

Sun at Six

To learn more about this and other collections from the brand, visit

With professional degrees in architecture and journalism, Joseph has a desire to make living beautifully accessible. His work seeks to enrich the lives of others with visual communication and storytelling through design. Previously a regular contributor to titles under the SANDOW Design Group, including Luxe and Metropolis, Joseph now serves the Design Milk team as their Managing Editor. When not practicing, he teaches visual communication, theory, and design. The New York-based writer has also contributed to exhibitions hosted by the AIA New York’s Center for Architecture and Architectural Digest, and recently published essays and collage illustrations with Proseterity, a literary publication.