With all the attention paid to crystal encrusted statement necklaces and sparkly earrings in the last few years, it’s refreshing to see jewelry with a minimalist aesthetic make an appearance. Triangles in particular have been popular.
In early November I put together “All the Angles,” a roundup of geometric jewelry for the Boston Globe. Here’s a followup on that, with many more modern geometric jewelry picks, from triangle necklaces in marble or copper to rose gold pyramid studs to diamond encrusted geometric rings.
Earlier this summer, Shelley Simpson, designer and founder of tabletop line Mud Australia, visited Boston for the first time. Natalie van Dijk Carpenter, owner of South End boutique Lekker Home, hosted her for an evening. I was out of town, but was able to catch up with her a few days later by phone.
Shelley Simpson and Natalie van Dijk Carpenter at Lekker Home in Boston.
Mud Australia porcelain is handmade in the company’s Sydney factory by in-house ceramicists, from Limoges porcelain, sourced directly from France. Unlike much tableware, to which the color is applied after the fact, Mud Australia tints the porcelain beforehand, which provides a distinctive depth of color. (It also means if a piece chips, the exposed portion isn’t white.) The interior of each piece has a vitrified stone-like surface that becomes smooth with handling, but the interior is hand-brushed with a clear glaze. The look and feel is organic and the colors neutral, punctuated with a few brights.
When did you first start making pottery?
When I was 28, I moved from Melbourne to Sydney, where I rented a house with a woman named Joy, who had a kick wheel in her back shed. She was always harassing me to have a go with it. One weekend when she was away, I got some clay and played around. She was very cross with me because she said my things were prettier than hers!
So you didn’t start out as a ceramicist?
I’m creative, but I’m not trained in art. I draw now, but nothing like my 13-year-old son, who has a natural gift for it. But I have an eye for color and form. My schooling has been throwing things away.
How did you decide to pursue it as a business?
I had applied to manage a theater, but they looked me over, in part because I was a woman. Joy and I started Mud Australia together in 1994, though she left the business after a few years and I’ve continued on.
Mud Australia has 70 shapes and 18 colors. We’ve been focusing on new shapes lately more than colors. The latest is a series of mixing bowls and baking pans. We’re doing pendant lights in three sizes, and have a mortar & pestle in production. That really shows the durability of porcelain, so you can feel confident you’re not buying something fragile.
Are there pieces that are distinctive to certain regions?
The shapes work for anything. You can eat Yorkshire pudding, sushi or Middle Eastern food from the same bowl comfortably. That said, we have a distributor in Korea with three shapes specific to their market, including a kimchi pickle dish. We also make exclusive pieces, like vases, for restaurants.
Gwen Hanson Pygget, an Australian potter who created art pieces rather than functional ones. They’re absolutely beautiful. We’re in New York City now, and just went to the Judd; his color is exquisite.
What influences you when it comes to creating pieces for Mud Australia?
I love to bake, which is how we came to add the new baking pieces. I make Pavlovas and exotic birthday cakes for my kids and other family members. I once made a snake covered in marshmallows. Almost sculptural stuff. I go all out when it comes to baking a cake. For my daughter’s 16th, I made a cake with eight layers in rainbow colors, covered with white icing. The restaurant we brought it to was very impressed. My husband makes the dinners at home. Food is very important to our family.
What’s your home like?
We live in a top-floor apartment in a four-story building in Sydney that’s an Arts & Crafts style, with an old French lift. There’s loads of trees with a vista to the harbor and a large deck; we do lots of eating al fresco. We’ve never lived in a house or on the ground. We want a garden. We are going to put the house on the market soon and find something new.
And of course you have plenty of Mud Australia dishes?
Yes, everything. And pieces that didn’t work out too.
What do you like most about your line?
Everybody’s Mud Australia dinner set is unique to them, which I think sets us apart from other companies that present full collections. When you go to the store, you can get creative, which is fun. You can buy one piece at a time. Your collection can be a complete rainbow, or blackm white, and gray, or all pastels. Recently, one guy did slate and pink, which I wouldn’t have thought of, but when I was packing it up I thought, “This is amazing.”
After putting together Friday’s post on the revival of Birkenstocks, and having a late birthday lunch with friends (thanks Marcie & Deb!), I headed to The Tannery to try on Birkenstocks. As they’re hardly sexy, I felt like I was trying on shoes that an college roommate left by the door. But, once I channeled the women in the street style photos, I was on board. So I turned my attention to how Birkenstocks actually felt on my feet.
The leather of the Arizona sandals were a little stiff for me, (though likely fine for most anybody else), and I didn’t even bother trying on the Gizeh thongs (I can only wear flip flops with ribbons, not leather, between my toes). It’s too bad, because I really like the white Arizonas. They remind me of my white rubber platforms slides by Patrick Cox from the mid-90s (which I actually still have and should perhaps resurrect).
The white Birkenstocks are so obviously a cute style statement and would not be mistaken for the schleppy misguidedness. Look, if you’re going to wear Birkenstocks because they’re back (and by back I mean, by those who matter, i.e., Phoebe Philo, Marc Jacobs, Jenna Lyons), then you’re going to have to cultivate the total look. (I can do a post with specific clothing picks too if anyone’s interested.)
Back to the try-ons. I also slipped on a slouchy pair of mocha suede Arizona sandals with rose gold buckles (nice styling touch), which also happened to be labeled “soft footbed.” Bingo. Pure comfort. (For sizing, go down one.) I could definitely get on board wearing these. Thing is, I haven’t been into earth tones the past ten years.
After a morning (ok, and an afternoon) cavorting along Newbury Street and enjoying a lovely lunch al fresco, I’ve gathered ten more pretty items perfect for Mother’s Day. Here’s the StyleCarrot Mother’s Day Gift Guide, Part Deux.
Last week, I put together a gift guide of heart-shaped goodies that you’d actually want (unlike, say, a pink heart-shaped diamond engagement ring) for KEEP (it’s like Pinterest but all shop-able; definitely check out my KEEP collections). I’m porting it over here today for you, since we’re getting pretty close to the big day. Flowers die, sparkly jewelry, cashmere sweaters, edgy tableware, mid-century modern chairs, and vintage Chanel are much more appreciated. Here are 10 heart-shaped Valentine’s Day gifts that even would-be heart haters wouldn’t be able to resist.