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Designer Spotlight: Shelley Simpson of Mud Australia

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.

Mud Australia Founder Shelley Simpson At Lekker Home

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.

And now? 

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.

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Mud vignette

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 Photos by Ant Geernaert

What designers do you admire? 

 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.”

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Get the Look: Every Type of Birkenstock Sandal

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.

Back home, my search for size 36 black suede Arizonas turned up “out of stock” messages. Not willing to languish on a wait list, I ordered the Arizona Soft Footbed Suede Sandal in Velvet Gray from Nordstrom’s. (By the way, the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale is in progress.) Admittedly, it is going to be harder to pull off elegance in gray suede than crisp black, but so be it. Besides, I’ve been totally into my gray Madewell jeans, so this could all be good.

And, fact is, I’m headed to the Outer Cape for most of the summer, where looking just so is just not.

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S H O P P I N G

1. Birkenstock Gizeh Thong in Black Patent

2. Birkenstock Arizona in White with White Sole 

3. Birkenstock  Gizeh Thong in Metallic Blue

4. Birkenstock Cairo Woven Leather  

5. Birkenstock Granada Soft Footbed in Oiled Leather

6. Birkenstock Arizona in Caribou

7. Ar By Tatami Birkenstock Dakar in Red w/Leopard Fur Sole

8. Birkenstock Catania by Papillio in Metallic Turquoise Leather

9. Birkenstock Granada in Metallic Silver

10. Birkenstock  Gizeh Thong in Mint Linen with Cream Sole

11. Birkenstock Arizona in Violet Nubuck

12. Papillion by Birkenstock Madrid in Leopard Classic 

13. Birkenstock Striped  

14. Tatami  by Birkenstock Adria Flecht 

15. Birkenstock Arizona in Hippie Flowers 

16. Birkenstock Madrid in Gold Metallic 

17. Birkenstock  Yara in Oiled Leather

18. Birkenstock Chania Gladiator

19. Birkenstock Florida in True Leopard

20. Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed in Green Suede

21. Birkenstock Milano in Black Patent Leather 

22. Birkenstock Mayari 

23. Birkenstock Curacao by Birki Stretch Sandal

24. Birkenstock Arizona in Floral  

25. Birkenstock Gizeh Thong in Tango Red

•           •           •

Go shoe shopping at Sole Struck >

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide, Part II

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.

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S H O P P I N G

1. Stella & Dot x May Designs Patterned Notebbooks

2. Mar Y Sol Crocheted Clutch

3. Lucite Tape Dispenser

4. Woven Striped Rope Bracelet

5. Half-Dipped Mugs

6. Pomegranate Bud Vase

7. Stephanie Sherman Grand Waves Photo Print

8. Hand Carved African Bowl

9. Jennifer Meyer Diamond & Gold Circle Ring

10. Baggu Boat Tote

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Shop Mother’s Day gifts at Biscuit Home >

Orange And Yellow Throw Pillows

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Gift Guide: Valentine’s Day Hearts You’d Actually Want

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.

Heart Shaped Gifts For Valentine's Day
S H O P P I N

1. Cashmere Sweater With Cross Heart Face

2. Brown Diamond Heart Drop Earrings

3. Neon Heart Art Print

4. Black & White Graphic Heart Scarf

5. Fragile Hearts Splatter Bowl

6. Alex Woo Heart Pendant on a Ball Chain

7. Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Heart Pop

8. Vintage Chanel Heart-Shaped Minaudière

9. Hot Pink Diary With Heart Lock

10. Verner Panton Heart Cone Chair

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Shop Valentine’s Day confections at Dean & Deluca >

Edible Valentine's Day Gifts Dean & Deluca

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Covet: Gray Diamond Teardrop Earrings

Gold and DIamond Teardrop Earrings

 

Fabrizio Riva Earrings

Natural 18k white gold teardrop earrings
set with .56ct cool grey crown cut diamonds.

$1,595 at Barneys New York

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Get the Look: Party Dresses From All the Best Designers

Selecting the holiday party dresses here was more fun than going shopping for the real thing. The list of designers reads like a Vogue editor’s Fashion Week to-do list. There are 42 different designers represented here, each dress more fun than the next. Probably you won’t be able to actually buy many of these, thanks to the sky high prices, but still, they are divine.

If I were going to a holiday party, and I could wear any of them (and this is in dreamland, where I have the perfect body to match my bottomless wallet), I think I’d opt for the Rachel Roy or Marc Jacobs, though I do also love the drape-y metallic Vivienne Westwood and the darling Nina Ricci. I also love the idea of the Isabel Marant with black booties, topped with a leather moto jacket. I suppose it depends on the occasion. They’re all pretty fabulous. Which holiday party dress would you wear to a fancy fete?

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S H O P P I N G

1 Vivienne Westwood Anglomania Crinkled Taffeta Dress

2 Rag & Bone Corina Fringe Dress

3 Thakoon Dandelion Print Wool Blend Satin Dress

4 Mary Katrantzou Elay Printed Jersey Dress

5 Lanvin Ruffled Satin Twill Dress

6 Dolce & Gabbana Floral Print Crepe Dress

7 Monique Lhuillier Tulle Embroidered Dress

8 Donna Karan Sequined Stretch Jersey Dress

9 Emilio Pucci Fitted Lace Dress

10 Erdem Silk Blend Jacquard Dress

11 Hervé Leger Bandage Dress

12 Lela Rose Jagged Paint Splatter Dress

13 Alexander McQueen Floral Print S-Bend Dress

14 Isabel Marant Strapless Sweetheart Dress

16 Diane von Furstenberg Long Sleeve Lace Dress

17 Carven Contrast Back Lace Dress

18 Alexis Madame Strapless High-Lo Dress

19 J. Mendel Pleated Dress

20 Alexander Wang Leather Bib Dress

21 Zero + Maria Cornejo Little O Dress

22 L’Wren Scott Pebbled Jacquard Dress

23 Tracy Reese Flared Frock

24 Tory Burch Kirby Dress

25 Narciso Rodriguez Point Hem Silk Dress

26 Marc Jacobs Sequined Dress

27 Anthony Vaccarello Black Dress

28 Alice & Olivia Aubree Embellished Lace Dress

29 Nina Ricci Tulle & Silk Knotted Dress

30 Milly Bustier Feather Dress

31 Zuhair Murad Floral Sequin Dress

32 Stella McCartney Silk Faille Dress

33 Jenni Kayne Lace Seam Dress

34 Rochas Two-Tone V-Back Dress

35 Naem Khan Beaded Fringe Dress

36 Marc Jacobs Velveteen & Silk Crossback Dress

37 Armani Collezioni Floral Silk Drape Dress

38 Jason Wu Duchesse Satin A-Line Dress

39 Proenza Schouler Pleated Dress in Geometric Cave

40 Christopher Kane Mesh Shawl Top Silk Dress

41 Roksanda Ilincic Patchwork Dupioni Kilton Dress

42 Matthew Williamson Winter Garden Organza Layered Dress

43 Joseph Agnes Lace Dress

*            *            *

SHOP Saks Fifth Avenue for holiday gifts with free shipping >

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Gift Guide: 15 Gifts For Guys Under $100

I started out thinking it would be hard to pull together a great gift guide for guys, but it turns out there is quite a bit of choice if you spend some time looking. Lucky for you, I did the work for you. These presents men are all under $100, and run the gamut from rugged accessories to useful gadgets. I hope something here appeals to you so you can check your boyfriend, husband, brother, or gay best friend off your list. And being Black Friday, there’s a ton of stuff on sale out there.

gift-guide-for-him-under-$100Great Gifts For Guys Under $100

S H O P P I N G

1 Nixon The Time Teller

2 Aruliden Underwater Landscape Bowl

3 Black Chambray Utility Shirt

4 Bern Brentwood Winter Helmet

5 Jonas Damon Beech Wood Tool Set

6 Kakkoii WOW Speaker

7 Silicone Bluetooth Keyboard

8 Dunes Throw

9 Freud French Press

10 Kiehl’s Skin Essentials Kit

11 Barbour Tartan Scarf

12 Plaid Silk Bow Tie

13 Normann Copenhagen Whiskey Glasses

14 Abingdon Messenger Bag

15 Wool Seafarer Hat

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Gift Guide: 10 Gifts For Her Under $25

Here’s a compilation of  lovely presents for a friend or sister, all under $25. A few are from online boutiques you may not have heard of, , sites that are worth exploring whether you’re buying for yourself or choosing holiday gifts.

ModCloth has really cute clothing at great prices (I just bought this adorable camera tee). Furbish Studio, a boutique in Raleigh owned by designer Jamie Meares, has fun home furnishings, as well as gifty gems. And, I just discovered including Waiting on Martha, an e-boutique and  blog by Mandy Kellogg Rye, who plans to open a brick and mortar outpost in Atlanta next year.

 

Gift Guide Affordable Presents For Her

S H O P P I N G

1 Chevron Cocktail Napkin Set

2 Tapas Tools

3 Ceramic Jewelry Tray

Across the Universe Nail Polish

5 Matte Mint Bud Vase

6 Hunter Gems

7 Turkish Hand Towel

Chanel Noir Perfume Print

9 Fawn Cosmetics Case

10 Colorblock Key Fob

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Get the Look: 25 Graphic Intarsia Knit Sweaters

A little Sunday shopping for graphic sweaters, on the heels of today’s Boston Globe’sCreatures, Features” roundup in “The Enthusiast” spread. There are so many of these graphic intarsia sweaters, and they’re really, really cute. Well, maybe the brain intarsia sweater isn’t exactly adorable, but it’s kinda cool.

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S H O P P I N G 

1 Safety Pin Sweater

2 Boston Terrier Sweater

3 Cool Sweater

4 Winking Fox Sweater

5 Angry Eagle Sweater

6 Butterfly Sweater

7 Lady Liberty Sweater

8 Crowned Bulldog Sweater

9 Flying Bird Sweater

10 Poodle Sweater

11 Penguin Sweater

12 Fox Sweater

13 Dachsund Sweater

14 Kissing Fox Sweater 

15 Scottie Sweater

16 British Flag Love Sweater

17 Wild Horse Sweater

18 Owl Sweater

19 Thundercloud Sweater

20 Brain Sweater

21 Gryphon Sweater

22 This Is Not A Love Song Sweater

23 Queen’s Guard Sweater

24 Cartoon Kitty Sweater

25 Blue Dot Sweater


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Get the Look: Camo Print Clothing & Accessories

Did yesterday’s 22 Camo Street Style Looks make a good case for camo? Convinced? 30 cute camo looks you can totally wear.

 

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S H O P P I N G

1. Sam Camo Print Puffer Coat

2. Organic by John Patrick Pleated Camo Print Skirt

3. That’s It Camo Moto Jacket

4. Edith A. Miller Camo-Sleeve Tee

5. 291 Camo Casmere Pullover

6. Alexander Wang Foiled Tee

7. Laveer Revelry Camo Blazer

8. 3.1 Phillip Lim Fur Patchwork Camouflage Sweatshirt

9.  Autumn Cashmere Camo V-Neck Sweater

10. Textile Elizabeth nd James Warrior Bowery Tee

11. Equipment Underground Camo Printed Brett Blouse

12. Free People Camo Thermal

13. On The Hunt Camo Jacket

14. Excursion Camo Quilted Vest

15. Swildens Jo Camo Pullover

16. Zoe Karssen Camo Low Waist Sweatpants

17. Christopher Kane Camo Print Dress

18. Rag & Bone/Jean Dash Slouchy Camo Jeans

19. Baldwin Denim Ten Skinny in Camo

20. CB Made in Italy Exclusive Blue Camouflage Slippers

21. Neon Camo Scarf

22. V73 ‘Mimetic’ Shopper

23. Camo & Stripe Wool Scarf

24. Vans Authentic Camo Women’s Sneaker

25. New Balance Camo Running Sneaker

26. Loeffler Randall Lock Clutch in Jade Printed Watersnake

27. KOMONO Woodland Camo Watch

28. Pink Camo Printed Canvas Bucket Tote

29. Herschel Supply Co. Walton Bag

30. Camo Ankle Strap Flat

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