Based in Sydney, Australian designer Shelley Simpson studied music and dramatic arts before finding herself seated at the pottery wheel in her roommate’s backyard. It took her two years to muster the courage to approach the pottery shed, but when she finally did, she threw a pot on her first try. Two years later, in 1994, a shortage of sophisticated dinnerware suitable for cosmopolitan settings but simple enough for everyday use prompted Simpson to found Mud Australia. She enlisted friends in Sydney’s restaurant industry to test her pieces, ensuring that the thicknesses and curves were as pleasing to use as they were to the eye.
Rather than seek out a manufacturer, Simpson differentiated her product from already-available mass-produced ceramics by starting her own factory. Although labor intensive, she believes that her decision to handcraft each piece “accentuates the handmade nature of the items by leaving unique ‘fingerprints’ that don’t compromise the functionality but allow the user an emotional connection that machine-made ceramic can’t replicate.” Today, Simpson continues to expand her porcelain dinnerware by adding new shapes to the collection and experimenting with glazing techniques.