“After several trips to Japan I fell in love with the uniqueness of handmade ceramics - I have a deep respect for highly-skilled craftsmanship and seeing and touching a beautifully made ceramic object is such a joy,” says Mandy Simpson, the founder of design studio Esko. When the graphic designer was renovating her home last year she felt compelled to design her own products after not being able to find what she was looking for. The first product as part of Esko, which launched earlier this month, is designed in Sydney and made in the mountains of Ubud, Indonesia. Mandy was born in Singapore and lived in Kulala Lumpur until age seven, when her family moved to Sydney. She has studied digital media and interior design, and worked for many years as a graphic designer.

Which five words best describe you? Hmm… I’m terrible at describing myself! 

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied a Bachelor of Digital Media at COFA (UNSW) then worked as a graphic designer in various design agencies over the next 10 years working on some of Australia’s largest corporate brands. I also completed a Diploma in Interior Design while working as a graphic designer.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Always trust your intuition.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Hopefully it will be launching Esko.

What’s been your best decision? Starting a family - I have learnt so much from my four year old, and she regularly keeps me on my toes.

Who inspires you? Carlo Scarpa whose work I saw in Italy late last year - amazing. My husband whose eternal drive, passion and adventurous spirit always makes me want to do better. Other designers who make a living out of what they love doing. Mothers who manage to balance children and a rewarding career.

What are you passionate about? Travel, family, love, design in all its forms and disciplines.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’d love to meet Ilse Crawford - I have a bit of a crush on her, but I would probably be awkward and totally lost for words if I met her.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to design a small cabin in the woods on the edge of a lake.

What are you reading? I’m currently on the hunt for my next book to read… does reading A Lion in Paris to my daughter count?

images courtesy of esko; photography maree homer

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