Handmade With Love
In an age where consumers are just as likely to purchase cheap homewares as they are to invest in quality pieces, Kim Wallace has found her niche. The mother-of-three creates beautifully crafted ceramic tableware, which has captured the imaginations of home cooks and celebrity chefs alike.
Stepping in to Kim Wallace’s home studio is, in a way, otherworldly. Paint splatters mark the timber floors, plates line the bench ready for glazing and Kim’s three young children run freely, clay in hand and wanting in on the action.
Set on eight acres of untouched rainforest, you would be hard-pressed to find a more perfect location for a studio. Between the trees are glimpses of Noosa’s coastline, the turquoise water juxtaposed against the green landscape. This is home, and this is where the magic happens.
For the past 10 years Kim, 38, has been running her own ceramics business. In that time she has gone from corporate graphic designer to working mother, juggling a growing business with raising three beautiful children with her husband, Greg. In her own words it’s “insane”, but well worth the sometimes-sleepless nights.
“Working from home is the only way I was able to grow this business and have three children in the meantime,” Kim explains.
“There are always things you need to check on in the studio, and if that was away from home right now, it wouldn’t work for me.”
The creative process of making ceramics is by no means a nine to five job. At night, when the kids are tucked in bed, you’ll often find Kim in the studio, flipping pieces over to ensure an even dry.
Kim, a graphic designer originally from the Netherlands, has always been artistic. But it wasn’t until 10 years ago that she decided to focus on a creative outlet outside of her computer screen.
I was really missing that creativity, so I quit my job and decided to start my own thing,” she says.
While she tried her hand at drawing, painting and digital design, it was Kim’s ceramic tableware that really struck a chord with buyers – and what sets her work apart is its apparent simplicity.
I try to feature the clay and the glaze and not overdo any decoration, therefore making the food stand out,” Kim explains.
“It’s minimalist in the way that just the shape and the way the glaze is applied that make the piece. That’s all it needs and that’s what I like about it.
“Take the white on stone finish, the colour looks beautiful with things like figs and beetroot.”
Her dinnerware has not only captured the imagination of home cooks but some of Australia’s leading chefs, with Kim estimating she has pieces stocked in as many at 25 restaurants around the country.
Aria Restaurant, spearheaded by none other than celebrity chef Matt Moran, uses Kim’s designs, as does Ricky’s River Bar and Restaurant on Noosa River.
In an age where consumers are so often drawn to cheap, mass-produced homewares, Kim says there is still a demand for Australian-made designs.
“There are still people who prefer $3 Kmart plates, and that’s fine, to buy a whole dinner set is a bit of an investment,” she says.
“But people who buy from me share that passion for both food and ceramics, and combining the two makes sense.
“If you love cooking, plating up dinner for your family on a $3 plate might not work for you. It doesn’t work for me. If someone else has put a lot of effort into the plate, which matches the dining table beautifully, it’s really nice, it creates a full circle.”
Kim has a range of collections, her most popular being the raw and organic Ebb Tide range inspired by her family’s move to the Sunshine Coast.
In her newest collection, aptly named Endless Summer, Kim has shifted away from the neutral hues that dominated previous designs to embrace colour.
She says she draws her inspiration from everything around her, including social media.
“I look at everything; magazines, Instagram, pottery or even something unrelated, like flowers,” Kim explains.
“I look at it from a graphic design perspective, and how I can combine that with ceramics.”
While she one day hopes to have her own retail space, Kim’s self-titled website is ever growing – she estimates she sells about 50 pieces a week, with orders coming in from as far as the US and even the Middle East.
I love what I do, and if I didn’t love it I don’t think I’d be able to do it, as it takes up every spare second I have,” she says.
“It makes me very happy, and my home is the perfect setting.”