Our Stories

Meet the Maker: Mennt Ceramics Founder Laura

It’s a balmy morning in Marrickville, a neighbourhood in Sydney [Australia's] Inner West with streets lined with specialty coffee shops, warehouse conversions and red brick workshops. I stand - the sun on my back waiting expectantly to meet Laura. 
What has always struck me about Laura is her immediate warmth, from behind her workbench she emanates nothing but pride - when I first spotted her at the Carriageworks Sydney Design Market I remember the way her face lit up when I introduced myself. I gushed almost immediately, the same way I had when she opened the door to her private studio to show me around. 
The shelves tower above me and I tilt my head to take it all in, slip casts lined the far wall behind where Laura stood at her workbench, the kiln to her left nestled into a corner. Laura pulled up a chair and propped it against the open studio door opposite me, a breeze fills the studio with a fresh gust of warm air, “I try to get in as early as I can on days like today” she explains as we settle in, it was edging on 35 degrees and it was only 10am. 
As the sun pours in Laura explains where it all began, “I always really enjoyed making things, but I originally studied primary education and worked in that field for a few years,” she tells me while I nod thinking to myself that I would have loved a teacher like Laura when I was growing up. 
When I asked her about her transition from teaching to ceramics Laura tells me she studied Industrial Design at Enmore Design Centre and then followed on to Ceramics at TAFE which she described as more focused on the mould making process, “I found out pretty quickly that I liked the repetitive slip casting process.” she mused gesturing to the moulds neatly lined up behind her. 
Raising her gaze toward the rows of cup sets waiting to dry, Laura tells me about some of her earliest memories of discovering clay, “I spent all my spare time working with it… in the backyard of my rental!” We laugh together, I wonder if she ever realised that her backyard passion for crafting timeless objects would lead her to where she is today.
From these early days a lot has changed, Mennt's signature forms began from a simple yet profound observation: the need for a flat plate, devoid of any footed base, led to the creation of the 245 plate. What followed was an organic evolution of simplicity and intuition guiding each considered creation toward new forms, championing Dieter Rams approach of ‘Good design is as little design as possible.’
Above: A snapshot from Laura's first few months in her Marrickville Studio
My eyes wander to a shelf on my right, three stacks of delicate bowls nestle on top of each other, Laura watches my gaze drift to the shelf and she nods anticipating the question I am about to ask, “A local cafe wanted these made to for serving jam and butter” she shows me lifting one off the shelf, we agree that the mini 095 cups are perfect. 
When I ask her about other shapes she has experimented with and if Mennt will expand into new forms Laura explains that some things she make don’t feel quite right, “it’s interesting in the Kiln because porcelain is a highfire clay, so it will slump slightly more compared to when you first place them in the kiln… it loses some of its curvature and melts and any angles come out a bit too designed.” 
Taking one of her moulds off the shelf behind her she continues, “The mould making process can be rigid… it has limitations that I enjoy, the more limitations the better the design.”
With brass-casting on her list of to-do’s Laura remains steadfast, “I’m mindful that if I’m bringing something in it needs to be versatile and I’m reluctant to just push out more and more…People are always asking me for ramen bowls or mugs” she continues, “I’m not a huge ramen eater but my focus is really on making shapes that aren’t just for one particular dish.” 
Above: Laura's homemade pasta in Mennt Bowl Set 200
I watch as Laura lifts a single cup from her drying tray beside her, swirling its rim against the dampened surface of the smooth workbench, as she shows me how she smooths each cup. I ask her about when it started to feel real, what her ‘this is it’ moment was. Thinking for a moment she paused, reminiscing, “Ceramics is such a slow process you don’t get that full design evolution with other people when you’re making on your own.” 
Laura and I had met for the first time at a market in October last year, a place where weekly growers markets bustle loudly on a Saturday morning and on this particular rainy Spring day, the Sydney Ceramics Market was showcasing inside the towering beamed ceilings of what once was the Eveleigh Railway Workshops. 
Laura tells me about her first ceramics market and how that immediate feedback of watching people resonate with her work changed everything, so when the lockdown began in 2020, going full-time in the studio felt like the push she’d been waiting for, “There’s something that happens energetically when your focus is solely your business, it can be really stressful … but you’re forced to say yes to things that you may not have in the past.” 
Working her weeks around the Kiln, when ‘pouring day’ comes around Laura knows it’ll be a full day, “It is really fun when you have a full day of pouring - pouring all of my moulds, is a huge day about 11 hours twice a week… so exhausting but super exhilarating!” 
Above: Image captured by Laura, Kiln stacked ready for firing in the Mennt Studio
Forging connections over a shared appreciation for creating is something Laura has found since moving to Sydney from Perth, “working with other creatives has given me the licence to seek out designers and photographers, it's been incredible!” She says, “Since being in the studio I’ve started to host one to two workshops a month, it’s mostly the cup painting workshop where you receive a cup to decorate, keep and use.” 
Lifting a tray of cups out from under her work bench, we marvel at the colourful paint strokes on the cups, each different to the other, “I originally did this for a fete” Laura continues, “I got to watch kids paint splodges and trees onto my cups and they are still the best ones i’ve ever seen!”
This is when I spot the curved edges of a terracotta planter, sitting delicately on a shelf basqued in sun across the room and ask Laura eagerly about it, “With Tend I felt like I could experiment with form more freely than I would when creating with my porcelain pieces,.” She elaborates, “We originally always started with an ‘outdoor’ range with the terracotta, It utilises all of my waste porcelain so it is a blend of that and terracotta slip, I can add it to the terracotta and it makes it stronger.” 
Laura, shares that being originally from Perth, being drawn to creating with terracotta isn't surprising, “it's more earthy and is similar to the colour of the dirt on my family farm in WA” she follows, “It’s all single piece moulds so I have to keep them separate… I end up working on the terracotta outside.”
Outside of the studio - when she’s not casting terracotta Laura's daily rituals, from morning coffee to walks with her dog, serve as grounding practices that fuel her creativity and remind her of the importance of simplicity, drawing parallels between her love for clay and for the outdoors, “Being in nature…working with clay is similar to gardening for me, it gives me that connection to the earth.” 
When I ask how she still maintains her drive and passion she reassures me, “It’s bigger than just the object…I hope that people that purchase from me know how much work has gone into the object for them to take that little bit more time.” she follows immediately with a reassuring smile, “I like the idea of embodied value… I think there needs to be more of a value placed on objects.” I agree. 
As we talk, I feel less and less like I am interviewing an artisan maker and more like I did the day I first met Laura at the Sydney Ceramics Market, excitedly sharing ideas and just chatting. We make our way out of her studio into the baking summer sun, and I am reminded of that same warmth she has when so candidly sharing her work. 
Rounding the corner from her workshop, Laura asks what I’m up to for the rest of the day, I tell her I’m going back to the shop to get a start on unpacking our latest Mennt restock, she laughs warmly, “That’s what I love about your shop! It’s well thought out about the objects going in, I’d like to think that if people transferred that same mindset into their homes we’d have a better world.” 
I agree, telling her how grateful we are to have her pieces in our-store before we part ways with our matching cups of iced coffee. 
Experience Mennt Ceramics in-store from Wednesday through Saturday or explore anytime online via our website. If you want even more inspiring content, join our mailing list where we continue to craft meaningful connections through spotlighting thoughtful design and quality craftsmanship.
You can now also explore Laura and her partner Aman's beautifully designed inner-city home in Never Too Small latest feature article and video titled 'Hidden Garden House Sydney'. 

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