“Creation is the result of activity and not thinking. It is activity that generates ideas which, themselves, give rise to other ones. It is a process in the course of which decisive choices are made in a mysterious way. It is the automatism with which the farmer ploughs the fields, a phenomenon that can be compared to the way prayers are used, mantras recited or everyday gestures repeated. It is a quest for simplicity, peace, physical well-being.”
Ceramist and designer Piet Stockmans is renowned for his delicate porcelain creations. Three decades of exploration and refinement of a singular medium has allowed him to become an artist who knows a material intimately, who has control over its state of being and who can create meaning in forms that become catalysts for ideas about living differently.
Stockmans dwells in a symbiotic state between artistic expression and industrial design. “My industrial work is produced by my head, my free work stems from my body,” Stockmans often states in his lectures. He is at once an industrial designer who works according to the rules imposed by industry while at the time an artist who reacts against this and renders useful items dysfunctional through its actions.
When Piet’s focus is turned to so-called everyday objects, they are elevated to ethereal works of art. Plates, cups and vases are often eggshell thin. For the Dutch company Royal Mosa, for whom he worked between 1966-1989, Stockmans designed one of the world’s most ubiquitous coffee cups, Sonja – of which 30 million pieces have been produced to date. During his 26 years at Mosa he designed more than 150 different pieces in china.
In 1987 he started his own design firm, Studio Piet Stockmans. The strong conceptual, ritual, and repetitive nature of his free work evokes associations with visual artists such as Richard Long and Donald Judd and with music composers Richard Reich and Philip Glass. Stockmans is noted for his dramatic installations, one of which he created upon an entire wall of Luminaire’s Chicago showroom.
During NeoCon in Chicago in June 2006, Luminaire showcased the work of Piet Stockmans in the group exhibition ‘Belgian Brilliance Takes Many Forms’. His ‘Floating Wall of Porcelain’ amazed audiences at the 4D exhibition in Luminaire Contract during Design Miami in December of that same year, and for the 2006 Puppy Love exhibition and auction at Luminaire, Stockmans used his signature porcelain to give a 3D plastic puppy sculptural ‘wings’ that twist and flow through space in his piece ‘It’s the wind.’ According to Stockmans, ‘In the storm of the present, the puppy stands steady to reach its target and be helpful.’ The puppy was auctioned at Luminaire to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.
In 2008, Stockmans collaborated with his daughter Widukind Stockmans to create a piece for the second incarnation of the ‘Love’ series, PaperLove. ‘Father and Daughter’ presented two books, one made of porcelain pages and was unreadable, representing Stockmans’ life. The other was soft and readable, representing Widukind and speaking of the cooperation with her father. Side by side, ‘Father and Daughter’ books play off of each other while creating one piece that experiments with textures and mediums and tells a story without words.