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Studio Pieter Stockmans: Quality, Craftsmanship and Love

Jul 23, 2020

Celebrating his 80th birthday this autumn, Belgian visual artist Piet Stockmans presents a new publication as well as a new exhibition in the former metal warehouse of the Winterslag coal mine, which coincidentally, is where his studio, Studio Pieter Stockmans, is also located.

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Piet Stockmans is a Belgian visual artist, as well as the founder and designer at Studio Pieter Stockmans, which specializes in hard porcelain. This autumn, Stockmans turns 80. To celebrate this special birthday, he will present a new exhibition in the former metal warehouse of the Winterslag coal mine, now the C-mine cultural center in Genk, where the Studio Pieter Stockmans is located. His birthday also coincides with ten years of collaboration between Stockmans and the site of the old mine. To mark the occasion, an exceptional A3-size book will also be printed in a run of 300 copies, including a special edition combined with a porcelain carrier.

Studio Pieter Stockmans is an example of a family business where quality, craftsmanship, love, and expertise are passed on down the generations. Since 1987 the studio has been focusing on small, unique collections that are all handmade in the studio in Genk. The objects (crockery and vases) that originate from Studio Pieter Stockmans are the result of a combination of traditional craft production and a contemporary approach, and the quality of Stockmans’ porcelain is amongst the very highest in the world. The studio has been known since the start for its experimental approach to a limited series of porcelain. As a designer, Piet Stockmans is constantly pushing the boundaries of porcelain. He creates exceptional design objects that acquire a national and international reputation.

Among its other achievements, the studio designed and created the trophy for the Memorial Vandamme and the plates for the princely wedding in Monaco. Leading chefs from all over the world also like to come to the studio for their tableware. Studio Pieter Stockmans supplies tailor-made collections to restaurants with three Michelin stars in Belgium, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the USA, and Switzerland. Luxury brands such as Dom Pérignon also enjoy working with the studio.

Piet Stockmans’ work can also be seen in well-known museums such as the Victoria & Albert in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In 1988 Piet received the Staatsprijs voor de beeldende kunst, and he was the Cultural Ambassador of Flanders in 1995. In 1996 he received the prestigious Red Dot Award and two years later he received the Henry Van de Velde Prize for his entire oeuvre. The studio is still the only Belgian specialist in design for hard porcelain.

Although Piet Stockmans is still active in the studio, he handed over the daily management of the studio to his daughter Widukind in 2007. Frank Claesen has been designing for the Pieter Stockmans Studio since 1998 and is further expanding the Pieter Stockmans collection. Together with their team of six, they continue the special tradition of handmade hard porcelain.

The porcelain art of the Studio Pieter Stockmans combines traditional production with a contemporary approach. The studio has been known for its experimental approach to limited series of porcelain since 1987. The studio constantly pushes the boundaries of porcelain and produces exceptional design objects of national and international renown. The Studio Pieter Stockmans collection consists of installations, vases, jewellery, business gifts and exclusive custom-made crockery. All pieces are completely handmade, and each product is provided with a stamp and a certificate of authenticity. This guarantees that the object is handcrafted, made in a small series, and originates from the studio of Pieter Stockmans Belgium. No two plates are alike. These differences also give the objects their unique character and a ‘genuine Pieter Stockmans’ is easily recognisable.

The studio at the former mining site of the C-mine in Genk is the only Belgian specialist in hard porcelain design. Each design is handmade from A-Z in the studio in Genk. Although Piet Stockmans is still active in the studio, he handed over the daily management of the studio to his daughter Widukind in 2007. Frank Claesen has been designing for the Pieter Stockmans Studio since 1998 and is further expanding the Pieter Stockmans collection. Together with their team of six, they continue to extend the special tradition of handmade hard porcelain.

It requires a lot of time and patience to produce a Pieter Stockmans product. Porcelain cannot be formed; on the contrary, it forms those who make it. There are seventeen separate actions required for the creation of each piece, and each action needs meticulous attention. Every step in the process contributes to the exceptional final result.

Hard porcelain is baked at 1400 °C. This high temperature and the specific atmosphere in the kiln result in a product that is snow-white and completely sintered. It is no longer porous, and you can use it and clean it unglazed. The absence of a glaze means that you do not leave fingerprints on it when serving, which is an undeniable advantage. Each product is subject to an individual technical approach. Due to the high temperature, the porcelain shrinks by 17% while being fired.

Studio Pieter Stockmans is known for their crockery in white and a typical blue, which soon received the name Stockmans Blue. This colour can best be described as the blue of a Belgian summer sky, a hue Piet discovered while experimenting with colours. At a temperature of 1,400 °C, the cold blue is the only primary colour that doesn’t burn in the kiln. The blue gives the virginal white of the porcelain a new, richer dimension.

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