In Conversation with Jan Vogelpoel

Combining a Mid-century design aesthetic with a contemporary minimalist approach, Jan Vogelpoel’s intuitive and fervent process produces ceramic sculptures that hold an ethereal presence in any space, effortlessly reflecting connection, fluidity and strength.

Read our chat with Jan below, part of our 'Creative People and Processes' series.


Jan Vogelpoel in her studio shot by Bed Threads

Can you take us through your creative process?

I usually start a new design with an inspired idea; I would say I am mostly inspired by architecture. I sketch out a few ideas and then I build from my sketch, which doesn’t always work out because proportions and scale can be tricky but mostly it just flows and I get completely lost in the process. It’s a beautiful thing - I can build for hours and it feels like minutes. I enjoy designing pieces that work together, two or three that have a connection and tell a story.
Seeing a new form develop is so rewarding. I build using hand rolled coils and depending on what I’m building, a piece can take around half a day to two days, and sometimes more. When the clay has firmed up and dried out for a day or two I then refine and shape, constantly watching over them during the drying stage and make little refinements along the way. Once they are completely dry I finesse a little more and carefully pack them up to deliver them to the Kiln Room, where Pie Bolton magically fires them. I love my trip to the kiln room, there's always that feeling of anticipation hoping for a successful firing. After a few days I pick them up, and once home I seal them, photograph them and pack them up so they can head off to their new homes. Time to kiss them and wave goodbye! 

How experimental are you throughout the making process?

I’m constantly thinking about new designs and ideas which I make time to develop away from my orders. I’m very conscious about innovation and newness which is the most exciting part of the process for me. I’ve evolved over the years and experimented with different building techniques, clay and glazes, and am now focusing on a more raw and honest aesthetic where the clay and the form is the hero.


Space Cadet + Ultra Lounge




Future Curve




Space Cadet + Ultra Lounge + Ultra Curve

How has your background in graphic design and interiors styling helped to inform your process and  practice? 

Graphic design is all about good design and marketing, interior styling is about creating a beautiful space that tells a story, so I think this has helped me immensely. It's given me a great holistic view of the process and enabled me to handle all aspects of my work, which is very rewarding and empowering.

You discuss being influenced by Japanese restraint, Mid-century design and recently produced brutalist-inspired pieces. How do you think this milieu of inspiration contributes to your work and new ideas? 

I have a thing for Mid-century design. I gravitate towards this style, so you can clearly see these influences in my work but at the same time I try to give it a more modern take, pairing it back with the considered restraint of the Japanese aesthetic. And there’s just something so honest and pleasing about brutalist work. This all comes quite naturally to me, I don’t try and work it too hard or think about it too much.

Have you seen a stylistic change in your work over a period of time? 

For sure, I think most artists will say the same, we are constantly experimenting and discovering until we find our true style and even then we are still evolving. It's satisfying that creative monster that's never quite satisfied and hungry for more!


“It just flows from my head, through my heart and into my hands.”




Brutalist Tiles


Future Curve




Space Cadet + Ghostly Misfit Tile

You have a beautiful distinction between your 3D sculptures and your 2D framed sculptures. How do you prefer your work to be viewed and interacted with?

I like to think my sculptures present themselves with confidence and have a strong presence that make a statement in a room. The 2D framed tiles excite me as the idea of a manipulated piece of the earth on a wall gives great dimension and innovation in my mind.
All of my work needs light, natural is always ideal and directional natural light is the ultimate as this creates such great shadow and light play. The white clay bounces and reflects light, almost glowing, while the black absorbs the light, feeling moody, grounded and strong. They're complete contrasts but equally as interesting on the eye.

What excites you about the future of your work? Do you have any new avenues you’re looking to explore? 

No big plans on the horizon for now, Craft Victoria have invited me to exhibit at the end of the year. I think that with all the chaos going on I’m keeping things close to home and simple. I’m currently building away fulfilling orders and experimenting with new forms, constantly challenging myself. I'm always inspired to create new and exciting work that I just love seeing styled up in well-considered spaces.

Images provided by Jan Vogelpoel 

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