Inside the Unique 1960s-Inspired Home of Ceramic Artist Jan Vogelpoel
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to the home of Jan Vogelpoel.
Melbourne-based artist Jan Vogelpoel makes some of the most unique and striking sculptures we’ve ever laid our eyes on. Born in the UK and raised in South Africa, Jan draws on her graphic design skills to hand-build one-of-a-kind pieces that celebrate fluidity and form.
A huge fan of mid-century modern design, Jan’s work feels reminiscent of bygone relics while still exuding a contemporary sensibility. It’s no wonder Melbourne art and design institution Modern Times features her ceramics in their covetable roster.
The entrance to her home in Melbourne’s inner-city suburb of Kew is almost as showstopping as her shapeshifting ceramic sculptures—with vibrant circular carpets and an enviable array of pots and planters beckoning you inside.
Up the stairs, her polished and creative eye comes to life. A palette of pea, forest and lime green work together in harmony, whilst a stunning teak drink cart displays an assortment of tinted glassware, trinkets, and treasures. Vibrant art speaks with the colour schemes of each room, whilst Jan’s sculptures mingle with her vast collection of vintage wares.
In her studio, natural light floods the space, as incredible curved Perspex chairs mimic the playful forms she shapes with her hands. Surrounded by trees and bountiful birdlife, it’s no wonder she loves going to work here every day.
Hi Jan! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I work with clay—experiment with ceramics, but mostly build clay sculptures.
I’ve evolved over the years and experimented with different building techniques and glazes, and am now focusing on a more clean, raw, and honest aesthetic which I feel is relevant to my lifestyle at the moment.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I have a passion for the process of bringing an idea to life through building sculptural pieces that carry the energy of nature and the maker, which I find grounding and challenging, but ultimately rewarding. The challenge of the build, the shaping and refining, the photography, and then finally letting my sculptures go all speak to different aspects of my personality. It’s a beautiful cycle and stimulates my creative monster.
When did you start working with clay and creating ceramic pieces? And what inspired you to go down this route in your career?
I’ve been working with clay for around two decades—evening classes with a glass of wine and girlfriends. Relocating to Melbourne has given me the opportunity to reinvent myself. I reconnected with Tracy Muirhead who I knew in Cape Town, she invited me to work in her ceramic studio. I loved her space and working with clay every day, and along with loads of encouragement from Tracy and my friend Joanna, I decided to have a career change and go for clay full time.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I usually wake up early in the morning, or at random times of the day with an inspired idea and sketch it out. I build from my sketch, which doesn’t always work out because proportions and scale can be tricky sometimes, 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.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
I haven’t actually considered a business strategy, which is probably a first for me. I have kept the process quite spontaneous; I am literally going with the flow and it feels so good! Instagram has been the best tool in terms of creating an awareness and establishing my work along with representation of Modern Times.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
Moving to a new city and starting a new career needs a positive attitude and initiative. Reinventing oneself requires energy and passion.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
Being part of the clay community, a more slow-paced lifestyle, and enjoying working with my hands. Also, discovering a whole new creative path and the excitement of new ideas and opportunities.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/ someone looking to start their own business?
Believe in the law of attraction and timing. Focus on your passion and connect with likeminded people, get yourself out there, take opportunities, and be inspired!
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
Two years and counting.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
Driving down the peaceful tree-lined street felt so good. Arriving at the house and stepping onto its oak floors and feeling the light through the large windows felt great. We decided this would be a great space for us to rent for the next couple of years.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
A spontaneous collection of pieces over the years, a love for mid-century modern, contemporary design, pattern, colour, travel.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
I have quite a few. Our olive green mid-century sideboard, Knoll side tables, Georgina Gratrix’s “Feeling Shy’ print and the butterfly stool by Sori Yanagi.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I’m coveting the Cleopatra Daybed by Andre Cordemeyer from Modern Times and the Volley setting from Made by Tait.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
My studio space with its gorgeous light. I just love going to work every day!
Tell us about your bedroom.
I love the large windows which brings the outside in. We’re surrounded by trees, birdlife and constantly changing light. It’s a little more peaceful than the other rooms in the house.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
Surround yourself with pieces that talk to you and bring on a smile. Be inspired by local and international trends, but don’t completely take them on.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
Modern Times have invited me to be featured as their ‘Artist in Focus’, which is very exciting. I have some new work which I will be launching with them soon.
Loved this home tour? Olive Cooke Invites Us Into Her Self-Designed '70s-Style Sanctuary