ConsiderBeyond: How has your approach to ceramics evolved since you first started Grace of Glaze?
Simone Doesburg: My approach to ceramics has evolved significantly since I first started Grace of Glaze. The most notable transformation has occurred in my approach to color. Initially, I emphasized harmony within the colors I combined. I was drawn to using more muted and tranquil color palettes to infuse an overall sense of serenity into the collections I created.
However, as time has passed, my perspective on color has become bolder and more adventurous. I've not only become more daring in combining various colors within a single product but also in curating collections that showcase a wider spectrum of colors. I have come to appreciate the diverse range of experiences that different colors can evoke.
Some hues exude something comforting and warm, like earthy tones, while others draw you in with their subdued and contemplative qualities. In contrast, brighter and livelier colors infuse a sense of fresh energy and vibrancy.
This journey has allowed me to navigate the entire spectrum of color possibilities. I adore combining a deep, subdued color with a light and bright counterpart, as it creates a delightful tension and harmony together.
ConsiderBeyond: How has the cultural and artistic landscape of the Netherlands shaped the design and aesthetic of your brand?
Simone Doesburg: The aesthetic of Grace of Glaze contrasts with the typical Dutch sensibility. In the Netherlands, there's a strong emphasis on practicality and a down-to-earth approach to life. The significance of craftsmanship and aesthetics isn't always appreciated or understood.
ConsiderBeyond: How did your time at Design Academy Eindhoven and working with different materials shape your approach to ceramics and design?
Simone Doesburg: My time at the Design Academy Eindhoven profoundly influenced my approach to ceramics and design, especially regarding materials. The academy emphasizes experimentation and a hands-on approach to the creative process.
One key lesson I learned was distinguishing between two design approaches I continuously switch between: designing from the top down and designing from the bottom up. Designing from the top down starts with a clear idea and then manipulating materials to fit that concept. In contrast, designing from the bottom up emphasizes experimentation, collaboration between the material and the maker, and letting the creative process unfold organically. I believe that the latter approach often leads to more intriguing and innovative design outcomes, allowing me to explore and push the boundaries of the medium.
Working with various materials at the Design Academy Eindhoven encouraged crossover inspiration. Ideas from one material or discipline can seamlessly influence and enhance another's design. This creative freedom is invaluable as an artist.
ConsiderBeyond: What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur and growing your brand?
Simone Doesburg: As a designer working to become an entrepreneur, I've encountered several challenges along the way. Despite coming from a creative family, none of them had ventured into turning their creativity into a profession. This meant I had to navigate many aspects of entrepreneurship on my own. However, I've always felt their unwavering support. My mother, for instance, constantly reminded me that my ceramics were not just a hobby but a profession. This distinction influenced important decisions that contributed to the success of Grace of Glaze.
Over time, I recognized the importance of surrounding myself with like-minded individuals, especially female entrepreneurs who provided valuable insights and assistance. One such individual was my neighbor, who brought retail experience to the table, helping me understand the intricacies of selling my products effectively.
In 2019, I officially launched my brand, and the first year was very successful. However, I embarked on this journey without any formal education in business management, pricing strategies, or other essential entrepreneurial skills. It was a steep learning curve, but I found immense joy in the process. Regrettably, the onset of the pandemic brought a sudden halt to the momentum I had built. Most of my sales came from supplying stores and restaurants, and the pandemic significantly decreased their orders. Connecting directly with individual clients was challenging during this period.
By 2022, things began to improve, but in the summer, I severely injured one of my hands. I couldn't make any ceramics for eight months. This period was incredibly tough for me as I was in a lot of pain, and the recovery process was extremely slow. I feared that I might never be able to continue with this type of work.
Additionally, the day-to-day struggles of working with ceramics presented their own set of challenges. Weather conditions, for instance, significantly impact how my clay behaves. The heat of the summer can cause the porcelain to become too liquid, and the cold of winter has the opposite effect. Over time, I have learned to adapt to these conditions, but they can still disrupt my work for weeks.
Furthermore, dealing with the discontinuation of raw materials or encountering variations in new batches has been an ongoing challenge. It requires constant adjustment and a willingness to adapt to unforeseen changes in my production process.
ConsiderBeyond: Among all the pieces you've created, is there one that holds a special place in your heart because of the story behind it or the challenges it presented?
Simone Doesburg: Creating Grace of Glaze has been a significant accomplishment for me. It feels as though I've had this aesthetic vision within me for many years, but it took a long time to fully realize and visualize it. After years of relentless experimentation, it finally took shape right before my eyes. What captivates me about the Grace of Glaze aesthetic, and still does, are its gentle, soft shapes and subtle color transitions juxtaposed with the most unconventional and daring color combinations. It's like experiencing an overwhelming sense of gentleness amid the unexpected and bold, which is truly special to me.
ConsiderBeyond: Are there any recent innovations in ceramics that intrigue you or that you hope to see come into fruition?
Simone Doesburg: I am excited about the increasing inclusion of slipcasting and moldmaking in the ceramic community. Traditionally, ceramics largely revolved around handbuilding or wheelthrowing techniques. However, seeing individual artists increasingly adopt slipcasting and moldmaking, techniques once typical for mass production, is intriguing. It suggests exciting possibilities for the ceramic art community.
ConsiderBeyond: You frequently share the behind-the-scenes journey of your product creation. How do you prioritize education and transparency in your brand?
Simone Doesburg: For me, both the creation process and the final product are equally important. Witnessing the transformation of raw materials evolve into porcelain cups, bowls, or plates over a few weeks is incredibly satisfying. I'm genuinely passionate about showcasing this journey's beauty through documentation.
In today's world of mass production, there's often a lack of knowledge about how products are made, leading to a diminished appreciation for the items we surround ourselves with. Therefore, I prioritize education to provide insight into my crafting process. By sharing the behind-the-scenes process and insights, I aim to foster a deeper connection between my customers and my creations, helping them value my craftsmanship and the uniqueness of each piece.
ConsiderBeyond: How do you ensure sustainability in your production process and materials?
Simone Doesburg: Sustainability is very important in my production process. I've implemented several measures to ensure a more sustainable approach. I have prioritized the use of insulating bricks in my kiln. While this may slow down the cooling process, it is a critical step in making the kiln more energy-efficient. The nature of the production process ensures that no material is lost, so I have adopted a zero-waste philosophy. Sustainability is also integrated into the production process itself. Each product receives careful attention and is crafted with precision. This approach allows me to minimize production errors, resulting in more products meeting the desired quality standards.
I also believe in the power of creating products that are precious. When people perceive something as valuable, they tend to handle it with greater care and appreciation. By crafting ceramics that possess a sense of uniqueness and artistry, it fosters a deeper connection between the people and the objects they bring into their lives.
ConsiderBeyond: What advice would you give to aspiring ceramic artists?
Simone Doesburg: Understand the value of your work: as an artist, only you know the creativity and time that go into your art form. Don’t be afraid to value your work and charge for it accordingly.
Prioritize safety: Ceramics involve exposure to materials and chemicals. Ensure you have proper safety measures in place, such as good ventilation and safety equipment like a proper mask.
ConsiderBeyond: How do you balance the demands of running a business with the creative process?
Simone Doesburg: I am continually learning to find a balance between running a business, the creative process and personal well-being. Working with porcelain offers direct feedback; if I create products when I'm feeling a bit stressed or rushed, it often reflects in the end product.
Additionally, there have been instances where I have ideas for new creative projects but couldn’t find the time to pursue them due to the demands of managing the business. It is an ongoing journey of discovering what works best to remain grounded, maintain the quality of my creative work and manage my business effectively.
ConsiderBeyond: Are there any upcoming collections or collaborations we can look forward to?
Simone Doesburg: From the 12th of October 2023 to the 7th of January 2024, my work will be exhibited in a Dutch palace at an exhibition titled "The Women of Soestdijk." The Soestdijk Palace owes its illustrious status to the women who loved to stay here during the summer over the past centuries. In "The Women of Soestdijk," the rich history of this palace, combined with beautiful portraits, photos, contemporary fashion, design, and craft, will be on display. Grace of Glaze hopes to see you there!
Grace of Glaze