National Gallery Singapore
Visitors come to the National Gallery Singapore to see the biggest art collection in South East Asia and, surrounded by French architect Jean-François Milou’s lovely interior, art enthusiasts cannot fail to notice some amazing oversized clay pebbles. Their smooth shapes are both organic and mineral, as if hailing from unknown lands. “The museum director discovered our K collection in 2015 when it was on show at Club 21. Sixteen pieces were selected for the museum”, explains Dries Janssens who, together with his two brothers, is at the helm of this family company founded by his father Willy in 1992. Vierkant means square in Flemish and the name sounds rather like a statement of intent. In fact, the former horticulturalist Willy Janssens started making pots because he wanted original containers for his bay trees. Faced with increasing competition from the Dutch horticultural industry, it was vital to find new opportunities for growth so the firm took the audacious step of focussing on the container rather than its contents. “It was a question of survival. My father started making his own square pots, as there weren’t any available on the market at the time. My mother designed them. Their idea was to create a range of simple, contemporary shapes.” And it certainly turned out very well. It wasn’t long before their collections of sculptural, textured pots caught the eye of architects and landscape gardeners worldwide. Today the export market accounts for 95% of Atelier Vierkant’s turnover and some 45 people design and manufacture the collections in its workshops in Bruges and Ostend. The clay forms seem to hesitate between a state of equilibrium and a penchant for the excessive – some pieces weigh nearly a ton. The company applies its know-how and high level of quality to meet the requirements of an upmarket international clientele, such as the prestigious Cheval Blanc hotel in the Maldives.