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It wasn’t written in the stars that Ann Van Hoey, born and raised in the beautiful Belgian city of Mechelen, would one day become a world-famous ceramicist. As a commercial engineer, Ann had a talent for mathematics and sciences, which she combined with a love for sports. Although she worked for numerous years in the furniture industry, she felt from the age of 25 on the call of the craft, of making things from the ground up with her own hands. In the following years, Ann became a loyal student of the IKA Art and Craft Academy in Mechelen where she discovered her interest in and talent for ceramics.
Despite her inquisitive and competitive attitude, life catches up with you and Ann’s family and career were given priority. It wasn’t until the age of 45 when she returned to the academy to focus more on her calling, in order to graduate at the age of 50.
Some say life begins at 50. Well, Ann Van Hoey is one of those women who prove that starting a successful business, switching careers later in life can really pay off in the sense that it’s never too late to pursue your passion. And Ann’s passion definitely is becoming excellent in ceramics. In Dutch, they even got a word for that: steengoed worden, literally translated as ‘becoming as good as stone’. Little did she know she would one day become one of the leading ceramicists in the world.
The first years in business are often the toughest. In Ann’s case, that meant letting go of focusing on the actual (labor) cost and sales of her earlier work, but instead trying to stay true to her own style, to what makes her work unique. With the help of Design Flanders, she started to compete in internationally renowned competitions, such as the Taiwan Ceramics Biennale, the Cheongju Craft Biennale, the Henry van de Velde Awards, the International Biannual of Ceramics and the Loewe Crafts Prize.
Her love for geometry and her trips to different parts of the world, including Japan where she discovered the art of origami, gave her a style of her own. This style was internationally appreciated and resulted in exhibitions and collection pieces in museums and galleries all around the world, among which Galerie Hélène Porée in Paris, Puls Contemporary Ceramics in Brussels, Galerie du Don in Le Fel, France, Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taiwan and Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), New York.
But Ann is determined to do more, to mean more. Making a difference is what drove her in multiple collaborations, from which the A+A project, for which she set up a limited edition collection for the Belgian interior brand Serax with ‘Den Ateljee’, a Belgian day center for adults with special needs, has a special place in her heart.