Piet Stockmans’ porcelain is an inspiration for Ralf Berendsen - Domaine La Butte aux Bois
Piet Stockmans’ porcelain is an inspiration for Ralf Berendsen - Relais & Châteaux hotel in België

Piet Stockmans’ porcelain is an inspiration for Ralf Berendsen

‘A plate beautiful enough to write a poem on’

The interest generated from the hotel, restaurant and catering business has played an important role in the extension of porcelain designs by Studio Pieter Stockmans. Well-known chefs like Sergio Herman, Peter Goossens, Thierry Theys, and of course, Ralf Berendsen have chosen his porcelain to display their creations for years.

After training as a designer, Piet arrived by chance in 1963 as a trainee at the Maastricht porcelain factory, Mosa. In 1967 he designed the famous Sonja cup which many Dutch people still drink from today! In conversation with our luxury guest magazine LIFE IN STYLE, and two-star Michelin chef Ralf Berendsen, they discuss the relationship between porcelain and gastronomy.

Piet’s gastronomic success story began in 2005, with a personalised order for Alain Ducasse’s three-star Michelin restaurant Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo, this led to more high-profile orders, such as the marriage of Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock in 2011, catered by Ducasse. Piet created a unique personalised collection to fit with the needs of the wedding breakfast. ‘It was necessary for the waiters to serve the plates quickly, so we made an indentation on top which fitted the waiters’ thumbs. They thought it was a wonderful solution. And we were able to make a thousand pieces, so could sell 450 as a limited edition.’

At the two-star Michelin restaurant La Source, Ralf serves his haute-cuisine creations on Piet’s porcelain. Piet explains the important role porcelain plays to a chef: ‘A plate is a half-finished product – it is only complete when there is something on it. Since the attention has to be on the dish, it must not be too conspicuous. A plate is for a chef what a sheet of paper or a blank screen is for a poet. My task is to ensure the chef can write his culinary poem.’ Ralf agrees: ‘A plate must indeed allow space for creativity. That is very true for Piet’s plates. They radiate a certain tranquillity and – most importantly – they are very beautiful. During the experience of dining your eyes also play a role. You do not go to a Michelin-starred restaurant just to satisfy hunger. A dinner at this level costs a substantial amount of money, but the cuisine is just part of the experience: indulgence is another part.’

Piet still works on the creative side of his business along with daughter Widukind and son-in-law Frank. Widukind comments: ‘My father, my husband and I are a good, complementary team. From time to time we ask an exterior designer to join is. Linde Hermans, for instance. That is how our collection remains varied and contemporary.’

Discover the full interview with Piet and Widukind in our latest issue of LIFE IN STYLE.