It all started in the summer of 2017 when Frank Bruggeman bought a globular, hanging, Mobach vase online. To his dismay, the late-1970s Dutch design icon arrived in pieces. Something had gone terribly wrong in transit. Attempting to repair it was futile: there were simply too many fragments. When Bruggeman realised he couldn’t throw away the shards, he began to think about another use for them. He decided that they should once again become part of a three-dimensional vase. This was the genesis of his first shard vase, in which he attached the fragments to a cylindrical container in such a way that they only gained in expressiveness. The result is a new vase that looks far more fragile than the ‘donor vase’, while simultaneously conveying the message: don’t touch me because I can seriously hurt you.

After that first shard vase, Bruggeman realised that similar objects could result from a completely different emotion to that of sadness at a damaged vase. In many languages there is a saying that goes ‘shards bring good fortune’ and in many countries there is a wedding ritual in which old or unwanted crockery is smashed to wish the couple a happy marriage. With this ritual in mind, Bruggeman deliberately destroyed a number of ceramic vases and earthenware objects from his own collection in order to incorporate the fragments in a series of shard vases.

Shards created by misfortune and shards intended to bestow happiness: both ultimately yielding the same result. Which is no surprise because happiness and unhappiness are two sides of the same coin. What is happiness except the absence of unhappiness? Only those who have ever been deeply unhappy will truly understand what happiness is.