This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Vanessa Bean


Last year you might recall we did a little gift guide in collaboration with Etsy, and there was ONE piece which you guys really, REALLY loved (and we did too). It was the sweetest handpainted ceramic vase, with a friendly, cartoon-like face, made by Sydney based Vanessa Holle, aka Vanessa Bean.

Today we finally follow up with a visit to Vanessa’s Sydney studio, and a closer look at her cheerful ceramic creations.

4th July, 2016
Lucy Feagins
Monday 4th July 2016

After working as a graphic designer for ‘20ish’ years, Vanessa Holle discovered ceramics around six years ago. She took a community college evening course in porcelain jewellery, and by her own account, became ‘instantly hooked’. For a couple of years, as she honed her skills, Vanessa balanced graphic design projects with ceramic experiments, but these days her sole focus is her ceramics, which she sells online and via exhibitions and studio sales.

Vanessa’s designs are inspired by a sense of joy and playfulness. ‘I am drawn to figurative sculpture, and have always loved the idea that everyday functional objects can be given a personality, whether it is animal or human’ she says.

‘I can’t help putting a face on most of the things I make!’ – Vanessa Holle.

Vanessa makes various ceramic things, but her most popular offering are her vases, with their simple, endearing painted faces. In fact, they have a cult following! ’I sell around 30 vases every three weeks or so through my Etsy store as a batch release’ Vanessa explains. ‘They go pretty quickly, and unfortunately it is a bit of a scramble for the purchaser and can be stressful, but seems to be the fairest way.’ Vanessa’s next batch of vases is timed to go live this Thursday 7th July via her ETSY store – jump on it!

Vanessa Holle of Vanessa Bean in her Sydney studio. Photo – Nikki To for The Design Files.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email