Architecture by Vincent Van Duysen
1 March 2010
It is the day Graanmarkt 13 launches a new perfume. They are working for hours on a beautiful green installation by top florist Mark Colle. In the meantime, Ilse, the owner, gives me a tour of the house.
Ilse and Tim had a dream to open a store where they could bring their favorite brands under one roof and live there at the same time. In Antwerp they found the Graanmarkt 13 building: “It was completely worn out,” says Ilse, “And together with architect Vincent van Duysen we renovated the entire building in three years.” They first opened the store where they sold fashion brands such as Isabel Marant and Marni alongside small and larger design, lifestyle and beauty products.
However, from this year on, they take a completely different approach towards their procurement: “Nowadays the fashion world is so fast that we want to turn it around and go back to a slower pace. To sell timeless pieces you can wear for years. And are not limited to fashion seasons anymore.” They don’t sell Isabel Marant and Marni anymore, but they do sell kashmir sweaters Extreme Cashmere or a blazer by Monique van Heist. “Also we’ve stopped with the bi-annual sale. Twice a year we now organize an event where customers can hand in their old clothing that we sell in the store. It’s so nice to see customers coming in with items they bought seven years ago, when we opened the store, and are still beautiful.”
We walk up the stairs, Vincent van Duysen’s concrete staircase, to the first floor where the store continues. Of course they sell design from MullerVanSeveren, but also agendas from Marjolein Delhaas and bags from Susan Bijl.
We now take the elevator to the top floor of the building where The Apartment is located. Once their home, now they rent it out to guests. This is one of those places where your mouth drops open when you enter: light, robust, minimalistic and very stylish. “Vincent is known for the fact that he hides everything behind the cabinets doors which ensures a serene atmosphere in the interior. And at the same time it is very practical because we can have a big television, but it’s only visible when we want it to be.”
There’s a big beige sofa, many plants, a long robust table with Thonet chairs and a black kitchen with a view over the city. Although the city view is visible throughout the whole apartment. Ilse shows me her favorite view: “The Stadsschouwburg is quite ugly if you see it from the ground, but if you look at it from here, it’s such a beautiful building.”
One floor down you can find the bedrooms and the prosper bathroom. The Master Bedroom has a built-in bookcase around the bed frame for the ultimate Sunday morning feeling. The marble bath is a real eye-catcher: “Also made by Vincent and quite a delivery to get it in place. I really wanted to have a dressing table complete with theatre lights in the bathroom. Vincent didn’t quite like the idea, but he made it, again, just like the shower, inside the cabinets and is now very content with it.” There are three bedrooms and a bathroom. So you can spend the night here with eight persons in total. The Apartment is booked by guests who stay there with the two of them, but also for friends who have dinner together and then stay overnight.
When we descend all the way down we find the restaurant of Seppe Nobels. A healthy and honest restaurant where you can eat fish and meat, but where vegetables have an extra special place in the spotlight. Ilse shows me the rooftop garden where, even at the end of November, the chef finds some of his ingredients. Although not as much as in the summer. There are beehives on the roof for the honey. And apart from that, Seppe visits many farms for the other fresh ingredients. The restaurant has already been voted ‘Best Vegetable Restaurant from Flanders’.
What I also like to see is the crossover between beautiful spots such as Graanmarkt 13 and Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon. When I was there in January, Joao, the owner already told me that he would like to invite Seppe for dinner in his restaurant. And that has happened several times this year. They also innovate regularly in the kitchen of Graanmarkt 13: “Seppe noticed that people drink less wine nowadays. Of course this fully fits in with the healthy food movement of today. So we started thinking of a special lemonade syrup with of course the best ingredients in it. We have had the launch in Colette in Paris recently and it will be available soon.”
And then there is, last but certainly not least, the perfume launch: “For everything we do at Graanmarkt 13 we work together with the best people. Mark Colle for the flowers, Vincent van Duysen for the interior, Seppe Nobels for the restaurant. And for the perfume we have worked with Lyn Harris from Perfumer H. Made. We have an eau de parfum for him, her and home. Scented candles. And a travel set.” So you can completely wrap yourself in Graanmarkt 13 with a night in The Apartment, a dinner in the restaurant, the purchase of a fantastic Maxi Peignoir by CristaSeya and by spraying on their new perfume.
Check out: www.graanmarkt13.com