In recent years we’ve seen a number of retail spaces that blur the line between public and private. No longer do stores fit neatly into the ‘commercial’ box, where the aim is simply to ‘buy’, but they are designed for people to enjoy being in – warm and inviting and much more like home. Graanmarkt 13 takes that to a whole new level; you can stay.
Situated in the middle of Antwerp on a tree-lined cobbled square, is the neo-classical town house (reworked by Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen) that holds the retail store, restaurant, and (now) rentable ‘The Apartment’. Though the three facets each have their own distinguishing characteristics, throughout Graanmarket 13 the spaces are warm and textural, pared back and designed for comfort.
The Apartment – a duplex style very homely, very luxurious and very sophisticated space. Combining Van Duysen’s signature brutalist style and inspiration from the surrounding environment, using the views of the city and treetops as important parts in the final design, the space is bold and minimal, but also warm and earthy. And perhaps what makes it so is the fine use of materials – simple textures applied in generous quantities in the right way. Throughout The Apartment, which has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living and dining room and fully equipped kitchen, are various materials that applied as they are together create an overall sense of comfort and style. There is metal, stone and concrete, exposed wood and natural fabrics; there is ample space and lots of glass to let sun in, soft furnishings and thoughtful details. “It’s about creating warmth, atmosphere and beauty through a careful attention to the inherent qualities in materials and how they sit, both with one another and in the space itself,” explains Van Duysen. The other secret ingredient that makes The Apartment work so well as a rentable space that one feels truly at home in, of course, is that it is that founders Tim Van Geloven and Ilse Cornelissens lived in it themselves. “We just packed our bags and kids’ toys and left it as we knew how well it worked,” explains Cornelissens. The Apartment might be for rent but that comes after the fact it is a real home; to make it for rent happened naturally and could not have simply happened on a whim. No, this kind of concept takes time and is one of a kind as a result. “We will never create a new Graanmarkt 13 on another spot, you can only create such a personal place once,” says Cornelissens. And that, we admire.
On the ground floor is the concept store, which sells high-end fashion, accessories, and collectibles, all carefully selected by Graanmarkt 13 founders Van Geloven and Cornelissens and art director Bob Verhelst. Again, the space is modern and yet warm – long draping curtains, homely rugs and vases of flowers sit alongside steel clothes racks and wooden floors, large glass windows and white walls.
The restaurant, which is situated in the basement continues this perfect mix of class and comfort at Graanmarkt 13.