Designer Inge Rylant’s Antwerp

Designer, illustrator and graphic designer Inge Rylant (1987) takes us on a tour of Antwerp that goes from bars and restaurants to books and bread.

I’ve been living in Antwerp for more than ten years, and I have to admit having a hate-love relationship with the city. I often feel the need to spend time in busier, bigger and most importantly more international cities, while at the same time enjoying life in Antwerp. I still discover new, fun places and things to do here. I also feel that Antwerp had a boost in entrepreneurship as of late, and that more and more things are happening. I moved to the neighbourhood of Borgerhout three years ago, to one of the busiest and most multicultural streets of the city, and I spend most of my time at home as I’m a freelance designer. My apartment is on the fourth floor, so I’m literally above the hustle and bustle of the streets, and when I step out of my door I find myself thrown into the city chaos, which I love. It isn’t the easiest neighbourhood to live in, but there are nonetheless many cool initiatives starting op, like the Borger Nocturnes and the Borg biennal for contemporary art. The only thing that’s really missing around here are, in my opinion, nice shops, bars and restaurants. For those I head to other parts of town, to Bar Vert (Helenalei 2-4, 2018 Antwerpen), for example, where you can find me feasting on a late breakfast with a glass of amazingly good wine. Also the recently opened Walvis (Walvisstraat 1, 2018 Antwerpen) serves a tasty lunch. For a more elaborate dinner I head to Bistrot Miro (Moorkensplein 28, 2140 Borgerhout). While their menu might seem limited, their dishes are pristine. Don’t forget to make a reservation a couple of weeks in advance when coming during the weekends, as the place is pretty small and well-visited. Catering company Loes&Krikke (Congresstraat 42/101, 2060 Antwerpen) opens their seasonal restaurant twice a year and their homemade spelt pizzas are divine. Little Ethiopia (Zirkstraat 8, 2000 Antwerpen) is the best bet if a cheap and tasty dinner is what you’re after. After dinner I like to get drinks at Plaza Real (Kattenberg 93, 2140 Borgerhout), Café De Kat (Wolstraat 22, 2000 Antwerpen) and Witzli-Poezli (Blauwmoezelstraat 8, 2000 Antwerpen). Bar Gloed (De Keyserlei 5, 2018 Antwerpen) and Bar Paniek (Kattendijkdok – Oostkaai 21B, 2000 Antwerpen) are the ones you should head to for sunset views. I buy my food at Buurderij, an initiative that delivers farm-fresh food to your doorstep. For the best meat in town there’s De Criée (Van schoonhovenstraat 21,2060 Antwerpen), a covered marketplace, and for bread there’s Bakker Aldo (Lange Leemstraat 388, 2018 Antwerpen). Interior shopping happens at Atelier Solarshop (Dambruggestraat 48, 2060 Antwerpen), they have a great selection of antiques and contemporary design. For clothing I like COS (different locations) and F.R.E.D. (Kloosterstraat 13, 2000 Antwerpen), who carries different brands such as the Belgian brand Ginger and the Japanese band Pas de Calais. And I shouldn’t forget to mention the stock sales that take place every season. A must-go if you want to score gorgeous pieces by Christian Wijnants, Stephan Schneider and AF Vandevorst for a steal. Copyright (Nationalestraat 28/A, 2000  Antwerpen) is, in my opinion, the city’s best bookshop in terms of design and art. My favourite gallery is Valerie Traan (Reyndersstraat 12, 2000 Antwerpen). The exhibitions are always surprising and always seem to combine design, art and architecture. Extra City (Eikelstraat 31, 2600 Berchem) also has an innovative program. And the Middelheim Park (Middelheimlaan 61, 2020 Antwerpen) is quintessential in Antwerp, from the classic works to the more contemporary by Erwin Wurm and Kati Heck. When I want to unwind and relax, I might head to the botanical garden (Leopoldstraat 24, 2000 Antwerpen) or the beguinage (Rodestraat 39, 2000 Antwerpen). But in general it’s quite easy to just wander around town and discover new places, time and time again.