Hunting and Collecting’s Niels and Aude

In 2010 Niels (39) and Aude (30) opened Hunting and Collecting, a concept store that quickly rose to worldwide stardom, becoming one of Brussels’ most hyped spots in the process – and not just for the clothes shopping. Aude, a former fashion editor and Niels, a visual artist and former event planner, insist that Hunting and Collecting is much more than just a clothes shop, and they are right. It has become a platform for contemporary culture, featuring everything from music and books to decorative objects and fashion. What’s extra special is every month they host events, art expos, and sometimes they even throw parties.

Why is two better than one?

N: We are in constant dialogue and decide everything together. Doubts can be discussed, and when we are both unsure about something, for example in a showroom, then we don’t go for it. And with two sets of skills, you just have a bigger toolbox. We have the same vision, but different ways of doing it.

A: We pretty much complete each other. And the amount of work could never be handled by just one person. Actually, we’d need four!

Isn’t two harder than one?

N: No. Of course it can sometimes be a bit time-consuming to reach a compromise, but we haven’t really had this problem so far.

A: It’s only been two years, so we are still doing OK!

Does 1+1 always equal 2?

N: Everything is always bigger than the sum of its parts. Take a coffee for example: you mix it with sugar and it becomes something totally new. It’s all about the experience that comes with it.

A: Well said. Nothing to add to that.

Do either of you ever wish it was just 1? (Be honest!)

N: Never. We bring the best out of each other. It wouldn’t be the same. We are really lucky when it comes to that. We don’t even need to talk much, sometimes we just look at each other and know what the other one is thinking.

A: And this project is just impossible to carry out alone. Also, I need Niels’ opinion on things, I’m so used to discussing everything with him. It wouldn’t be fun all on my own. Together we form a well-functioning motor.

Is 2 better than 3? They say never 2 without 3…

N: Actually we should be four, considering the size of the place. But it would be very strange to have a third person taking decisions with us. That would create a very strange dynamic.

A: That would be very weird. We’ve planned this project together and know every corner of this place. We have exactly the same vision and are like one. Of course we need helpers, worker bees as they say, but when it comes to decision-making, it’s just the two of us. We have problems delegating work in general, because we like to do everything ourselves.

N: We are quite the control freaks, actually!

Do either of you ever feel alone, even when you’re two?

N: The only moments we are alone are in the shower or the toilet!

Can you remember a life without your +1?

A: I’ve always worked in big teams before and was never my own boss, so this is totally different. It’s our thing and we decide everything.

N: I’ve worked in duos before and sometimes it worked and at other times not. I guess when you become more mature it works better. Anyway, I am much happier now, I should have done this much earlier!

Is it all 50/50?

A: We do almost everything together anyway. The sum is always the same. Niels never lets me clogg up the holes in the wall, though!

N: It always feels 50/50. We call each other every two seconds, you should see our phone bills!