The Antwerp Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

To mark the release of our Warriors edition, we've teamed up with This is Antwerp to bring you 100 Antwerp Warriors, a 100-strong selection of local movers and shakers setting the tone for the neighbourhood of tomorrow. From design and architecture to contemporary art and politics, these are the creatives shaping the narrative of the future.

Benjamin Somers

Benjamin Somers

Owner, Native

Can you describe what you do? Where you are based, the neighbourhood you live in, your daily routine, the people you work with, the scene you feel the closest to.

I co-run Native, an innovative and organic bistro. We’re based in the old part of town, not too far away from the Kloosterstraat, with all its lovely vintage and antique shops. We serve fair and healthy meals. Our dishes don’t follow demand, they’re based on what nature can offer us. We break away from the traditional concept of meat or fish accompanied by some greens, and put the spotlight on seasonal vegetables instead. That’s why our dishes are full of natural flavour. In accordance to our own philosophy, we work with trusted local suppliers, which we regularly visit.

How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?

Antwerp is a city in continuous growth. It’s great for tourists thanks to its old town and history, its large amount of old streets and buildings. The city’s big cultural background can be found all around town, and you can reach everything on foot. And there’s a lively nightlife scene too. Compared to other cities, Antwerp feels to me like a small community in a big city context.

What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?

Antwerp is Belgium’s fashion and art capital, attracting many students from around the globe to study at our Academy. This turns our city into an open-minded, multicultural and cooperative one.

Antwerp feels to me like a small community in a big city context.

How would you say Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

Before starting Native, I worked in other restaurants around town. This is where I discovered my passion for food, where I learned the trade. It shaped me because it forms the basis of what I currently know. Back in 2013 when we started out, Antwerp didn’t count many organic restaurants. We had the urge to do something about this, and now we see it’s a fast growing trend. We hope it’s going to stay that way for a long time.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?

More green, more biking trails. Some parts of Antwerp do need a serious infrastructural change.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?

Because the city is so diverse, it’s easiest just to wander around and discover places as you go along. You do need to know some popular neighbourhoods such as het Mechelseplein and de Marnixplaats. Outside the city centre, there’s the Dageraadplaats, Drakenplaats and Krugerplein. And as for the place that symbolises the city, for me this could only be the waterfront, ideally watching the sunset with a beer and some friends.
Photography Thomas Ost