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.

Elisabeth Mestdagh

Elisabeth Mestdagh

Graphic designer

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’m currently doing an internship at Baron&Baron in New York, but I still have my home base in Antwerp working freelance for friends and clients on the side. Obviously my weekdays are fully spent at Baron&Baron, where I’m blessed to have the opportunity to work with some amazing people on exciting projects.

How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it?

After having lived in Berlin, New York and Ghent, I can state without a doubt that despite its small size, Antwerp is incredibly proud of its people and their talents.

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

Speaking for my line of work, I feel like the city’s fashion academy keeps the balance between Antwerp’s history and its present. But the influence of the Academy of Fine Arts shouldn’t be underestimated either, as the school brings quite an international and young crowd to our little city. While polished and chic at times, both these schools manage to bring flair to the city that’s more rough around the edges.

Unsurprisingly, I’d love to see more green, and more projects such as Park Spoor Noord, which are of immense added value to the city.

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

I was raised with quite a substantial cultural baggage. Both my parents are graphic designers, with my mother and brother being heavily involved in fashion. We’re lucky to be based in a city with a fashion history that’s as rich as Antwerp’s – the Antwerp Six and Raf Simons are the first examples that come to mind, but there are tons of prolific young designers shaping the city in their own ways. My own design practice evolved when I got in touch with some of the Antwerp Academy students, who helped build my portfolio. I of course also have to thank the many great teacher at Sint-Lucas Ghent who’ve taught me all there is to know about graphic design.

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

Unsurprisingly, I’d love to see more green, and more projects such as Park Spoor Noord, which are of immense added value to the city.

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?

Breakfast at Kafee Nini is a must, as is a visit to MoMu fashion museum. Afterwards a visit to Copyright bookshop next door is indispensible, and the distance to Dries Van Noten’s boutique and its beautiful window displays is less than two minutes away. Le John or Graanmarkt 13 would be the next stop for dinner, and nighttime just asks for a drink at Apropos on the lively Mechelseplein.
Interview Laurent James
Photography Miles Fischler