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.

Ilse Cornelissens

Ilse Cornelissens

Co-owner, Graanmarkt 13

Can you describe what you do?

Tim [van Geloven] and I founded Graanmarkt 13, a house where each and every floor tells a different story. Overall, we host a restaurant, a store and a residential apartment. We used to live in the apartment of Graanmarkt 13, but we’ve left since to make it part of our concept and let other people enjoy this architectural masterpiece by Vincent van Duysen. Graanmarkt 13 is in the middle of the centre of Antwerp, between all its theatres. Now we live just five minutes from there. We love living in the city centre – it emanates good and vibrant vibes. Alternatively, we like to leave the city and enjoy weekends at the sea (a mere hour drive from Antwerp). Luckily we don’t have a daily routine, since we run several businesses. Our routine goes from making breakfast for our clients in the apartment, travelling to buy what we need for our store, discussions with our resident chef, meetings for our web-shop, manning the store, taking care of administration, and so much more. Throughout the day our conversations switch from topics such as food, design, fashion, beauty, and hospitality. There is never a dull moment, and Tim and I take it upon ourselves to rethink Graanmarkt 13 all the time. Standing still is going backwards. We are not really interested in being part of a certain scene – it’s great to run a business in different field as you get the chance to meet so many interesting people in many different scenes. That’s what makes our lives super vibrant.

How do you perceive Antwerp?

Antwerp is a small, underestimated town: so much to offer, and in such a great location (London, Paris, Amsterdam are all just two hours away if you feel like visiting a bigger city). The city is not finished yet and there is so much growth potential, therefore making it very interesting for entrepreneurs. The quality of life in Antwerp is great. People can live spaciously for a good price, especially compared to other cities. We appreciate the Belgian/Antwerp hunger for quality. In all fields of this approach to life, quality is very important. Antwerp is also the birthplace for many internationally acclaimed artists, architects, designers and other creatives. To name a few we have Luc Tuymans, Vincent van Duysen, Axel Vervoordt, the Antwerp Six and so on.

What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives?

The city is cheap compared to others and therefore I think it attracts a lot of creatives. To this day, the Academy of Arts and the Fashion Academy still attract many creatives.

Antwerp taught us the true meaning of style. Quality is what Antwerp stands for – something I learnt thanks to this city and its people.

How would you say Antwerp has contributed to making you who you are today?

Before coming to Antwerp we used to live in Amsterdam, and we can say that Antwerp taught us the true meaning of style. Quality is what Antwerp stands for – something I learned thanks to this city and its people.

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

More greenery. Urban development should concentrate more on parks in Antwerp. Park Spoor Noord is a good example of how a new park can be perceived to be a big success for the city. It brings people both together and outside! Definitely something that is in short supply.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? How would you guide tourists around?

Just a walk through the city, heading from north to south is lovely. You can see the complete town by walking around for two days. There aren’t that many cities in the world where you can see everything by foot. Otherwise, a walk along the Schelde river, ending at the MAS museum, is one of my favourites.
Photography Joke De Wilde