Can you describe what you do?
Bart Kiggen and I both run studio Coffeeklatch, a blog and a business specialised in design, copywriting and photography.
Where you are based, which neighbourhood do you live in?
We are based in the North of Antwerp, known as the most unpopular part of town due to its edginess and cultural density. We like its international vibe and community feeling. Here, you can be whoever you want to be. We’ve been living here for five years now, and soon we’ll be moving down the block to set up a bigger studio and home. The North is our hood and we love it here. For us, there’s no need to go elsewhere.
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 worldly village, a humanised metropolis with a high quality of life. It has a pretty high score for those who value cultural diversity, with lots of museum, history, festivals, contemporary art, music and fashion. The world is right here at our doorstep.
I’d love to see more people of colour in museums, universities, banks, police forces and other official institutions. After 35 years of living in Antwerp, I still find myself being the only coloured person in the room way too often and that has to stop.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
Its small scale and autonomy. It’s impossible to define its inhabitants as one defined group. In Antwerp, you can do your own thing and there’s enough space for everyone.
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?
In Antwerp, you are free to think freely and carve your own paths in life without too many distractions. If you need extra impulses, other European capitals are just a stone’s throw away. And we fell in love with each other here in the city.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
More people of colour in museums, universities, banks, police forces and other official institutions. After 35 years of living in Antwerp, I still find myself being the only coloured person in the room way too often and that has to stop. We would also urge for more parks and trees in the streets. In the summer, Antwerp turns unhealthy, grayish and smoggy. That’s the only time we feel like escaping it.
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?
Explore the city on foot or by bike. Book an Airbnb and ask your host for his or her favourite hangouts. Head down to the historical center and browse around the cathedral. Then head down to the Scheldt and watch the sunset.coffeeklatch.be Photography Thomas Ost