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 am a Graphic Designer and, for about a year now, have also been a florist. Don’t know how I got here, but I did and I love it. I do graphic design mostly for furniture brands and magazines. As a florist, I run Bloe Monday together with my friend Joni Vandewalle. We deliver hand-made floral bouquets to people’s doorsteps and decorate events and weddings. I am based in Borgerhout, between central station and “Seefhoek”, and I’m happy to say my working life doesn’t have a strict routine. I happily work with creatives from all disciplines from the Atelier DOP co-working space. I didn’t realise I was part of a scene until someone asked me if I could name someone in my close circle of friends who isn’t doing anything creative. It took me five minutes to think of one.
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?
I was born in Limburg, came to Antwerp for my studies and stayed around. I remember as a kid I used to visit my auntie, who studied in Antwerp as well. She used to take me to the zoo. I think it was back then that I decided that this city was going to be my home. To me Antwerp is where I can be myself, do my own thing, and have people encouraging me. Some compare Antwerp to Berlin, and I kind of agree. Despite being considerably smaller, I feel like Antwerp has the same vibe to it. Sitting by the water in summertime, have some tapas with friends, going to a party afterwards. It’s all very Berlin…
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
Simply because it’s a city that can fill the needs of any creative. Amongst which many students.
I know most people have a love-hate relationship with the Mechelseplein, but if we’re honest, we all love it.
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?
Antwerp did a lot for me, nearly everything I have to say. Everything started here, whether good or bad. I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be before I came here, and while these perspectives have changed, the city, the people and my friends have all helped and supported me along the way. I don’t think this could’ve happened in another city.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
More parties where they play singalong music. Maybe they exist and my friends just aren’t too into them. Maybe it’s the nostalgic in me. I can enjoy a good hip-hop party or sometimes an electro party. But I have way more fun when an oldie or a classic-nostalgia songs hits the tables. And oh, a bar where they serve a large variety of pancakes.
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?
Dinner at Brutal is non-negotiable. It’s one of my favourite restaurants of all time. And the owner was just born to do what he does. The Zaterdagmarkt is a good place to enjoy some Moroccan pancakes. And you can buy some cheese over there to make a mean mac ‘n cheese later on in the evening. While you’re at it, you should also get some flowers. Evenings are best spent on the Mechelseplein. I know most people have a love-hate relationship with this square, but if we’re honest, we all love it.
A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth?
I think that’ll be Louise Mertens, one of my best friends, who recently hit the news with her work in Graphic Design and Art Direction. And the owner of restaurant Brutal, and Maria of “Frituur n1”, who never let’s me down.nancyreijnders.com Photography Miles Fischler