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.
A full-blood Antwerpian, I was born and raised in the neighbourhood around ‘het Museum’, a part of the city also known as ‘het Zuid’. Professionally, I have always chosen the path that stimulates both my heart and my mind. As an independent worker, this has lead me to projects in renewable energy, coaching, executive management and, most recently, to the creation of Chestnote. Chestnote is a company based around a free mobile application that makes messages matter again. By giving you the gift of time and mystery, Chestnote allows you to create messages that your friends truly look forward to. I’m incredibly lucky to be based, together with my business partner and team, in the KBC tower (den Boerentoren) near the Meir. Each morning I get to go on a lovely commute, a beautiful bike ride which takes me through the pittoresk Kloosterstraat, passed my favourite basketball court (het Tunnelleke) and finishes at the touristic centre of the city, the Groenplaats. My daily routine consists of taking an early walk with my dog around the Museum (Museum van Schone Kunsten), having breakfast with my wife, a bike ride to work, working hard with our Chestnote team, and playing basketball three evenings per the week.
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 Home. Simple as that. For me, it’s a city with many hidden culinary and artistic gems. It’s people are worldly, it’s culture richer than initially meets the eye, it’s vibe young, comforting and warm.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
Honestly, Antwerp has a lot going for it. A beautiful location next to the Scheldt River, mysterious titles such as Diamond City, Chocolate City, Fashion City,… and of course the advantage of being a city that is overrun by many energetic university students for most of the year. A wonderful cocktail of history, youth, and inspiration. What’s not to love?
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?
The city of Antwerp was the perfect host. It helped my athletic career with its many basketball courts, it helped my artistic career by allowing me to attend the best academies, it helped my professional career by housing many great companies, schools and a university I was privileged to attend. Today, the international character of Antwerp’s population, businesses and venues is the perfect source for growing our company and enriching our culture.
It’s a city with many hidden culinary and artistic gems.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
More art in our streets! More artful graffiti, commissioned wall paintings and installations. Antwerp houses so much talent, let’s show it off and make our city even more beautiful.
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?
Grab a coat, and take a long long walk through the city, be surprised at every turn. One place that symbolises the city? For me, this has to be the walking bridge that starts at Het Steen, next to the Scheldt River. A great view of the river, the economic and spiritual heart of the city.
A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth?
My favourites: The myth of Druon Antigoon, Brabo and De Zeven Schaken, and the beautiful story of Nello & Patrasche.chestnote.com Photography Joke De Wilde