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 the creator of Faber Makerspace, a creative co-working space, where I help companies and students with their prototypes by offering them amenities such as 3D printers and laser cutters. It’s even possible to produce products on a small scale here. My main intention for the space is to have people with different backgrounds and different talents come together, hoping they’ll be able to inspire and learn from each other. At Faber, we have good contacts with the people of the Post-Couture Collective. They make laser-cut patterns, and use them for fashion, instead of wood like most people would do with a machine like this. You can order their clothes like you would a DIY pack, and puzzle the different pieces of fabric together yourself. I don’t want old crafts to be lost, but I think it’s amazing when they can come together with these new techniques that we offer at Faber Makerspace. It gives me a lot of energy to help people create.
How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe?
I’m actually a small-town girl, but I find a bit of a village mentality even in this big city. Places like the Vlaeykensgang, which I just recently discovered, or the Saint-Paul church, are like tiny retreats right here in the bustling centre. I love the creativity that Antwerp exudes. Just look at Faber’s neighbourhood: we’re surrounded by art schools, studios like Pinkeye and buildings that breathe craftsmanship. Creative organisations easily find their way here. But I must say that in terms of fab labs and makerspaces there are still a lot of possibilities left open.
How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?
When moving away from Tienen, my hometown, it was either Antwerp or Brussels. I already spent five years in our capital studying interior design, and thought the city to be more anonymous than Antwerp. And while I might have left my heart in Brussels, Antwerp just seemed like the more approachable option. I also wanted something completely new, which is exactly what I got here. Everything is in walking distance, which is very new to me. Living in a small village I always had to drive at least 40 minutes to get to work. Now I can just take my bike and be there in less then 15 minutes which gives me a much welcomed sense of freedom.
I don’t ever consider other co-working spots as competition, I love it when we can put our heads together and all offer something unique.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
The appeal of Antwerp has to be seen through its history. The Antwerp Six marked the start of a booming period. There are also so many different pop-ups, in summer and winter, or festivals like De Invasie (DIVA). People come to Antwerp from all over the world, just for events like that. Antwerp also takes really good care of young starters. The city is really betting on young entrepreneurs, providing them with opportunities to find their way. Another thing I love about Antwerp’s creative scene are all the co-working spots that are popping up, like Gezeever or Kastaar, that take you back to the old craftsmanship. Creative people get excited by such things. I should add that I don’t ever consider other co-working spots as competition, I love it when we can put our heads together and all offer something unique. Because if someone comes here and wants to do something amazing with wood or metal, I know the exact spot I can refer them to if I can’t help them out myself.
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?
There was this gap here that needed to be filled, a gap that, up to now, has been my entire career path. I actually don’t really understand how something similar to Faber Makerspace didn’t already exist, but I’m happy that it didn’t so that I could completely go for it, with the help of Pinkeye designstudio.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
I honestly don’t understand how there is such a big Velo network (Antwerp’s public bike service) yet not a single proper bike lane.
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp?
I’ve been living in Borgerhout for a year now, but I haven’t really had the time yet to discover Antwerp. I’ve been so focused on launching Faber Makerspace that I just haven’t found the time to go out and explore. There’s still so much to see, to know and to discover for me. So I would say the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp is with a good guide. But you could just as easily go out and discover the city by yourself. Just walking out of central station you’re surrounded by amazing restaurants and the most elaborate cluster of coffee bars. On my days off I always try out a new place for breakfast, or in my case brunch, to discover Antwerp in this way.
If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?
In summer I’d always take people to Park Spoor Noord or Boekenbergpark. At Park Spoor Noord, all kinds of people from all kinds of nationalities come together while barbecueing, or at the parties hosted in Cargo. It’s maybe getting a little bit too crowded nowadays, because everybody seems to have discovered these little gems, but I still love going there. Idyllic places like this aren’t something every city has to offer.
A local legend, neighborhood anecdote or urban myth?
I recently delved into the history of the building where Faber Makerspace and Pinkeye are is based. The entrance on top of the building reads ‘Entrepot de la Cloche,’ or ‘warehouse for clocks’. Apparently the building used to house a brewery that made its own liquor. Parts of the original building were preserved, like an old authentic gate. Knowing that this has always been a place for craftsmanship means something to me and gives what I do here that extra special touch. Every building in Antwerp, and especially in this neighbourhood, radiates something special and I love looking for that. Even though it doesn’t have anything to do with what happens in those buildings today, it’s amazing to know what was once there. I still need to do some more research, to get the full story on ‘l’Entrepot de la Cloche’.fabermakerspace.com Interview Hanne Van Looveren Photography Miles Fischler