Can you describe what you do?
We are Studio Collect, a collective of four jewellery designers (Magaly, Hannah, Saskia and Hermien) that’s based in Antwerp. Next to our yearly collection, we also design wedding bands and custom made pieces. Currently we’re working on a series of engagement rings. Our studio is based in Borgerhout, in the suburbs of Antwerp. The four of us met at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and come from different places in Belgium. Our daily routine varies every day, depending on our schedule. Mostly we meet up in our studio in the morning to discuss what has to be done that day, to then continue working on our designs or on other productions. But sometimes we travel and look for new shops to represent Studio Collect. Or we visit suppliers to check up with them and figure out some technical aspects to our latest designs. Luckily many of the companies we work with are in, or at least close to, Antwerp. The city is well known for its diamond trading and hosts many stores specialised for jewellers, which is obviously very convenient for our business.
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?
Because we went to an art school and met many of our friends there, most of our peers work in a creative atmosphere in one way or another. And even though us artists can easily be associated with a nonchalant lifestyle, in reality we’re relatively disciplined and hard working. Many of us founded our own companies and work hard to make it happen. We inspire each other and like to stay up to date about who is working on what.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
Most of its citizens would call Antwerp a small city, a village where every one knows everyone. Which sometimes also has its downsides, because you see the same faces very often. Despite its small size, it’s a city that houses a lot of creative minds. Every week there are private views in galleries or artists open up their studios for exhibitions and events. There’s an ambitious vibe, where people want to start something and want try new things. Because of its small size, you can get to places pretty fast by bicycle. It feels like home to us, even though we weren’t all born and raised here, except for Hannah and Saskia. Hermien comes from a small village in West Flanders and Magaly comes from Brussels. After studying here they kind of sticked around and we founded Studio Collect after graduating.
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?
For us, it was not really the city that made us into what we are today, but the people in the city. We have influenced each other and have educated each other into who we are today. But it was Antwerp and the Academy that brought us together.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
The city has so much to offer, we feel like we’re not really missing anything except for a rooftop bar with a pool – that would be the icing on the cake.
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?
First we would start the day by having breakfast at Otark Breakfast club in Het Bos and then take a walk or cycle around in the city. Visiting Antwerp by bike is an easy way to discover the city and get some quick impressions of what the city has to offer. If you’re interested in fashion, you should go to MoMu, the fashion museum. The exhibitions are usually very nicely curated and it gives us tons of inspiration. Pass by a flea market and go home with some cool treasures. A nice food market is MARTA where you can find organic and biological products sold by farmers or local producers. Go there for vegetables, flour, bread, wine, meat, fish… On weekdays we often go to September for lunch or coffee, it’s such a cosy place run by lovely people and it’s right around the corner from our studio. For dinner we would recommend Staf’s Kantine, good food and good wine, in a cosy interior in the south of Antwerp.studiocollect.com Photography Joke De Wilde