I am completely enraptured by the concept of a live/work space. I’ve always been drawn to commercial spaces and that leads me to incorporate some cross-over aspects into my residential concepts. This probably stems in part from my earliest influences in home decor: my father worked in every aspect of a large construction company and I toured a huge amount of model homes. Things in the models struck me as ideal and designed (but also sometimes contrived and false – being a young kid and seeing waxy fake fruit in the kitchen or trying to pick up a toy that is actually glued to a nightstand, and always being warned not to use the restrooms- it’s very confusing.) Nevertheless I liked the idea that everything would be thought out prior to moving in a load of junk and throwing it everywhere, which is what everyone I ever knew always did, so did this ideal world actually exist anywhere?
Well when I grew up and started working, I found that I liked how everything in a workplace has to stay orderly. Everything in a commercial space is thought out prior in terms of usability and storage; everything has a place. Usually at home, we should be so lucky. I love how everything is like clockwork in a hotel or a retail shop. Cleaning, organizing, eating- everything happens on a schedule. If you haven’t guessed it, maybe it’s just my Virgo nature pushing for structure. But ample storage, well-designed work spaces and sleek, open kitchens with butcher block-topped counters aren’t mere aesthetic luxuries- I opine that a well-designed space reduces stress and improves multiple aspects of everyday living. Someday perhaps I will have something of the sort. Everyone who has listened to me ramble for any reasonable length of time has no doubt heard one of my “latest” dreams- I’ve entertained the ideas just in the past five years (albeit short-lived, each of them) of opening a healthy fast-food restaurant, an art gallery/coffee shop, an event planning and styling business, of going to grad school for industrial design or architecture, or embarking on an earnest journey to produce any of my hair-brained invention ideas, or flip houses, among countless others. Oh yes, and the non-profit concept which would help channel money from businesses to charities and worthy causes. Oh and, these ones are still deep and dormant in my heart of hearts: 1) find old furniture that needs a little love in the form of new stain and upholstery and sell it in an etsy shop on via the blog, and eventually 2) design a boutique hotel- a retreat complete with spa and cafe which I would renovate from an old building.
I wish I could nail down a single passion, but I just have too many. For that reason as well this featured space speaks to me. Living amidst art, design, fashion and cuisine is a dream that people live every day. For me it it still a dream, but little by little, I’m making strides. Even if that does translate to a butcher block cutting board. Onward!
In the same vein as my multi-tasking fantasy, Graanmarkt 13 is an utterly unique combination of residence and retail space which opened earlier this year in Antwerp, Belgium. The proprietors, Ilse Cornelissens and Tim Van Geloven, live on the top floor. The lower floors comprise the store which is furnished (read merchandised) with cherry-picked furnishings, fashion, jewelry, and objets d’art. Project architect Vincent Van Duysen opted for open but cozy spaces rather than grand architecture aiming to continue the accessible, home-like atmosphere. Ilse explains, “Our home, in a way, is open to everyone.”
Residence and retail further combine with a gallery space and a restaurant headed by Chef Seppe Nobels. Graanmarkt 13′s art director Bob Verhelst explains of the unorthodox program, “It’s clear we want to do it our way, not the fashion-system way as we know it today.” Custom fixtures by PSLAB light the spaces with a modern, industrial touch.
When it came to the graphics, typography and package design, the Base Design team in Brussels was chosen to create the look. They presented a fresh “anti-brand” scheme using the refined yet bold, distinctive fonts Modern n° 20 and Gotham Bold. Save for the storefront, the address that doubles as the name is never presented without an accompanying phrase, as evidenced in these clean and simple pages, awaiting a full site design.
The whole scope is just a wonderful concept, beautifully expressed. I think I need to investigate further, perhaps in person.