MARCH 21, 2016

A D.A.T.E. in Antwerp


"In a networked world, it’s the people that make a city unique, different and intriguing," writes Oonagh Murphy on It's Nice That. Together with 11 creatives from around Europe and the US, we were invited by the city of Antwerp to investigate how creative entrepreneurs shape the city and the city shapes them. In a four-day boot camp, we discovered the city, its creative scene and met what were considered to be our local counterparts. Oonagh's thoughts about D.A.T.E. (Discover Antwerp Through Experience) resonate with me; the people we met shaped my experience of Antwerp and have made a lasting impression. 

I spent hours at Kastaar, a space the founders, An Eisendraht and Stoffel Van Den Bergh, have transformed into a Walhalla for old printing machines in the vibrant neighborhood of Zurenborg. On our architecture tour of the city, a few of us jumped off our bikes to sample fresh bread at Bakker Aldo, the fruits of labor of baker Aldo Neri. During the D.A.T.E. Lab conference on our last evening, Antwerp-native Rizon Parein shared honest anecdotes of his rise to fame, all the while staying true to himself and to his roots.

In between the museum exhibitions, studio visits, and bicycle tours, we had coffee at new-to-the-city concept store st. vincents, founded by creative duo Henri Delbarre and Geraldine Jackman. Fellow Antwerp 13 Marta Vargas and I spent an afternoon with Parisian-born Nathalie Wolberg and the Texan-native Tim Stokes in their renovated workspace in the center of Antwerp, PARIS TEXAS, discussing how much the city of Antwerp has changed their work. We had the most memorable dinner cooked by chef Benjamin Somers at Native, a former pop-up restaurant turned Antwerp staple that embraces organic, honest and seasonal meals.

The four-day boot camp was organized by This Is Antwerp from March 14 to 17, 2016. A special thank you to Mark Vekemans, Rick Seniow, Marie Lemaître and Astrid De Graef for organizing this incredible week. And of course, I can't forget the Antwerp 13 - you all made this trip one to never forget! Read more about D.A.T.E. on the This Is Antwerp blog, browse the photos on Facebook, and check out our photos on Instagram using #theantwerp13.