Travel with Serif

Beauty with a beating heart

Flair, fashion and design on the cobbled streets of Antwerp

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Self-confident yet unassuming, brutal yet beautiful – Antwerp is the Flanders city with that rare quality in Belgium: quirkiness.

Laden with enough medieval frivolity to create a spectacle while retaining a grounded, gritty industrial edge, Antwerp is a city with many faces. It’s longstanding role as the world’s diamond centre gave rise to fashion’s favourite sons, the Antwerp Six (which includes household names like Dries Van Noten and Raf Simons) and the iconic Flemish painter, Pieter Paul Rubens. But beyond its well-publicised façade of high fashion and Baroque art, is a modern Antwerp with a penchant for understated art and design that sets it apart from living-museum Bruges and pen-pushing Brussels.

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Axel Vervoordt and Vincent Van Duysen, both masters of subtlety and elegance, champion this thriving scene. In the muted tones of their architecture and interiors, and the perfect blend of old and new in their art and furnishings, you can detect the aesthetic restraint and respect for both history and innovation that characterises a version of Antwerp we love most.

Nothing embodies this sensibility more than Van Duysen’s Graanmarkt 13 – a restaurant, concept store, and luxury apartment located on a picturesque cobbled square in the middle of the city. Outside, its pristine whitewashed neoclassical facade is an ode to contemporary understated Belgian style. Inside, the poured concrete stairwell and subdued neutral tones stretch over four floors, each adding a layer to the narrative penned by the master architect.

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Dine and drink in the award-winning basement restaurant and bar; stock up on covetable clothing and homeware on the ground floor concept store; or unwind for the weekend in the enviable loft apartment – relax, and truly immerse yourself in the Graanmarkt 13 lifestyle experience.

Once adequately inspired, stroll the short distance West to St. Vincents – a concept store in the truest sense. Unfinished brick walls highlight the clean modern cuts of hanging couture while everything from from speciality coffee and tea, to homeware and contemporary art, flood the lofty, brightly lit space.

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Moreover, the Copyright Bookshop, a world-renowned curation of art, fashion, and design literature, is the perfect way to round off a well cultured weekend. Here simplicity prevails to avoid diverting your attention from where it should rightfully be – on the piles of artfully arranged tomes.

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Antwerp is a city that’s happening. A vibrant commercial hub that doesn’t just trade on its illustrious heritage, but builds on it.

Cereal Magazine’s Editor Rosa Parks interviews the owners of Graanmarkt13 about how the apartment-cum-concept store began life as their family home.

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