Discover Benelux, Issue 28, April 2016

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I S S U E 28 | A P R I L 2016










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Discover Benelux | Contents

Contents APRIL 2016




Jaco Van Dormael

12 Golfing Glory in Belgium

His latest film, The Brand New Testament, gained international appraisal and even a Golden Globe nomination. We spoke to the eccentric director about the film’s success.

With stunning greens all over the country, Belgium is an excellent destination for both veterans and novices to get the most out of this fantastic sport.



16 Top Belgian Interiors

52 Rotterdam’s Floating Farm Applying the latest technologies, Rotterdam is currently constructing a floating dairy farm. We found out how this could be a first step in solving the issue of global food shortages.

From furniture stores to interior architects and design advisors, this special theme gives you an in-depth look into the Belgian companies behind some striking and inspiring interiors.

36 Explore the North of


Pub and Restaurant of the

Month, Luxembourg

the Netherlands Largely overlooked, Friesland is a spectacular province with beautiful, water-rich surroundings, a fascinating cultural heritage, and some of the country’s most charming cities. PLUS: Groningen Guide, from page 42


46 A Taste of the Benelux From a museum dedicated to Belgian frites, to several gastronomic gems in the rest of the Benelux: here are our top picks for a fabulous, culinary night out.



Children’s Universe Celebrating the needs, wishes and aspiration of the little ones, this mini special features a top school in Brussels and a shop that makes the lives of new parents a little easier.

An English-inspired pub in the heart the Grand Duchy, and a kebab lounge that defies the food’s stereotype; these are two unmissable addresses in Luxembourg.

BUSINESS 50 Company profiles, regulars and more Wallonia is working hard to put its cities in the limelight including the historic town of Braine-L’Alleud. Our columnists are discussing Brexit and question the stories behind location-inspired surnames. PLUS: Business calendar, page 55

DON’T MISS 6 Fashion Picks | 8 Desirable Designs 62 Out & About | 54 Columns

Issue 28 | April 2016 | 3

Discover Benelux | Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 28, April 2016 Published 04.2016 ISSN 2397-8872 Published by Scan Group Print Liquid Graphic Ltd Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Peterson Editor Myriam Gwynned Dijck Copy-editor Isa Hemphrey Graphic Designer Lauren Glading Contributors Berthe van den Hurk Caroline D’hont Cathy van Klaveren Ella Put Emmie Collinge Janine Sterenborg Josiah Fisk Lidija Liegis

Nane Steinhoff Martin Pilkington Matt Antoniak Mirjam van Biemen Paola Westbeek Rosanne Roobeek Rupert Parker Sonja Irani Steve Flinders Stuart Forster Cover Photo Chantal Thomine Desmazures / Metrodome Group Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Kirsten Schoon Katia Sfihi Sophie Blecha Veerle Barten Marian Elmi Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3YT United Kingdom

However, this adventure has now come to an end. I am very glad that I could do this with a fantastic special on the north of the Netherlands this issue (from page 36). While it is not as popular as the major cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam, I cannot recommend it enough to visitors because Groningen (my home town) is well worth a visit. And as the country is so small, it is only a two-hour drive from Schiphol anyway. Before I leave, I just wanted to say thank you to Julie Lindén. Dedicated contributor to all of Scan Group’s publications, she was the one to get me on board all those months ago. Apart from her, I have formed many professional connections and even close friendships with the people I have met during my time here. For that I am forever grateful, you know who you are. Finally, I just wanted to wish good luck to my successor. There is still such much in the Benelux that is left to be uncovered, and I hope the magazine will continue to present to you the best places to visit, most stunning sights to see and exciting things to do. So let this magazine inspire you, at is has done to me, to explore this magnificent area on the planet to the max.

Phone: +44 (0)870 933 0423 Fax: +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email:

Myriam Gwynned Dijck, Editor

We are a media you can trust. The print circulation of Discover Benelux is audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), which is the UK body for media measurement.

© All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

4 | Issue 28 | April 2016

A year and a half ago I started a crazy adventure, I became the editor of Discover Benelux. While doing this work, I have learned more about Luxembourg, Belgium and also my own country, the Netherlands, as never before. It has even made me become one of those annoying people, who cannot stop talking about their work in the pub, and all the fascinating things going on in the Benelux region.

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Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks


A comic story From Tintin to Bob et Bobette and De Kiekeboes, Belgium is famous for its comic books. This season, comic badges and cartoons are all over the runway. This makes it the perfect trend, and excuse, to turn your life into a comic book adventure. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PRESS PHOTOS

1. Pyjama Party! The good thing about pyjamas is that they are not limited to one season and with their timeless design, they can be a great investment. Every time you buy pyjamas by Maison Marcy, famous for its colourful and happy designs, it will certainly be a very happy and cheerful purchase. €289

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2. Old-school cool Remember Marty’s shoes in Back to the Future? They might be a little bit old school, but with a huge revival of the ’90s, this is suddenly becoming cool again. And so are these sneakers; with their low top and a beautiful cutout white colour. Made of grain leather, this pair will take you further than the future. €299

5. Flower power Spring is about to start and so is a wonderful season filled with longer days, a brighter sun and beautiful flowers. Invest in dreams, colours and in a good night’s sleep. These three things all combined are exactly what Maison Marcy is all about. €299

3. Essential Alice Where would we be without Alice? The little curious girl who went on a journey in Wonderland and became a style icon for Belgian brand Essentiel Antwerp. With this stylish shopper, including a removable bag, Alice will take you on a stylish and wellorganised adventure in our own land of wonders. €165

4. Badgejistic Remember those badges you would sew on to your clothes to cover up holes in your trousers or shirts? Well, there is good news: badges are back. And now they are not only to cover up holes, they are a fashion statement and, most of all, a true nostalgic memory. This T-shirt, with its easy-to-combine grey colour, is the best badge basic a girl can dream of. €22 Issue 28 | April 2016 | 7

Discover Benelux | Design | Desirable Designs


Relax, take it easy For some it is part of their lifestyle, for others it is the biggest challenge of their lives: taking time to relax. Whatever camp you are in, we all need to take it easy from time to time. And with these designs from the Benelux, relaxing will just go a little bit smoother. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PRESS PHOTOS

2. Outdoor relaxation Spring is the time to head outdoors and get cosy and comfortable in the sunshine. Belgian brand Manutti, known for their innovative outdoor furniture, recently launched the Kumo collection. Meaning ‘cloud’ in Japanese, the collection allows you to create your own designs with their multi-shaped couches in different colours. Price on request



1. The evolution bathtub The inspiration for this bathtub came from the shape of a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing chair. A mission well accomplished. This tub is the perfect mix between a chair and a bath, and the perfect piece of furniture for your ultimate Zen moment. €15,125


3. Slumber Plaid This might look like your everyday plaid but it is not. On the contrary, made with three-dimensional elastic fabric, this blanket is chic, incredibly comfortable as well as highly flexible. Available in four colours, this plaid is worth every penny. €480

4. Couch Potato After a long day of hard work there is nothing better than taking a nap on the couch. With this pillow you will enjoy a wonderful afternoon power nap to the fullest while simultaneously honouring your inner couch potato. €15

5. Mirror, mirror Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? For some, a little vanity time can also be a moment to relax. Luxembourg-based designer Tine Krumhorn is making the most of mirrors, screens and lamps inspired by baroque and theatrical design, including this beautiful flamboyant mirror. Price on request 8 | Issue 28 | April 2016



Celebrating the little ones In this mini theme we will highlight businesses that focus on bringing out the best in your children. First of all, we have a feature on Hebeco, a baby products reseller that specialises in providing specialist shops with the best clothes, toys and accessories for the little ones. Secondly, we have a special profile on Brussels International Catholic School, where we present an overview of their curriculum and talent development. To introduce this theme properly, we have asked the experts at Tilt to tell us more about their organisation and what they do for children. TEXT & PHOTOS: TILT

Tilt, based in Wallonia, is a cultural space initiated by the non-profit association Odyssea. Tilt stands for Terrain Interactif Ludique pour Tous, French for ‘playful and interactive space for all’. The association is composed of young people that serve the project, either as volunteers or as employees. What they all have in common is the drive to change attitudes, beliefs and to open up the minds of children, young people and the accompanying adults. During a day’s journey, visitors will have the opportunity to go around our imaginary world, to meet other cultures, to instil

the public to an awareness of differences, but also similarities, between the men and women of the world, all set perfectly in peace without moral judgements and without the mindset that we have ‘the answer’. The key words of our activities are: creativity, citizenship, curiosity and diversity. Tilt proposes that visitors develop their inquisitive skills, their critical thinking and we hope to awaken young people and children to the richness of the world that surrounds us. Tilt does this through workshops, visits to school and families, adult training, animation and formation.

For more detailed information, feel free to visit our website. And if you want to open a Cultural Awakening Centre somewhere in the world, the team at Tilt would love to see the creation of another location – a place where we could exchange and share our respective experiences. We are always keen to hear from people, so do contact us. Our team is composed of curious and enthusiastic people who are very willing to see Tilt extend its activities and share its values with more and more people. Issue 28 | April 2016 | 9

Discover Benelux | Children’s Universe | Celebrating the Little Ones


A gorgeous, multifunctional playpen hammock, a nifty and fashionable care bag or a whale-shaped pushbike: Hebeco is always on the hunt for new and unique brands that fit your and your baby’s needs. Belgium-based company Hebeco distributes a full range of baby products such as prams, bathing products, toys, entire room decorations and more, all from high-quality brands. Owners and siblings Anthony and Caroline Van der Heyden carefully selected gorgeous items that will awaken the child in you. “We’re always looking for attractive and innovative products with a playful touch, that meet the demands of modern parents,” Anthony explains. Take a look at the Bontoy for instance: a cute and colourful whale-shaped push10 | Issue 28 | April 2016

bike. And it is practical too: “Its silent rubber wheels keep your floor scratch free, they’re outdoor proof and the bike is adjustable in height, making one single Bontoy suitable for kids from one to six years old.” There’s more to the durability of this design: part of Bontoy’s profit is donated to a foundation that is committed to preventing whale killings. Anthony: “A cause we’re happy to support.” The newest addition to Hebeco’s selection is another eye catcher: Hangloose Baby, a stylish and multifunctional playpen hammock. “This beautiful idea was created by five dads from The Hague,” Anthony explains. “The hammock is easy to attach to the playpen and can be used as a rug too. And when your baby is ready to crawl, it is a perfect play mat. With origami-like techniques, you can fold it into a cosy, tiny nest.”

Indispensable products like strollers, care bags and prams can be a source of frustration, but not the ones Hebeco distributes: Italian brand Peg Perego creates lightweight strollers with manoeuvrable wheels, and you can easily turn the carriage into a buggy when your baby grows up. The brand Skip Hop offers smart and trendy care bags, as well as a wide range of stylish and playful toys, mats and more. And last but definitely not least, Hebeco is an agent of Paidi: baby rooms that effortlessly transform and become timeless, yet hyper-modern kids’ rooms. So whether you or your baby wants to sit, sleep or play: Hebeco offers a wide range of useful and durable solutions.

Discover Benelux | Children’s Universe | Celebrating the Little Ones


Brussels International Catholic School (BICS) is a unique independent international school: it offers a wholly bi-lingual English and French curriculum for pupils aged two and a half to 18. According to headmaster Canon William Hudson, what distinguishes BICS is its dual-language education, Christian values, and caring environment. Children are encouraged to fulfil their unique potential to a maximum. Pupils typically focus on reading and writing in French in the last year of the pre-primary section (age five to six), whilst continuing with spoken English. Those who complete the primary school will be bilingual by the end of the sixth year. Teaching is split equally between English and French, allowing for immersion in both languages. Specialist teachers support children with limited English or French. The secondary school offers the International GCSE and A-level curriculum. BICS

is recognised as a test centre of the University of Cambridge International Examinations, and a full member of the European Council of International Schools. Classes average a maximum of 25 students, but are usually smaller, particularly at secondary level with around five to 15 pupils per class at A-level. A wide range of courses are available, including modern languages, science, humanities and classics; the secondary school opened a newly renovated campus in September 2015, with excellent facilities, including a fully equipped science laboratory. BICS’s fees are competitive, ranging from €7,000 to €10,000 per year. The school has a day-care service to assist working parents, and is conveniently located near the European institutions. It has an extensive range of extracurricular activities: sports, music, cultural interests and academic subjects. The school has 580 pupils from over 40 different countries in attendance.

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Golfing glory in Belgium Belgium is not just a hotbed for golfing talent, as the success of 24-year-old rising star Thomas Pieters can attest to, it is also a country with beautiful golfing greens. Discover Benelux asked the AFG, Belgium’s golfing association that covers the French-speaking parts of the country, to tell us more about the popularity and attraction of the sport. TEXT & PHOTOS: AFG

Discover Benelux | Golfing Glory | Introduction

The number of golfers is constantly increasing. Today, we count over 62,000 players in Belgium, including 25,000 in our clubs in Wallonia and Brussels. The Belgian French-speaking Golf Association (AFG) works in harmony with the clubs, golfers, future golfers and the relevant authorities to bring the sport to a higher level in the Walloon region and in our capital. For this purpose, the AFG has two main objectives. Firstly, improving the level of our sport. And secondly, increasing the number of players. Our primary mission is to help promising young golfers to reach the national and international level. We have developed a high-quality sports programme that prepares our young players on the mental, physical and technical aspects of our sport. They are therefore well prepared to integrate to the national team, managed by the Royal Belgian Golf Federation. Our federation also organises around 30 days of official competitions per year, rec-

reational or competitive, for men, ladies, juniors and seniors. We always try to emphasise the values of friendliness and respect for others. Golf is a sport for everyone, for us it is also key to increase the number of players. AFG is very active in terms of golf promotion. In addition to our annual ‘Open Doors’ day, which takes place on 10 April this year, we are present at public events such as the National Day (21 July), Brussels car-free day (18 September) and others. Many free initiations are also organised by the clubs themselves throughout the year. Since 2014, the AFG has also been active in schools. Students of around 11-12 years old are invited to discover golf and learn the basics of our sport. Also, 2016 marks the return of golf to the Olympics. So our message is clear: do not wait to try the new Olympic sport for yourself if you have not already. Issue 28 | April 2016 | 13

Discover Benelux | Golfing Glory | Special Feature



Flanders is probably best known for its chocolate, beer and waffles. What many of us do not know is that Flanders is a perfect place to play golf. The Flemish Golf Federation (VVG) wants to promote Flanders as a top-class golf destination where 54 golf clubs are happy to welcome you for a lovely round of golf or for a challenging workout of your swing. “Flanders has some of the best and most beautiful golf courses at relatively short distances from each other and from the tourist attractions nearby, but it is unknown for many tourists and expats,” says Katrien Pauwels, project manager of Golf in Flanders. “Our golf clubs have all the required facilities: varied and well-kept courses to suit every skill level, good food and great beer at the club house and lots of heritage to 14 | Issue 28 | April 2016

discover.” Flanders and golf is a relatively unknown combination. Nevertheless, Flanders has everything for a great golfing vacation or a day trip during a stay in Belgium. People love to play golf because it is something you do with friends, family or business contacts. Pauwels: “And it is something to do outdoors. Who doesn’t want to go out into the countryside to breathe fresh air and see lots of nature? Golf is both relaxing and challenging, something everyone can become better at. There’s also plenty of time for socialising in the bar afterwards. Like aprèsski, après-golf in the ‘nineteenth hole’ is maybe the most fun part of playing the game.” With support of the State Tourist Department, the Flemish Golf Federation has created a website to provide visitors with

everything they need to plan their holiday in Flanders. “You can pin your favorite golf clubs as well as your favorite touristic sights or leisure-activities on your personal page. You can make a tee time reservation and payment online or take advantage of one of the offered packages and deals.” According to Pauwels there is a great location for everyone, whether you are a beginner or an advanced golfer, or when you are on a holiday or in between meetings. “I want to take this opportunity to invite you to come and experience golf in Flanders on the most amazing spots, such as the Antwerp Harbour, in the shadow of a medieval castle or on the former battlefield of the First World War. Come and visit, play and enjoy.”

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Photo: Wildspirit

Photo: Ilka Beke, BD Concepts


Top Belgian interiors In this special theme, we are proud to present to you some of Belgium’s top interior architects, furniture designers and agencies. There is a clear dedication to both quality and beauty, but these two keywords are only the start of how Belgian professionals set themselves apart in the industry internationally. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK

Photo: Master Meubel

Photo: Liesbeth Goetschalckx, PUUR interior architects

Discover Benelux | Top Belgian Interiors | Introduction

Photo: CTP, G4 Agency

Photo: CORO Furniture Collection

We start the special with a profile on Master Meubel, a company that takes the concept of a ‘furniture store’ to the next level. They do not just combine a fantastic range of exclusive designs with wellknown brands, but also offer comprehensive services for bespoke items and unique finishes. Next, we feature the interior architects of PUUR, who see it as a never-ending missing to truly capture the essence of a space. Simplicity, content, all-encompassing and timelessness are some of their fundamental design values.

Photo: Wildspirit

Moving on, we present TecnoSpace. Experts at creating transparent and high-quality corporate environments, they also do not shy away from taking on challenging projects such as an indoor skydive centre. Turn the page and you will read our profile on furniture and lighting agency G4. The owners’ families have worked in interior design for generations, so if you are an interior design advisor looking for high-end, timeless items, this is the address for you.

Finding the ideal balance between space, light, materials and colours is BD Concepts. They deliver professional, comprehensive advice for all types of interior projects. For our next feature, ‘perfection’ is the ultimate goal: Wildspirit provides signature furniture pieces that unite the best qualities of solid wood and high-quality leather. And finally we present a profile on a unique furniture designer who uses nature to her advantage: the CORO Furniture Collection uses rough driftwood, which gives the modern designs a rustic edge. Issue 28 | April 2016 | 17


Passion for design in an architectural masterpiece TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK & MIRJAM VAN BIEMEN

Just a single glance at the formidable showroom building of Master Meubel nearby Turnhout makes one thing instantly clear: design is in the genes of this company. Master Meubel is a specialist store in furniture and interior design, offering a spectacular 130 brands spread out over 7,000 square metres of modern designer furniture heaven. It is almost like entering a museum, as the impressive building matches the magnif-

icent furniture inside it. “Sometimes clients come up to me and ask if they are allowed to test the chairs and sofas. Of course this is possible, we are a showroom after all,” starts Goele Vermeeren, manager of Master Meubel. There is a superb range of exclusive objects and (an) entire collection(s) by design brands at Master Meubel. Always searching for eye-catching combinations, the company is an expert at showing the

breadth and versatility of modern furniture design. With an in-house team of 15 interior designers, there is also the opportunity to get individual, professional advice. Vermeeren adds: “New clients are matched to one of our interior designers to discuss a wide range of interior topics. Afterwards the designer will share their ideas with colleagues, which helps us to form broader perspectives and constantly generate new ideas.”

The Master Meubel showroom is located in the architecturally iconic building of the Turnhoutse School from 1968, and it is well worth a visit.

Discover Benelux | Top Belgian Interiors | Design & Solutions

Built in 1968, the showroom is the epitome of the local architectural style the Turnhoutse School. The late-modernist structure created by Flemish architect Lou Janssen features many floor-toceiling glass windows that allow daylight to penetrate deep into the interior. “People are always very much impressed when entering the building.” Reality is so much better than the online pictures of the store, she says. Master Meubel understands the importance of quality, and thanks to their expansive range of services, this is something they can guarantee to their customers. The store has its own furniture building workshop, a paint shop, upholstery and a window decoration studio. Designs can be adjusted upon request, and there is also a wide collection of bespoke furniture available. This focus on service and customisation is what characterises this Belgian business; aside from furniture it also offers dressings, kitchens, carpets and curtains. Master Meubel has another important feature: the whole process is taken care of under one roof. The name Master Meubel, meaning ‘master furniture’, is an ode to leading designers such as Charles & Ray Eames, Philippe Starck and Le Corbusier. But not only the design classics are represented at the store, there is also a splendid choice of designs made by the current generation, adding an innovative touch. These designs allow customers of Master Meubel to explore all the latest interior design trends. Well-known brands in the master Meubel collection are Cassina, Knoll, Vitra, B&B Italia and Flexform. The family-owned business was started by Vermeeren’s parents. In the mid-‘80s they discovered this building and immediately fell in love with its special architectural features. Here, they opened a second business, but this time it would purely focus on modern design. Vermeeren herself has been closely involved in Master Meubel ever since the age of 18. “It was an exciting enterprise for them, since exclusive design shops didn’t exist in those days. Thirty years ago, furniture designers were not as

commonly known as they are nowadays,’ says Vermeeren. From individuals looking for inspiration or simply wanting to try a cushion, to interior professionals and architects who are looking for collaboration and technical advice – all are welcome at Master Meubel. Returning customers will not be disappointed, since the showroom gets a makeover every three months. “Because of the ongoing research and development by the design brands, design never stops evolving, and this is shown in our store,” she ends.

WHEN ART AND FURNITURE DESIGN COLLIDE Primarily a store and showroom, Master Meubel also fulfils an educational role. Especially popular among architects and students, one part of the showroom, the Master Gallery, is dedicated to art and design exhibitions. It shows the history of modern design: all the great designers of the previous century are presented together with their most famous furniture pieces. Apart from this, there are also small painting and sculpture presentations by artists such as Dominique Pouchain and Victor Ramirez. Vermeeren explains: “We like to be of service for entire interior solutions and this also includes art. Artwork gives the best personal touch in one’s home.”

In the Master Gallery, you will find famous designers and the stories behind their most important furniture pieces.

Issue 28 | April 2016 | 19

University restaurant Lodewijk, Utrecht. Photo: Jeroen Mush

Interior design that shapes modern society TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK

The best interior designers understand that creating a space that functions is all about seamlessly combining a fitting aesthetic and an intuitive user experience. Balancing visual ideals, technological advances and economic restrictions, a well-designed interior acts as a reflection of society. Constantly challenging himself to find the ultimate solution, Jan Geysen, head of PUUR interior architects, is well aware that he helps to shape modern society through his work. For PUUR, the goal is to create value, and to produce something extraordinary. “For a retail business, it’s not just about putting the shelves in the right places, it is about designing an experience for the customers. Likewise with offices, it is 20 | Issue 28 | April 2016

important that the professional environment reflects the DNA of the company,” he says. To create this kind of added value, they take the user as the starting point. Generating the perfect interior concept is like going on a journey, where PUUR and the client work closely together to search for the best design solution. “We see our clients as a partner, and we treat them like that. We start a dialogue and listen, and are not afraid to ask questions. Together we try to find the essence of the space in terms of atmosphere, user experience and functionality.” PUUR is also eager to put their projects in context. They often take the history of

a building as a source of inspiration, and bring out the soul of the structure in the interior design. One such project was the university restaurant in Utrecht. Calling upon the expertise of a local tour guide, PUUR discovered that the building used to be a palace owned by King Lodewijk Napoleon, who ruled the Netherlands in the early 19th century. The restaurant, aptly named Lodewijk, has a stunning modern interior that also reflects the grandeur of a former royal residence. Geysen: “In the design we wanted to tune into the history of the building. We’ve included abstract elements that show this intriguing past, such as the choice of furniture and wall decorations.”

Discover Benelux | Top Belgian Interiors | Design & Solutions

Another project that perfectly reflects the way PUUR operates is the interior design of De Brug, a café and meeting spot of the University of Amsterdam. The 700-square-metre space is suspended over one of Amsterdam’s canals and was designed to allow for wide-ranging uses. “We designed it with two areas in mind, a fixed section, like a park, and a flexible, open area, like a public square. Choosing stackable furniture allows the university to host a plethora of different events here.” One of the strengths of PUUR is the way they approach the development phase. Coming up with different versions, they systematically optimise their draft designs, fleshing out the details, and incorporating the best solutions to user problems. “And importantly, we only design what is necessary; nothing extra and no difficult things. We keep it realistic,” Geysen explains. “Then once the concept is confirmed, we create a definitive design where we fill in the details such as materials and aesthetic choices.” At the Scandinavian concept store Moose in the City in Antwerp, all their expertise came together as PUUR designed the interior. Located in a former theatre building, they took a museum depot as inspiration to create a retail space for clothing, books and lifestyle products. “We created a new type of adjustable product racks to give the store a depot feeling. They allow for flexibility as the content of the store constantly changes. At four metres high, they double as a space to keep stock.”

De Brug. University of Amsterdam Photo: Jeroen Mush

Located in an underground car park, it had to incorporate a museum-like design that did justice to the cultural heritage, helped to preserve it but also made sense in its context.” Geysen concludes: “We constantly seek out these kinds of innovative projects, and we are certainly the perfect partner for ambitious clients.”

Keizersbastion. Photo: Toon Grobet

While the final look is of course essential, Geysen knows that a space only really comes into its own when it works for the user. The team at PUUR therefore often return to their projects a year on, to get feedback and gain more insight. This in turn helps them come up with the best solutions for even the most intellectually challenging projects. Always seeking out ambitious assignments, PUUR was tasked to combine three different typologies for the archaeological preservation project of the Keizersbastion. “We were asked to expose a section of a 400-year-old city wall in Antwerp.

Moose in the City. Photo: Frederique Vercruysse

Issue 28 | April 2016 | 21


From classic office settings to health care institutions and even in-door skydiving centres, every professional environment needs a fitting and flexible interior that reflects the organisation’s philosophy. Multidisciplinary interior solutions company TecnoSpace in Belgium is an expert at getting the best out of indoor spaces. Complementing their quality products is TecnoSpace’s commitment to a project’s speedy delivery. Alexandre Stoop, the CEO of TecnoSpace, says: “Speed is really important, as clients expect to see results quickly these days. We specialise in delivering quality interior solutions with a fast-turnaround time.” Founded in 1999, TecnoSpace started by building interior panelling systems, but by now it has grown to offer a whole range of interior services, adapted to 22 | Issue 28 | April 2016

suit the unique needs of an organisation. Aside from the classic plasterboard walls, TecnoSpace offers a large collection of glass panels, but also constructs ceilings and floors and offers bespoke solutions. TecnoSpace focusses on the corporate, retail and services sectors to create an interior design that allows for an organisation to evolve. It has completed many office environments, including for notaries, engineering firms and architecture agencies, as well as hospitals and car showrooms. Their top products include the single and double-glazed glass wall panels, available with a variety of fittings. “Especially the ones with slim profiles are popular, as they have a sleek look and a high design aspect. They also promote transparency and openness in an environment and optimise the distribution of natural light,” he says.

One recent project Stoop looks back on with pride is the completion of the interior of the world’s largest indoor skydiving wind tunnel in Liège. Opened in December last year, the interior of the building was created in a completely new, purpose-built facility. He says: “The main thing we had to take into account were two huge generators that create the airflow. We did the entire arrangement, from the walls to the ceilings and the paintwork.” Constantly looking for ways to innovate and expand their product range, TecnoSpace has just launched two new lines: TecnoWood and TecnoGreen. As the name implies, TecnoWood will complement their collection of glass and plasterboard walls with wood.

Discover Benelux | Top Belgian Interiors | Design & Solutions

Photo copyright: e15

Design that radiates personality for generations TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: G4 AGENCY

There is something about the beauty of timeless design that transcends its age. A well-thought-out object can still appear new and inspired, even decades after it was first conceptualised. The purchase of quality furniture should therefore be a lifelong investment, which can then be passed on from one generation to the next. Longevity and quality are two key words that resonate like none other for Johan 24 | Issue 28 | April 2016

Lenaerts. He and Dirk Buytaert are the co-owners of G4 AGENCY, a high-end furniture and lighting agency based in Antwerp. A quick overview of their stunning products reveals a collection of original, top-quality designs that appear modern yet ageless. Lenaerts: “We specialise in timeless design. We don’t offer products that will be outdated by the next season. The next generation also has to be able to enjoy the designs, not just because their aes-

thetic won’t go out of style, but also because they are so well made.” Created from beautiful materials that are handcrafted to perfection, these objects are made to last. Exquisite marble, alluring bronze, elegant glasswork and splendid types of wood are some of the typical materials used. “Our focus is completely on the high-end segment. They have to be top quality and expertly made. Most of our products are manufactured by hand to ensure it is done right,” he adds.

Discover Benelux | Top Belgian Interiors | Design & Solutions

Photo copyright: CTO

The Flag Halyard Chair designed in 1950. Photo copyright: PP MØBLER

From one generation to the next

Visionary designers

The name G4 stands for the fourth generation of the company. Lenaerts’ great-grandmother started her own furniture business, which at the time focussed on bespoke designs. The company then expanded in the next two generations and it was Lenaerts’ father who opened a furniture store that also sold other designers’ collections.

One item that perfectly sums up the collection is the opulent Flag Halyard Chair by Danish designer Hans J. Wegner for PP MØBLER. One of the most celebrated chair designers of the previous century, Wegner created this piece in 1950 but it still looks like a modern and original design. The chair features a steel frame with a seating area made from 240 metres of strung flag line covered by a soft sheepskin fur.

Lenaerts, an interior architect by education, founded a design agency and developed that company, together with Dirk Buytaert, into what it is today. He says: “I don’t design anything myself, but we have collections by international designers, both major names in the industry and lesser known ones. We typically work with smaller studios.” The G4 collections comprise all types of lights and furniture pieces, from sophisticated desks to hanging light centre pieces, comfortable sofas, solid wooden tables, suspended shelving units, atmospheric lamps and handsome dressers.

Lenaerts adds: “While this chair was created nearly 70 years ago, it still looks like a very contemporary piece. It is one of our favourites in the collection because it continues to be a beautiful and current design.”

A sustainable business Another value that is essential for G4 is their commitment to sustainability. “Quality and timelessness add to the durability aspect of our products; they won’t end up on the dump in three years’ time. This

Photo copyright: EMMEMOBILI

Issue 28 | April 2016 | 25

Discover Benelux | Top Belgian Interiors | Design & Solutions

SEE THE COLLECTION This April, G4 AGENCY will once again attend the international furniture fair Salone del Mobile Milan, in Italy. It is the biggest interior design exhibition in the world, where furniture brands, designers and manufacturers from around the globe come together to see the latest trends and developments in the industry. G4 Agency will have representations of all their furniture and lighting collections present at the fair.

Photo copyright: BROKIS

Salone del Mobile Milan is held on 12 to 17 April.

makes our products sustainable in the long run.” Production is also carefully scrutinised by the team at G4. They ensure that if designs are made from solid wood, that there are reforestation programmes active in the regions where the trees are cut down. Moreover, they aim to keep wasteful transportation down. Lenaerts: “For example furniture brand HENGE perfectly reflects our philosophy. They work together with local manufacturers, which minimises our carbon footprint for transportation.”

Working with beauty G4 sells only to the professional markets, with clients ranging from interior design advisors to architects and furniture showrooms. Lenaerts and Buytaert see it as a never-ending mission to expand and update the collections. “We are constantly searching for stunning and durable products. We feel really privileged to do this work, as we are always working with beautiful objects. We can offer our clients designs that are genuinely of the highest quality.” The G4 showroom, for professionals only, in Antwerp can be visited by appointment. For an overview of their lighting and furniture collections, please visit the website. 26 | Issue 28 | April 2016

Photo copyright: BROKIS

Photo copyright: VERZELLONI

Photo copyright: HEIJDEN-HUME

Wildspirit creates timeless furniture, beautifully designed and handmade from the highest-quality materials.


Where can you find new, modern furniture that lasts a lifetime? Wildspirit creates sturdy and timeless furniture pieces with strong and playful designs. Multi-functionality, craftsmanship and a combined use of the highest-quality wood, fabric and calf leather is the soul of the Wildspirit collection. The goal of owners An Danneels and Tom Corthals is to convert innovative ideas into signature pieces. “We create items that match all kinds of interiors, from minimalistic to modern and from timeless to classic,” explains An Danneels. “All pieces are created by designers who turn every single piece of furniture into a true example of perfection.” Wildspirit’s basic collection consists of families of chairs, tables, stools and more, available in a variety of heights

and different kinds of wood. By using solid wood only, such as American walnut, they aim for the ultimate quality. An Danneels: “Our chairs are easily customisable too. You can have them upholstered with a gorgeous fabric or beautifully finished calf leather of choice, so you can create your own unique luxury seat.” The beautiful Play chair is one of Wildspirit’s most popular items and is already a ten-year-old classic. “It’s an elegant and contemporary chair made from one piece of tree trunk, and is easily stackable and super comfortable,” explains An Danneels. The chairs have found their way to impressive locations all over the world, from the Google lounge in San Francisco to the flagship Louis Vuitton store in Tokyo. Their latest product, the Arch, might just follow in the Play chair’s footsteps. An Danneels: “It’s a comfortable chair that supports the back

which makes it a very pleasant chair to sit on during – for instance – long, cosy evenings at the dining table.” All furniture sprouts from the creative minds of talented, independent and mostly Belgian designers. Besides chairs, they have also designed a multifunctional, drum-shaped side table and stool, a cake-shaped outdoor pouf and even a stylish dog bed. All of these items are designed within the spirit of Wildspirit: outof-the-box, refreshing and timeless. The Wildspirit products are available through third parties such as design firms. Curious about the collection? Make an appointment to visit their showroom in Knokke, or visit their stand at the Biennale Interior Fair in the Belgian city of Kortrijk in October. Issue 28 | April 2016 | 27

Discover Benelux | Top Belgian Interiors | Design & Solutions


Catherine Op de Beeck has a pact with nature: she uses materials given to her by Mother Nature and she turns it into functional furniture that complements every home. The CORO Furniture Collection is a business that runs on one thing: driftwood. As the name suggests, it is wood that drifts along rivers and eventually washes ashore. “It’s true, I cannot just order my materials online. I go and look for it myself,” says Op de Beeck. Around six years ago, she had a photoshoot in the south of France when she saw driftwood lying across the shore. “Instantly I was inspired by this gift of nature.” The concept of using driftwood is not new, she says, but producing functional furniture this way intrigued her. “People are coming back from mass production. Clients want something that is special.” 28 | Issue 28 | April 2016

CORO does offer a vast collection with items that are handmade all year round, but the used driftwood is naturally different every time. “After a couple of years I have developed a nose for where I can find driftwood, and especially when. I have some places I visit every so often. I look for the driftwood myself or sometimes with my friends, partner or my parents.” For the first two years, Op de Beeck made everything herself. After that, she needed to delegate as her company grew more successful. She found a way to express her creative side, as well as her commercial one. “But I never sit myself down just to design. The ideas come quite spontaneously. I try to keep up with the style nowadays by visiting interior fairs.” She is independent, yet listens to ideas from customers when working on an

interior project together. In fact, the BOHO poufs are a result of clients’ demands. Now it is one of the most successful items in the CORO collection, she tells. Op de Beeck maybe relies on nature, but she has never let her clients down. Orders are custom made, and delivered, within four to six weeks. Her business stands for something stylish, right from the shore of the sea into your living room with a particular touch of creativity.

Discover for the driftwood furniture collection - for the BOHO poufs and for the showroom and atelier in Provence.

Discover Benelux | Top Benelux Interiors | Design & Solutions

Interior design with a personal touch TEXT: ROSANNE ROOBEEK


Whether you are a modernist or an eclectic bohemian, there is an interior design style to suit every taste and budget. BD Concepts aims to design a creative total solution that is completely customised to its clients.

the choice of materials. The final product becomes a complete picture. BD Concepts has been involved in a range of different projects such as a wellness centre on the first floor in an entirely newly built villa.

BD Concepts offers a personal interior design service tailored to individual aspirations. The company focuses on both private housing and business solutions like offices and shops.

“The client involved us from the very start, which gave us the opportunity and freedom to get involved with every aspect of the house,” Beke says.

The art of a good makeover requires attention. “The first phase of interior design is to carefully listen and clearly understand the desires of your customers,” says Ilka Beke, interior architect at BD Concepts. “We are unique in a way that we take special care of our customer’s personal taste and interests. Our aim is to bring their ideas to life,” she adds.

A small hall leads you in the direction of wellness. Behind a glass door with incorporated led lights that change colour, you will find a private sauna, fitness area, Jacuzzi-spa, Hamam, swim-spa and relaxing area. It is modern and simple, but intimate at the same time. Everything fits together.

The company looks for a balanced interpretation of space, colour combinations, lighting and

BD Concepts designs a creative total solution that is completely customised to its clients.


Discover Benelux | Furniture & Interior Design | The Netherlands

Timeless, quirky and quality Dutch design WRITER: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: POLS POTTEN

For over 30 years Pols Potten has been radiating the definition of true Dutch design. It is quirky, has humour, it is classy but most importantly; it is timeless. Ever since its founding in 1986, the philosophy of Pols Potten has been the same. Although they may have evolved over the last three decades, the true foundation has never changed. CEO Theo Grootendorst: “We have changed from a ceramic design specialist to a brand. In recent years we have switched to accessories and lifestyle, and now also furniture. Pols Potten has never altered its philosophy. We want to make a connection between craftsmanship and old traditions with a modern twist. Many of the Pols Potten designs have a sense of humour in them. For example, the quirky moneyboxes that are treated with a kind of classic Delftware look, winking at the presumed Dutch thrift.”

Offering the highest quality All products are made by skilled craftsmen. “We only use materials that we believe belong to the traditional craftsmanships,” says Grootendorst. “There is porcelain, wood, steel and glass. For example, most of the glass elements are handmade, the coloured pieces are made of full coloured glass and each piece is mouth-blown. Each glass product is truly unique.” Designs by Pols Potten are not part of the ‘usual’; nevertheless, they are modern, fashionable and timeless.

An international affair Pols Potten is currently present in more than 41 countries worldwide, which proves that their designs have an international character: they are subtle, innovative, unconventional and clearly rooted in the Dutch Design traditions. From Singapore to New York City, from Milan to Cape Town 30 | Issue 28 | April 2016

and from Amsterdam to Tokyo: Pols Potten can be found anywhere in the world. Even famous designers, like the French Philippe Starck and the Dutch Jan des Bouvrie, integrate Pols Potten in their design projects. Chances are that people have seen a true Pols Potten design without knowing, but once they are familiar

with the designs, they will be recognised everywhere. Grootendorst: “The designs are quirky and distinctive, this creates a kind of timelessness. We have developed our collection through collaborations with different Dutch designers within our own

Discover Benelux | Furniture & Interior Design | The Netherlands

design studio. With our collection we want to create a mood and ambience and organise spaces in a unique way. We are mainly engaged in the retail sector; there are a fair few hotels, restaurants, concept stores and luxury department stores that have elements in their interior or window displays created by Pols Potten. But we are also in direct contact with the enduser, thanks to our flagship store in Amsterdam and our webshop”

Iconic design One of Pols Potten’s most iconic designs is the ‘Bufferlamp’ created by designer Wieki Somers. It is a luxury product that is new and innovative, but with a heart for the classics. According to Grootendorst this design includes everything Pols Potten stands for; timelessness, divergence and honesty. Grootendorst: “The lamp is made with high-quality porcelain by skilled craftsmen, which makes it a real iconic masterpiece. The Bufferlamp is the most recognised design and visible at public places around the globe.

A prominent presence For many years now, Pols Potten has been a prominent brand at various design events. One of them is the twice annual Parisian MAISON&OBJET, a world famous design fair in September and January. Pols Potten has a commanding presence to show everyone how they arrange projects and create the most outstanding products. Grootendorst: “We are not only at this Parisian fair, but also at different events in the Netherlands, including at the first edition of the LINDA.festival in May this year for example, but also at Design District in June, a special event for architects and

design lovers. Everything is clearly Pols Potten, we make sure that we are visible.”

Inspiration With the collaboration of more than 25 designers and various international producers, inspiration never gets lost. Grootendorst believes it is a reciprocal process. On one hand people get inspiration from their colleagues, surroundings and overall striking features in life. On the other hand the various and international manufacturers also give inspiration and new ideas. “A designer is always inspired, that is exactly what Pols Potten wants to achieve for all people with their designs.” Grootendorst: “We always keep the location in mind, when decorating and designing spaces. For example for event location De Bary, a 17th century Amsterdam canal house, we needed to keep the ancient feeling but applied a modern twist. The modern design does not conflict with the historic space.” Issue 28 | April 2016 | 31

Photo: Fabrizio Maltese

Photo: Fabrizio Maltese

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Jaco Van Dormael


Defying the rules God exists and he lives in Brussels. That is the premise of Jaco Van Dormael’s new internationally acclaimed film The Brand New Testament (Le Tout Nouveau Testament). We spoke to the award-winning director to tell us more about the story, how it was developed, and what it is that fascinates audiences worldwide.


Released in the United Kingdom later this month, The Brand New Testament is a surrealistic, black comedy about a young girl wanting to change the world. This girl, the ten-year-old Ea, is God’s daughter. She lives in a tiny apartment in Belgium’s capital, together with her sadistic father and sweet-natured mother. Sick of her life and of God’s intentionally cruel treatment of humanity, Ea sets off on a quest to overwrite her father’s rules by finding six new apostles and thereby creating a brand new testament. The film, spoken in French, has picked up a great deal of attention around the world, including a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. It was Belgium’s entry to the Oscars and although it missed out on a proper nomination, it was included on the December shortlist with just eight other films. It also won four prizes at the Magritte Awards, Belgium’s most important film awards, including Best Film. We asked Van Dormael why he thinks the story, which is so firmly set in Brussels, appeals to so many people. “I never know why a film works,” he begins. “I make films like dropping a message in a bottle, it is always a miracle when somebody finds it, and it is always a miracle when the theatres are crowded. When they are not, I don’t understand why, and

when they are I don’t understand why but I am glad.”

A rebellious perspective The main character in the film is Ea, Jesus’ sister, a role that is brilliantly played by Pili Groyne. Van Dormael says the idea of God having family really kick-started the storyline of the film. “What if he has a daughter, and she is a rebel and she is ten years old? Then the story started of course, because she hates her father like every teenager.” During the film, God, played by Benoît Poelvoorde, gets more and more upset with Ea’s actions. Following her around, he comes to experience what life is like for the people he has been tormenting for ages, causing him to get even more outraged. Van Dormael explains why he decided to portray God as a bitter, sadistic man: “Hitchcock says, to have a good film, you need a good bad guy, a very strong bad guy. To make his daughter a rebel, he needed to really be a bastard. And it was not difficult to find, in the Bible, God is described as ‘jealous’. He destroys cities, cities who don’t obey, he destroys them. He asked a father to kill his son, that is not so kind!” The inherent innocence and inquisitive nature of children is what Van Dormael used to push the story forward. And is

it not just Ea who portrays these characteristics. “In this film every character still has a kid inside, we see the kid that is inside every adult in a short moment. We see the childhood of every character and that gives the feeling that these grownups are just kids in grownups’ bodies. Nothing changed really,” he says. “What I like in characters that are kids is that they are rebels, even if they don’t know, they are rebels, because they ask why, why, why? They have another interpretation of what is reality and how it functions, sometimes more surreal, and sometimes funnier.”

The new apostles Ea is joined by six inhabitants of Brussels on her quest. These are all people that are unhappy with their own lives, but they feel like they are unable to change this. With Ea’s help, they get their lives back on track, albeit in completely unexpected ways. Van Dormael says: “They are six magnificent losers. They are six people who think that their life is behind then and that love will not appear anymore. And you know, there is a beautiful sentence by a French writer ‘if happiness is a house, the biggest room is the waiting room’. So they spend their whole lives in the waiting room, waiting for happiness.” From a nerdy bachelor who is obsessed with naked women, to an unhappy wife who then falls in love with a gorilla, to a Issue 28 | April 2016 | 33

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Jaco Van Dormael

Photo: Kris Dweitte

schoolboy who chooses to dress like a girl and an old man who leaves Brussels to live in the wild; the characters learn to follow their desires no matter how unusual. “The human mind is very powerful at putting itself in a little box. To build this small prison and think: ‘okay, this life will be that and nothing else’. And what Ea brings is, she opens the box,” Van Dormael says. “They invent strange ways to be happy, with strange couples. Strange love stories, but love stories.”

Shining the light on the women For Van Dormael this was the first collaboration with scriptwriter Thomas Gunzig. “I think it was because we were two that it became a comedy. We tried to make each other laugh and that is much easier when you are two,” he says. However, the film goes through a range of genres, touching on many different emotions as the story develops but always interjected with funny, light-hearted scenes. “It alternates between comic, tragic and poetic,” he says, “there are a lot of different ways to 34 | Issue 28 | April 2016

approach the film, with the heart, with the brain or with the skin; laughing or crying.” Some of the ideas of the storyline actually came from their own backgrounds, and the questions they had about their religious upbringing. “I have a Catholic education, Thomas has a Jewish education and both when we were kids, we were surprised that no women were saying anything in the books.” Van Dormael was keen to give women a platform in the film. This is both in the way

the story is composed, but is also reflected by the audience response, something that delighted Van Dormael. “It is a space for women,” he says. “I had the great feeling that at the beginning of the film I heard a lot of male laughs, male voices laughing. As the film continued, I heard more and more female voices laughing. And that made me really feel good.”

Religion and the story Van Dormael points out that while religion is a big theme in the film, it is not actually

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Jaco Van Dormael

what the story is about. He explains: “It is more a film about the power and sort of male power that is based on fear and obedience; there are laws, and if you don’t obey, there will be punishment. And that exists in religion, family, society and politics. And what God’s daughter, Jesus’s sister, brings is that she says; there will be no law and there will be no punishment, and don’t be afraid.” Naturally, a story about such deeprooted concepts such as God, Jesus, the testament and other Christian concepts, might not be appreciated by everyone. However, there was very little criticism from religious groups. “I was surprised, the film is incredibly successful in Italy and in Poland,” he says. “I heard that some people were shocked in Australia. Some creationists, but this film is also creationist; God created Brussels.”

He explains what this added to the film, and also explains his reasoning behind the cinematographic choices: “We tried to have something very banal in the set, have normal houses, normal streets, but to film it like they were religious: to make frontal images, have something theatrical and symmetrical images. So even when we film the door of a garage, it is frontal and symmetrical. Then it has something that reminds you of religious images and the characters are like in the paintings, they look at the camera and, like they look at the painter and they are in the middle. So even without any cross or religious sign, it gives a sort of religious feeling.” A surreal story in a surreal city

The everyday turned into something sacred

As the film progresses, it becomes increasingly surreal. All the laws of physics and rules of nature are thrown out of the window, as God loses his grip on the world. We asked Van Dormael what inspired him to add this level of surrealism to the story.

To give the film a reverent feeling, Van Dormael adopted different style elements to get this across. One of the things used multiple times in the film are intimate monologues with the main characters, where they tell their story to the audience while looking into the camera.

“I live in a surreal country, so surrealism is very close to reality here. It is so crazy, people often say, to live in Belgium you have to be crazy otherwise you will be nuts. It is a country I like, but also because there is no mainstream, nobody agrees

with anybody and there is no fight. And everything exists with the opposite on the other side and there is no problem, well sometimes there is a problem, but nothing is solved, never anything is solved,” he concludes.

Photo: Kris Dweitte


works in mysterious ways.)

If you thought God’s son was trouble... Wait until you meet his daughter.

Photo: Kris Dweitte

The Brand New Testament will be released in UK cinemas on 15 April. Issue 28 | April 2016 | 35


Surprisingly versatile Ask a random Dutchman to describe the province of Friesland and chances are that he will respond by referring to it as an open area with lots of water. At merely an hour’s drive from Amsterdam, head-neck-body farms take up seemingly random spots in the vast green countryside. The horizon is distant, the air toweringly high and everywhere the water glistens. TEXT: STICHTING MERK FRYSLÂN

Photo: Tom Coehoorn

36 | Issue 28 | April 2016

Photo: Marcel van Kammen

Discover Benelux | Explore Friesland | Introduction

Photo: Tom Coehoorn

In fact, Friesland is synonymous with water. You can sail here, go paddleboarding, canoeing or experience an invigorating sailing regatta with ‘skûtsjes’. Every summer, these races between sailing traditional inland freight vessels provide lots of excitement. In winter, all Frisians unite in their hope for a sustained spell of freezing weather – the indispensable requirement for the 11 cities ice skating marathon the Elfstedentocht. The population of this northern province truly comes to life in icy weather conditions, which provides a great opportunity for many to engage in endurance skating races on frozen canals and lakes. Do you prefer sunny days? In the summer you may take a tour of over 200 kilometres, along all of the 11 Frisian cities. Of course, it is possible to cover the tour on waterways, or to do it by cycling or hiking. This will enable you to fully enjoy the

vast Frisian countryside with its endless vistas. During any of your visits, you will be rest assured that a cosy outdoor cafe awaits you in every one of the 11 charming cities. And you can also count on the fact that you will hear the language of the Frisians, the only other official language of the Netherlands aside from Dutch. The 11 cities of Friesland constitute the historical heart of the province. The charming little city of Sloten, with its quiet canal and convex bridges, is home to less than 800 inhabitants. Strongholds dating back to the 16th century still protect Dokkum’s city centre and the world’s oldest functioning planetarium is found in the city of Franeker. The four national parks of Friesland are pearls of nature in green and blue. Additionally, there is the Wadden Sea of course, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and a unique nature reserve.

Twice a day, the sea retreats to expose large, flat sandy areas where millions of birds find something to eat. Similarly, many Frisian chefs enjoy preparing culinary delights based on local, natural ingredients gleaned from sea and Frisian fields. In modern days the Frisians are great at practising the age-old tradition of ‘Mienskip’: a sense of community, helping one another whenever possible. Mienskip has also been selected as the central theme for the year 2018, when Leeuwarden will be the radiant Cultural Capital of Europe. Are you eager to have a taste of the Province of Friesland? Pay Friesland a visit during the weekends on 15-17 April, or on 22-24 April. The province will be filled with typically Frisian activities at attractive rates. For now or later: ‘Wolkom!’ Issue 28 | April 2016 | 37

Discover Benelux | Explore Friesland | Sailing

Rederij Vooruit is located in Friesland and has a range of traditional sailing ships to rent, equipped for all kinds of groups.

Sailing in (traditional) style TEXT: ROSANNE ROOBEEK | PHOTOS: REDERIJ VOORUIT

Imagine the salty sea air blowing through your hair, the sound of the water against the bow and a pink sky during sunset. You can experience it all on a sailing trip with Rederij Vooruit. Rederij Vooruit has been running since 1968, making it the oldest ‘rederij’, or shipping company in the Netherlands. It is located in Friesland, a province in the north of the Netherlands that sets itself apart by its own distinctive culture and language. Friesland’s landscape is unique; it has the largest chain of connected inland lakes in Europe and is perfect for water sport enthusiasts. “Being based in Harlingen, which is in the very north of Friesland, on the coast, makes us flexible to take many different 38 | Issue 28 | April 2016

routes,” says Joost Bakker, owner and captain of Rederij Vooruit. “We sail from different ports onto the Wadden Sea, Ijssel Lake and the Frisian Lakes that are interconnected through a distinctive system of rivers and canals. You can experience typical landscapes with wide panoramas decorated with picturesque villages and cities.” Rederij Vooruit has a range of traditional boats and ships available to rent, equipped for all kinds of groups, from school and business trips to private parties. You can sail under the watchful eye of the skipper who will teach you everything you want to know about sailing such as steering the ship, knots and navigation. They have an extensive fleet with more than 40 ships, which can accommodate

over 1,000 people in total. There are ships for long journeys or short trips, sailboats for small groups and for large groups. The smallest ship with sleeping facilitates can accommodate up to seven people and the biggest ship can hold 34. Besides the sailing activities, Rederij Vooruit has a restaurant called De Admirael, serving traditional sailor’s dinners and typical Frisian dishes. The sailing season will officially open on ‘Vlootdag’ (Fleet Day) which will take place on 9 April. “This is a lovely festival with music, great food and of course traditional ships,” says Bakker. “You can come on board the ships and join us for a trip, something you simply do not want to miss out on!”

Discover Benelux | Explore Friesland | Top Holiday Spots


Located in the heart of Leeuwarden, in a gorgeous national monument, you will find the award-winning Frisian natural history museum, a place to discover nature like nowhere else. The museum combines information with entertainment, anticipating on kids’ fascination for everything that lives, grows and flourishes. Though adults will have the time of their lives as well. “We focus on co-education,” explains general manager Gerk Koopmans. “Kids learn by pressing buttons and jumping on things, while adults read the information. They’re learning from each other while they’re making their way through the museum.” The eye-catching permanent exhibition Friesland under water is a great example of the experiences the museum has to offer. “You’ll descend into the underwater world of a typical Frisian farmer’s ditch: you walk below the

duckweed, meet diving cormorants and a dangerous-looking catfish. But your feet stay dry!” Besides these interesting experiences, the museum offers many temporary exhibitions and their extensive and scientifically valuable permanent collection of over 300,000 exhibits keeps growing. “Every day a taxidermist is at work in the museum. Visitors can see how he stuffs the animals, from the dissection to weighing the stomach contents and the actual stuffing. It’s very real and very fascinating.” This combination of science and experience has gained the museum the award for best childcentred museum of the Netherlands. “That award is like the Oscar for museums,” says Koopmans happily. And they won it rightfully. “This is the only museum where parents ask their kids whether it’s already time to go home,” he laughs.

Uber-cool cubes in a characteristic country landscape TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | IMAGES: WEIDUMERHOUT

Discover ancient Dutch villages and magical rural landscapes at this friendly boutique hotel in Friesland. With traditional farmhouse rooms and quirky Outside-Inn cubes, it is a unique place in a fairy tale location. With endless canals, mature orchards and historic architecture, this area is bursting with true Frisian character. The WeidumerHout hotel is an authentic Frisian farmhouse dating back to the 19th century and has three and a half acres of private countryside. With a large sloping roof and restored brickwork, the manor has a distinctive exterior which is characteristic of the era. Inside, there is an exquisite blend of old and new with exposed beams and rustic features complemented with stylish, modern luxuries. Outside, there are also five inventive cube rooms that have their own exclusive spot amongst the lush fields. Made from natural

wood and with clean, minimalist lines, they are standalone pods that are one of a kind. Floorto-ceiling windows look out over the peaceful scenery, while king-size beds are matched with deluxe en-suite bathrooms. With sensational views and a cosy, intimate vibe, they are perfect for couples who want to unwind. WeidumerHout also offers a restaurant, with daily varying lunch and dining options. The chef, who has previously worked for several exclusive restaurants, makes sure to offer a novel culinary experience by using fresh, local and seasonal produce every day. Make sure you book ahead, as the restaurant is popular with guests. So, if you would like to experience an unforgettable and unique stay in the countryside of the Netherlands, visit WeidumerHout or find out more on their website. Issue 28 | April 2016 | 39


The capital of Friesland, the start and finish of the legendary ice skating marathon the Elfstedentocht, the former seat of the House of OrangeNassau, and European Capital of Culture 2018: this is Leeuwarden. As well as a surprising array of shops, exciting museums and inspiring events, it has a historic city centre with over 800 monuments and eye-catching modern architecture. There are a multitude of ways to discover it: by city tour; weaving through the canals on a Friesian barge; or taking the helm of a rental boat. Leeuwarden’s idyllic terrace-lined canals and city centre boast abundant moorings including at the harbour and the Prinsentuin. Once you have visited the water, climb the leaning 16thcentury Oldehove church tower or take the elevator up the modern 114metre-high Achmea Tower. Outside Leeuwarden you will find the popular Aqua Zoo Friesland, an aquatic universe in an unspoiled location. 40 | Issue 28 | April 2016

The impressive architecture and monuments are testament to its former role as a capital city. King Willem-Alexander is a descendant of the Friesian John William Friso, Prince of Orange (1687-1711) and his wife Maria Louise (1688-1765). For a taste of royal riches, visit the former residences, the Stadhouderlijk Hof and the Princessehof palace, or see the vaults of the Grote Kerk and the Nassau family’s former pleasure gardens, the Prinsentuin. To fully relive Leeuwarden’s regal heritage, take the guided tour ‘In the footsteps of the Nassaus’. The city takes an innovative approach to contemporary culture. This includes the award-winning, revamped Natuurmuseum Fryslân and the Fries Museum with its upcoming exhibitions on Alma Tadema, the exotic spy and dancer Mata Hari and M.C. Escher. Housed in an elegant palace (also the birthplace of Escher), the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics boasts a stunning collection of Asian and European ceramics. See the Pier Pander sculpture museum, the His-

torisch Centrum Leeuwarden, the Boomsma Beerenburg Museum and Distillery and the Grutterswinkel, a grocery store museum and café, and the Harbour museum. Alongside the museums and over 20 studios and galleries, Leeuwarden’s vibrant theatre and concert scene features an events calendar worthy of a capital city. With on-going Sunday shopping, the picture-perfect city counts numerous boutiques and cosy cafés on the canal banks, with tucked-away shopping streets lined with boutiques and authentic Friesian delicacies. Twice crowned ‘the prettiest shopping street in the Netherlands’, the Kleine Kerkstraat is a must-see, as is the Wilhelminaplein’s weekly market. OPENING TIMES De Oldehove: April to October Achmea Tower: every second Saturday of the month Wilhelminaplein market: every Friday

Discover Benelux | Explore Friesland | A Taste of the North


for their creaminess and unique taste, the result of a rare combination of factors. “Jersey cows’ milk is rich in fat and protein, resulting in a very creamy cheese,” explains owner Otto-Jan Bokma. “And the loam soil gives the grass and thus the milk a distinctive and rich taste, which we preserve in our cheese by using only raw milk in our recipes.”

Jersey cows grazing peacefully in vast, green Frisian fields, while locals and tourists cycle through the landscape at a relaxed pace: this is the daily view at the picturesque western part of Friesland, where cheesemaker De Nylander is located. Their biological cheeses are internationally famed

He continues: “Plus, our cows graze on the outdoor fields as soon as the weather permits it, allowing them to eat their natural food: grass. Happy cows make for great tasting cheese.” De Nylander’s cheese can be found in specialty shops in metropoles such as Madrid, Paris and New York and are available through their webshop. De Nylander operates in partnership with JerseyPleats, a business that has been has been owned by the family for over 80 years

‘Our aim is not to conquer the world, but transfer the love for beer’ Brewing special beers has become extremely popular over the last few years. It is a fascinating production process and the possibilities seem endless. The Dutch province of Friesland counts some of the most special breweries that the Netherlands offers. One of them is the micro brewer Kleine Beer Brouwerij. “We started the commercial brewing in 2013, but our love for beer, obviously, goes way back in time,” says Bernd Beersma, initiator and co-owner of Kleine Beer Brouwerij. “We have a testing room in the city of Lemmer, where we create all our special beers, but the final beers are brewed at our brewer friend’s Admiraals BierBrouwerij in the Frisian town of Aldtsjerk.” Beersma: “For us adding local ingredients is self-evident. Wherever it is possible we give the beers a local touch. Whether it is an aro-

and also includes three livestock farms. “In 1998 we switched from conventional farming to biological farming, which adds to the quality of our cattle and our products,” explains Bokma. Besides cheese, Bokma and his family offer delicious Jersey meat in their farm shop and they distribute it to local restaurants as well. This way of working attracts a great deal of visitors from all over the world, who are interested to see how De Nylander runs its ecological farm. Bokma: “That’s of course a great honour!”


ma or ingredient, there is always one element from Friesland.” Kleine Beer Brouwerij is much more than a simple brewery. They also provide tastings; beer pairings with restaurants; there is a collaboration with a cheesemaker and there is even mustard to be sampled with their beers. “This way we can show our love for beer to a much wider audience, and people get to experience several possibilities,” says Beersma. “We are also present at various beer festivals throughout the country.” Kleine Beer Brouwerij is a collaboration between Bernd Beersma, Marcel Top and Christel Tijenk, all three of them are great beer lovers and are always on a search for new flavours or recipes with or for beer. Visit them at beer festivals in Groningen or The Hague in April and May. Issue 28 | April 2016 | 41


Serene countryside around a bustling centre Is it not always true that the further north you go, the purer it gets? In the north-easternmost corner of the Netherlands, but just over two hours by train from Amsterdam, lies Groningen: a peaceful, green province with a bustling capital. The people of Groningen like to keep things simple. TEXT & PHOTOS: MARKETING GRONINGEN

Discover Benelux | Groningen Guide | Introduction

Let us start in the very north. Groningen province lies on the edge of the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site. From the dykes a vast expanse of water can be seen, alternating twice a day with an artistic composition of channels and sandbanks, and thousands of birds. Before monks discovered the art of dyke building in the Middle Ages, the sea posed a threat to farmers on the flat lands. They built mounds to protect their farms, churches and cows from flooding. The church towers on these mounds are still the highest points that catch the eye during a walk or bike ride in the countryside. Finding a borg takes more effort. Rows of trees often conceal these manor houses built by the nobility in bygone centuries. However, they are worth finding because many now house museums or top restaurants. While the sea threatened the northern border of Groningen, another enemy threatened its eastern one, leading William of Orange to issue orders to build a star-shaped fortress in the marshland during the Eighty Years’ War. A trip to the tranquil village of Bourtange is like a journey back in time. The capital city of the province, also called Groningen, enjoys a rich history while moving with the times. For the people of Groningen there is only one city, so they just call it Stad; ‘City’. Cyclists have priority, and the air is cleaner than in any other Dutch city. A quarter of the population are students, which explains the open, fresh and creative vibe. A study of 79 European cities found an extremely high quality of life in Stad, with 97 per cent of the inhabitants happy to live there.

archaeological discoveries, silverware and the colourful landscape paintings by art collective De Ploeg. These painters saw a century ago that Groningen is like an artist’s palette.

While Stad is famous in the Netherlands for its buzzing night life around the beloved Martinitoren, the fame of music festivals like Eurosonic Noorderslag spreads way beyond national borders. Then there is the Groninger Museum, a popular destination and work of art in itself. Alongside major exhibitions, these brightly coloured blocks by architect Mendini house Issue 28 | April 2016 | 43


When Wil Hoogeboom entered the hayloft, she was instantly captivated. The bundles of straw were beautifully lit by the sunlight filtering through the cracks in the wooden roof. Soon, the loft became a popular guest room, and became the start of a unique ‘sleeping in straw’ experience. “Ever since we began, it hasn’t been quiet,” says Hoogeboom, owner of the Hayema Heerd in Groningen province. In 2010 they started offering an overnight stay in the hayloft with one king-size bed with a mattress made from straw. Now the Hayema Heerd offers multiple straw beds in luxury igloos – single-room domes made from straw packs – and in an indoor ‘straw castle’. “We combine the rustic, pure sensation of sleeping in straw, with a luxurious experience: we use beautiful bedlinen and the rooms have cosy decorations,” says 44 | Issue 28 | April 2016

Hoogeboom. “The straw castle is made from over 500 straw packs and includes battlements walls, medieval-style furniture and even a harness.” Aside from being a unique bed and breakfast, the Hayema Heerd is also an original location for events and business meetings. “Our concept attracts all kinds of people, from groups of friends and work colleagues to wedding parties, young love birds and elderly couples,” she says. Constantly finding new ways to expand, Hoogeboom is planning to introduce ‘huifkarslapen’ this month; sleeping in a traditional, covered wagon, either at the Hayema Heerd or on location. Moreover, Hoogeboom and her team are currently creating an ‘indoor beach’. She explains: “We are covering the floor of the old cowshed in sand. We’ll build a stage from straw packs and dress the room up with lights, parasols and sun chairs.”

A room in the straw castle and the igloos can be booked individually. The hayloft is available for groups from six people. An overnight stay can also be combined with various activities (see box). TEAMBUILDING WITH A FLOCK OF SHEEP The Hayema Heerd offers several activities and workshops, such as a teambuilding herding challenge where participants need to direct a flock of sheep around a track. They can also arrange a farming crash course at one of the nearby dairy or agricultural farms; igloo building with straw packs; a 30-kilometre ‘proud to be in Grunn’n’ cycle route around independent produce shops, and an outdoor cooking workshop on open wood fires using Dutch ovens.

Discover Benelux | Groningen Guide | Beer Brewery


A few years ago, Albert-Jan Swierstra decided it was time for a change. Having worked as a printer for over two decades, he saw his industry dwindling and started looking for other avenues. Then he discovered beer brewing, a craft that is now his new profession. Swierstra, owner of family Brewery Martinus, says: “Independent breweries are on the rise. I tried it as a hobby intensively for two years and this was a really positive experience; as a printer you tend to work on other people’s ideas but as a brewer you create your own.”

In November last year, Brewery Martinus officially opened in the same historic, 1940s building that once housed the printing presses. Meticulous when it comes to quality, Swierstra is proud to use natural water from Groningen, producing delicate, soft-tasting beers. Starting out with a Blonde, Brown and Pale Ale, Swierstra is already adding another three to the collection “We are the biggest microbrewery in the centre of Groningen,” he says. “We just introduced a Tripel and in April we will launch a Saison beer and a refreshing Weizen.” His passion for brewing is certainly infectious. His wife Henriëtte and their youngest son Martijn, who is the brewer, have been part of the business from the beginning. Swierstra: “Brewing beer is one big, never ending adventure. There are so many variables, that we can continue to develop our beers for years to come.” Brewery Martinus also hosts tours, where visitors can see the brewing process from

up close and learn more about the unique building. A tour will of course finish with several beer samplers in the tasting room. Swierstra’s personal favourite is their Pale Ale. “Made using dry hopping, it is not quite as bitter as an IPA, easy to drink and great for in the summer.” GRONINGEN, BEER CITY Working together with fellow local brewers, Swierstra wants to turn his home town into a ‘beer city’ and promote Groningen as a beer destination. This April, they will launch ‘D’Olle Grieze’, a sweet, lactose-containing milk stout inspired by old-style, nutritional country beers. With 500 people attending, D’Olle Grieze will be served with the main course of the biggest ‘beer dinner’ in the world during the annual Groningen Beer Festival. Bierfestival Groningen 2016 is held on 8 and 9 April in the Martinikerk.

Issue 28 | April 2016 | 45

Discover Benelux | A Taste of the Benelux | Best Culinary Experiences

French or Belgian or just fries? TEXT & PHOTOS: RUPERT PARKER

In the heart of Europe, there is a fevered culinary debate about who actually invented fried chipped potatoes. The Belgians claim to be the first. To make their case they have established a Frietmuseum, in the tiny city of Bruges. Potatoes only arrived in Europe from Peru in 1573, but at first nobody wanted to eat them. It was a Frenchman, AntoineAugustin Parmentier, who championed their cause. He cultivated a couple of fields in Paris in 1789, experimented in the kitchen and published a number of specialist potato cook books. Now you might think that he is responsible for inventing the French fry, but he only gets credit for Hachis Parmentier (French shepherd’s pie), which is mashed potato with diced meat. Instead there is a tale about Belgian villagers living by the side 46 | Issue 28 | April 2016

of the River Meuse, gathering tiny fish which they fried. Winters were harsh in the 1750s, the river froze, so the villagers cut up potatoes the same size as the fish and fried those instead. Voila, the birth of fries! If you believe this, then why are they not called Belgian fries? Another fable has it that during the First World War, US soldiers tasted fries from their Frenchspeaking Belgian colleagues, decided they were delicious, and took them back to the US as French fries. However, the real origin is probably Seville in Spain back in the 16th century. Mother Teresa of Avila grew the new arrivals in her convent gardens to feed the poor and sick and probably fried them in olive oil. So perhaps we should call them Spanish fries instead? These days the best Belgian fries are made from bintje potatoes, a hybrid developed in the Netherlands in 1904, with yellow flesh, silky skin, creamy texture

and a slightly nutty flavour. They should be freshly peeled, sliced and then dried thoroughly. You fry them in unrefined beef tallow in two stages; first at 140 degrees Celsius for four to eight minutes, then let them rest. Next they are plunged into a second fryer at a temperature of 180 for two to three minutes, taken out, shaken, then dusted with salt and served. In Belgium, you get a choice of sauces with mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and tartare being the most popular ones. A particular favourite is Andalusian, unique to Belgium with no connection to Spain, which is a delicious mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise topped with chopped onions. Learn more about Belgian fries at the Frietmuseum in Bruges, Vlamingstraat 33.

Discover Benelux | A Taste of the Benelux | Best Culinary Experiences

How craftsmanship and innovation lead to unique brews TEXT: CAROLINE D’HONT | PHOTOS: MANU DE LANDTSHEER

In Buggenhout, a picturesque town in the middle of Flanders, lays independent brewery Malheur, which has been in the De Landtsheer family for seven generations. Descendant Manu De Landtsheer has revived the brewery to its former glory and developed the high-quality brand of Malheur beers; famous for its noblesse, fermentation process and a new type of brewing called ‘brut beer’. If you know your French, ‘malheur’ will remind you of bad timing. Do not be fooled, this brand rather stands for a lucky coincidence of the right ingredients, craftsmanship and atmosphere coming together to form great gourmet brews. For Manu, the focus is on quality, rather than large production quantity. Therefore, he spends a great deal of time selecting the right hops and long multiple fermentations, resulting

into the high-quality craft beers Malheur is known for. The crown jewels of the collection are the Malheur 10° and 12° and Malheur Bière Brut. Malheur 10° is a blonde of ten per cent alcohol by volume, boasting a bright yellow colour and rich honey texture, a taste of peach with notes of spicy orange and lemon peel, and a bitter sour note in the warm aftertaste. Malheur 12° is not for the faint hearted with 12 per cent alcohol, presenting a surprisingly smooth and delightful bouquet in spices, rich hop flowers and full-bodied flavour in a beautiful deep chestnut coloured beer. Both won gold medals in the World Beer Awards 2013 and 2014. With his brut beer, Manu De Landtheer has invented a whole new category of beers. He was the first brewer ever to treat his beer like noble sparkling wine, using

the traditional ingredients for high-quality beer, but giving it the ‘à la méthode originale’ finish. The result is a refined sparkling beer with a lively head and elegant acidic aftertaste, suitable as an aperitif, dessert drink or digestive. Because of this gourmet approach to production, Malheur beers pair well with culinary delights such as strong cheeses and even Havana cigars. Michelin-starred chefs from all over Europe have paired their local specialties to Malheur beers. You can have a taste of this unique specialty beer in selected bars all over Belgium, or book a visit to the Malheur brewery, to gaze upon the old vaulted cellar and the antique coolship. Dive into the rich family history and of course finish by tasting the famous beers. Issue 28 | April 2016 | 47

Discover Benelux | A Taste of the Benelux | Best Culinary Experiences

Local products in the spotlight TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: BELARTISAN

Devos picks out for his company are produced on a small scale and are of high quality.

It was a great passion that evolved into a company that advocates the finest Belgian products. This is what Belartisan is about: “We want to give local products as much attention as foreign ones,” says owner Bernard Devos. The company name joins two key values. Firstly, ‘Bel’, which stands for Belgium as well as a reference to the French word for beautiful, ‘belle’. And ‘artisan’ because all the products

In the eyes of Devos, food and drinks do not get enough attention nowadays. The products come in a basket, mostly for businesses. “Is there anything nicer than to give away a basket full of locally produced items?” asks Devos. He noticed that due to the economic crisis, people were returning to buy products that are produced locally. “Why does a wine always have to come from France or Spain? But a platform for limited edition products from Belgium did not yet exist.” And so, Belartisan established itself to the public. “Of course we have things very typical for Belgium, like beers and chocolate, but we pick the brands very carefully. For every established brand, there is a brand more unknown that we would like to offer.” Fortunately, Belartisan does not only deliver to companies, but also to

individuals who just want to try typical Belgian finesse. For those who want to see and taste the products, Belartisan every so often organises a wine tasting. Their stores are located in Antwerp, Mechelen and Turnhout, or you can go to their website to order directly online.


colours and exquisite cuisine, the visitor will find himself entering a world created by the expert taste of Maz Patwary. “The star dish on the menu without a doubt the chicken tikka masala,” says Patwary, “although the chefs are also able to re-create dishes that our guests might have tasted in India and want to re-discover.” Mouth-watering Bengali and Indian dishes, a magical atmosphere and an incredible savoir-faire: these are just some of the elements that make the Royal Bengal restaurant so attractive and unique. Enter a spicy world of wonders. With its jaw-dropping menu, offering almost 130 different dishes, this is the best address in Luxembourg to get a taste of India far from South East Asia. With its floor tiles imported straight from the country known for its vibrant 48 | Issue 28 | April 2016

He adds: “It is important for us to take our customers on a journey, both through the dishes consumed within the restaurant and those ordered for delivery, something we are well-known for.” Following the steps of his father, Patwary took over in early 2006 and since then has been expanding the menu and bringing modern touches to the décor of the restaurant - starting with the addition of LED lights on the large metallic panels found around the restaurant.

This, combined with the large terrace at the back, makes it an ideal address to spend quality time with friends and family this spring. As a strong supporter of charity work in Bangladesh, the restaurant often participates in fund raisers to reach out to those in need. So good food at Royal Belgal also makes for a good heart!

Discover Benelux | A Taste of the Benelux | Best Culinary Experiences

Traditional cuisine in a historical setting TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: AM TIIRMCHEN

Located in the Ilot Gastronomique of the Feschmaart just behind the Grand Ducal Palace, the Am Tiirmschen restaurant offers the best of local delicacies in an architecturally picturesque setting. Discover one of the top addresses in the heart of Luxembourg City. The restaurant is located in the heart of the ‘Ilot’ in a house dating from 1684, renovated in late 1970s with great care in order to preserve the characteristics of its time. Wooden beams and thick stone walls keep the space cool during the warm summer days. In winter, it is the splendid chimney dating from the 1740s that gives the restaurant its warm cosiness. The peculiarity of the restaurant as well as the origin of its name lies in the Spanish

tower, which used to mark the corner of the street up until 1736, proudly displaying the motto ‘Mir wölle bleiwen waat mir sin’ (We want to remain who we are). Am Tiirmschen means ‘in the small tower’, where guests can sit at it unique table. The specialties of the menu are the typical dishes of Luxembourg, some of which are revisited to combine tradition with modernity. “In order to give a choice for every taste, we combine our traditional selection with tartar and carpaccios of fish or Luxemburgish beef. A favorite of local clients is the foie gras seared in Hunnegdrepp – a local alcohol,” explains manager Hilary Porteous. To adapt to modern tastes and needs, the menu à la carte always has two fish options, two seasonal meat selections, as well as at least one fish option for gluten-free and lactose-free diets.

Am Tiirmschen is divided into three main areas, which allow for intimacy or event organisation for family and business occasions. “We can organise private events for 25 people and above, even on days when we would normally be closed,” says Porteous. With a total of 45 seats in the restaurant, there are possibilities to accommodate all types of requests. All in all, an unmissable address for the authenticity of its setting, the quality of its local produce and the delicious Luxembourg and French wine selection to accompany the meal of your choice. So travel in time and taste the best of Luxembourgish cuisine, from Monday to Saturday evenings or Tuesday to Friday lunchtimes, for an unforgettable experience. Issue 28 | April 2016 | 49


Cities in Wallonia This month, we have asked the Union of Cities and Municipalities of Wallonia (UVCW) to tell us more about their organisation as an introduction to our business section. They will explain how the union operates and what they do for its members. Following on from that, we are featuring an article on Braine-l’Alleud, a Walloon city just south of Brussels, which has a riveting history and stunning, natural surroundings. TEXT & PHOTOS: UVCW

The Union of Cities and Municipalities of Wallonia (Union des Villes et Communes de Wallonie, UVCW) is a non-profit association devoted to local authorities in Wallonia: this includes cities and municipalities, Public Centres for Social Welfare, police zones, inter-municipal associations, public housing corporations and emergency zones. Since 1913, it has been representing them and helping them, in thousands of different ways, so they can carry out their missions towards their citizens. It has also been promoting their actions and their autonomy and, through this, the local democracy.

1. Defence, representation, promotion

The Union’s staffs provide a ‘tailor-made’ four-fold service to its members:

Training is of peculiar importance to everyone at local level, and most certainly for

50 | Issue 28 | April 2016

UVCW defends the interests of local actors at regional, communitarian, federal and international level. It shows firm and constructive action with ministers, their cabinets and administrations, and with parliamentarians on all political issues that have an impact on the local level.

2. Consulting support Our advisors are experts in every field related to public service at local level, answering every day to the questions and requests they receive from members from all over Wallonia, which includes German-speaking municipalities. They write news, articles and books and make sure that the information published online and on paper is constantly updated.

3. Training

elected representatives and managing officials, who must manage their municipality at best, taking into account its numerous, complex and constantly changing area of expertise.

4. Information Through its website, its specialised publications, its brochures and books, its periodicals or press contacts, UVCW provides its members with constant and up-to-date information on all aspects of municipal management.

Discover Benelux | Cities of Wallonia | Braine-l’Alleud

A historical town at Belgium’s heart TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: BRAINE L’ALLEUD

Braine-l’Alleud, with nearly 40,000 inhabitants and easy access to Brussels, offers the perfect mix of historical sites, nature and serenity. Discover the place where Napoleon’s dream came to an end and where Victor Hugo found inspiration for some of his greatest novels. Spread over 5,000 hectares, Brainel’Alleud carries the weight of history in some of its key landmarks: “Just like the black box of a plane is orange, the Butte du Lion, a symbol of the battle of Waterloo, is located in Braine-l’Alleud,” Vincent Scourneau MP and mayor tells us. This is the site where Napoleon famously saw his dreams of conquest disintegrate. Every year, millions of visitors from all over the world come here, making it one of Wallon-

ia’s touristic highlights. This also where historical events and activities will take place starting from the Easter holiday onwards. Another site well worth a detour is the farm of Hougoumont, where the combat raged between 8,000 French soldiers and 2,000 Prussian and British troops. “The success of the battle was decided by the closing of the gates at Hougoumont,” the Duke of Wellington is quoted to say. Later, Victor Hugo would dedicate two chapters of his classic Les Misérables to this very farm. As for the church of St Etienne, it played an important role as it hosted the wounded from battle. For days, the three town doctors relentlessly assisted the nuns to look after the soldiers and it is said that the smell was so strong that they had to

break the stained glasses to let fresh air come through. The range of activities Braine-l’Alleud offers is the truly unmissable aspect of this place: history, culture and nature, which is complemented by the availability of delicious restaurants, two of which are starred by the Michelin Guide. There, visitors will be able to taste the local delicacies in charming settings and explore the surrounding entertainment options by day and by night. Let yourself be surprised by everything that Braine-l’Alleud has to offer and come back refreshed and with plenty of historical anecdotes. Issue 28 | April 2016 | 51

Discover Benelux | Business | Rotterdam’s Floating Farm


Cows provide the raw material for the Netherland’s famous cheeses and the protein from their milk has helped the Dutch to grow into the tallest people in the world. Herds have been munching on lush, mineral-rich grass in landbased farms for centuries but change is being mooted. This summer a floating farm, with the potential to revolutionise how milk is produced around the world, will open in Rotterdam.

Peter van Wingerden. Photo: Stuart Forster

52 | Issue 28 | April 2016

Construction of the farm, costing between 2.3 and 2.6 million euros, began at the Merwehaven in November when concrete was poured into caissons by docks that had long been idle. The farm’s opening is planned for June, well ahead of the World Dairy Summit which Rotterdam will host from 16 to 21 October. Delegates will have opportunities to visit the floating farm and see how it functions.

Kingdom). With dairy farmers in some developed nations complaining that milk is being sold too cheaply in supermarkets – making their business unsustainable – is there really a need for a floating farm?

Cows on farms within the European Union’s 28 member states produced 159.6 million tonnes of milk in 2014, an increase of 3.8 per cent on the preceding year. Of that total, 12,473,000 tonnes were collected on dairies within the Netherlands, the EU’s fourth largest producer (after Germany, France and the United

Milk production within the EU is growing but so is the world’s population. By 2050 demographers estimate our planet will be home to more than nine billion people. In some countries food and water resources are already critically stretched. In order to feed an additional 2.5 billion mouths, new food production solutions are re-

Peter van Wingerden, the CEO of Beladon, the company that designed the floating farm, believes the answer is yes.

Discover Benelux | Business | Rotterdam’s Floating Farm

quired. Floating farms could give people in developing nations access to fresh, healthy produce. As Van Wingerden points out, “most of the big cities of the world are adjacent to water”. Water covers approximately 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface, so creating floating buildings will allow cities to expand onto the water rather than further into surrounding countryside. The technological challenge of doing so has, until now, been prohibitive. “If you want to live on the water, even in the ocean, if you want to create whole cities, it’s the same as going into space. There’s no electrical cable over there. There’s no sewerage pipe. There’s nothing,” says Van Wingerden earnestly. “It forces you to deep dive into technology solutions. How do you create energy solutions? How do you create clean drinking water? How do you cope with waste? Where do you get your food from?” he asks rhetorically. He has contemplated these issues and come up with answers. His company designed a floating hotel and a concept for the effective treatment of sewerage. The idea of a floating farm stemmed from that. Producing food helps create a sustainable, environmentally friendly solution.

Transparent materials will enable visitors to observe the farm’s processes. The cows will eat fodder grown below deck. It is anticipated the farm will help educate young people about the origins of food. Worryingly, research published in the UK during 2012 revealed 40 per cent of 16 to 23 year olds did not connect cows with milk production. The milk – along with cream, yoghurt and butter – will be sold locally; marketed by the Rotterdam firm Uit Je Eigen Stad. Along with Courage, which provides agricultural expertise, the company is one of the three key partners in the floating farm venture, which will help cut the food supply chain. “One third of all transport in the Netherlands is food related. Tonnes of food are coming in and tonnes of waste are going out. We want to shorten this, be close to consumers and produce the food, the energy and clean water locally,” explains Van Wingerden. Environmentalists, consumers and food producers will be observing developments at the Merwehaven keenly. They will be hoping the floating farm mo(o)ves the world’s food production forward significantly.

“One of our design themes is to make it circular. Cows produce three things: that is milk, manure and urine. This is not waste. This is food for other stuff. It’s raw materials to create energy or nutrients for the plants,” says Van Wingerden. The farm’s 60 cows will produce around 500,000 kilos of milk a year on the 1,200 square-metre top deck. Their weekly output of 14 tonnes of urine will seep through a membrane floor for distillation into clean water and salts that will be fed to plants. A robot will move around cleaning up the solid waste that will be used to create heat and will be converted into nutrients that will be sold for gardening. The rapid separation of the manure and urine will help minimise ‘country aromas’, something that will, undoubtedly, help the locals breath easily. Issue 28 | April 2016 | 53

Discover Benelux | Business | Columns


Holland, Flanders, Luxemburg, and other surnames TEXT & PHOTO: JOSIAH FISK

We’ve all heard of people whose family names share the names of places. But what does it mean if your surname is a place name instead of, say, an occupation or a personal attribute? It might mean you come from nobility: noble families often took the name of an estate, duchy, or other chunk of geography, and did so as early as the 11th or 12th centuries. But most surnames are not noble, and were assigned much later (in Europe, typically between 1400 and 1800). For years I cheerfully assumed that a geographical surname meant that a forebear had lived in that place. It wasn’t until later that I re-

alised how illogical that was. If everyone in a place were named after that place, it wouldn’t distinguish any Jan or Pierre or Helga from any other. What these names meant was that a person had come from there but gone elsewhere. Being from someplace else is distinguishing. You can even tell, approximately, the extent of the transplantation involved. Town or city names suggest a relatively local move (these names not being familiar or meaningful beyond their own regions). In contrast, country names suggest longer migrations. To be Flemish in Flanders was no distinction, but in England it was. We can see this reflected in the many country-based surnames that exist in languages of other countries: Langlais and Engels for longago English expats, Tedesco and Lallemand for ex-Germans, and of course, Hollande and Flanders.

More in anger than in sorrow I am upset, saddened, concerned, ashamed, angry and baffled by what’s going on in the United Kingdom over Europe at the moment. I’m upset because I’ve spent most of my life living and working in Europe and still believe in the unique, visionary experiment which has brought peace and prosperity to the continent and which, albeit clumsily, anticipates a new model of governance for the 21st century. I’m saddened that Euro-sceptics fail to understand that in today’s globalised world, the alternatives to approaching international relations in a spirit of mutual appreciation and readiness to compromise, are dangerous and unworthy. I’m concerned that British Nimbyism is going to cut the UK adrift from its long-standing alliances and turn its face away from its closest neighbours at a time when Britain, Europe and the West are facing greater threats since the Cuban missile crisis, and need to stand together. 54 | Issue 28 | April 2016

All of these surnames communicate something else as well: the highly circumstantial way in which many surnames came to be. In any particular locale, had the moment for assigning surnames occurred a year or two earlier or later, many of them would have been different, as the characteristic that stood out at the moment would have been different. As for my own surname? It’s Norwegian for ‘fish’, but it’s an English name. What that communicates I couldn’t begin to tell you.

Josiah Fisk is the head of More Carrot LLC, a clear communications company with offices in Boston and Luxembourg.


I’m ashamed that a flawed electoral system can allow a Conservative Party with 36.9 per cent of the popular voice, be obsessively fratricidal on the issue of the EU. And with a membership of a mere 150,000 they can distract the whole of the EU from the rather more urgent issues of impending environmental catastrophe, the threat of terrorism and a new Cold War, the refugee crisis, and growing global poverty and inequality. There is no hiding place from these, inside the EU or out. Above all, I’m baffled that British anti-Europeans should wish to precipitate the breakup of the UK– since Scotland will surely cut loose if Britain decides on Brexit. I’m baffled that they should support the agenda of Brexit fan Vladimir Putin, rather than that of President Obama. I’m baffled that they should ignore the majority of business leaders who say Britain would suffer commercially; of trades unionists who are grateful for the protection of workers that the EU provides; of former chiefs

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, now based in Malta, who helps people develop their communication and leadership skills for working internationally:; www.coachingyork.

of staff who argue that the EU enhances UK security; of the Irish government concerned about how they will cooperate with a by-then dis-United Kingdom over Northern Ireland. And I’m baffled as to how anyone can believe that unilaterally raising the drawbridge against refugees represents Britain at its best.

Discover Benelux | Business | Calendar

Business Calendar TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: NBTC

time-changing market. During this free breakfast seminar, held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Luxembourg, you will learn more the benefits of e-learning.

Mix and match – KvK IT 6 April Doetinchem, the Netherlands With an increase in home shopping, it is best for wholesale companies to invest in stable and strong IT services. This April the Dutch Chamber of Commerce and LEC Liemers are organising a day for you to find out more about the collaboration between wholesalers and IT companies.

Flemish-Dutch trade day 15 April Mechelen, Belgium Are you planning on doing business in Belgium? Or are you already trading with the country? Then you should not miss this event. Focussing on the financial possibilities and investment in the region of Flanders, this day primarily focuses on profiling your enterprise and making it strong within Belgium.

Logistics day 2016 19 April Luxembourg City, Luxembourg How is e-commerce developing in Luxembourg? And what are the opportunities and challenges for your company? Those questions and more will be answered during the annual Logistics Day, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg. Knowing that in 2014 only, e-commerce in Luxembourg increased by 15.4 per cent, and the growth is not showing signs of stopping, this is an industry worth investing in.

After work 28 April Brussels, Belgium Every once in a while the Belgian Enterprises Commerce and Industry organises an interesting After Work Network Event. This is a great opportunity to meet new people, empower your business and enlarge your professional network.

E-learning seminar 20 April Luxembourg City, Luxembourg E-learning has increased over the years, and it appears it is becoming the school of the future. Now is the time for companies to invest in e-learning software to train their staff as well as invest in a Issue 28 | April 2016 | 55

Discover Benelux | Pub of the Month | Luxembourg


A meeting place for all generations TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF | PHOTOS: SCOTT’S PUB

In the heart of Luxembourg City, down in the picturesque, medieval valley that goes by the name ‘Grund’, one can find Scott’s Pub. Since 1985, it has been a meeting place for visitors of all ages and backgrounds and has impressed with a homely and welcoming atmosphere. Luxembourg City’s medieval quarter Grund lies on the banks of the Alzette River. There is no denying that it is one of Luxembourg’s most picturesque areas. Local gems such as Scott’s Pub make it even more special. “Grund is like the hidden valley in town. Once you are in Grund you feel the city stress fading and can relax no matter if you are in suit and tie or just in jeans and a T-shirt,” notes Patrick Topp, who has owned and managed Scott’s Pub for the last 14 years. 56 | Issue 28 | April 2016

Scott’s Pub is a very popular location to going out and mingling with a fun, international crowd of people. Patrick: “We always seek to give people a great experience whether you come to have a good time dancing or you just want to sit and relax with your friends or family. During the day time, we are also a popular spot for families with children.” The pub serves a large variety of beers, whiskies, gins and tasty ciders but there is far more to the place. For example, on the weekends, visitors can enjoy live or chart music, both old and new, played by the pub’s DJs. Furthermore, different events are held throughout the year combined with weekly events such as ‘After Work’ and ‘Ladies Night’. “In April, we will celebrate the opening of our new terrace for example,” adds Patrick.

In winter, guests can enjoy their time at Scott’s next to the open fireplace and indulge in the cosy ambiance, while in the summer, the pub’s spacious sun terrace becomes the spot for many to sip a cold beer during warm evenings. Patrick says: “Sit back, relax and enjoy one of the best terraces in Luxembourg, as well as the views of the River Alzette right in front of you. While being surrounded by quaint, old buildings and the remains of the old castle walls, you feel far away from the noise of traffic and modern life. And you’re only five minutes’ walk from the centre of Luxembourg.”

Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month

| Luxembourg

R E S TA U R A N T O F T H E M O N T H , L U X E M B O U R G

OrientX Kebab Lounge A success story made in Luxembourg TEXT: SONJA IRANI | PHOTOS: ORIENTX KEBAB LOUNGE

Forget all your preconceived ideas about kebabs. Ever since 2009, OrientX Kebab has told a whole different story of the Turkish taste experience right in the middle of Luxembourg City. Try for yourself how the iconic fast food dish can turn into a true culinary experience.

es are made with yoghurt and are thus light and creamy. To finish off your oriental tasting experience, I highly recommend our delicious desserts such as our fruit salads or Baklawa, a sweet Ottoman pastry with nuts that is freshly prepared on a daily basis.”

At OrientX, you will find all kinds of freshly prepared, traditional Turkish dishes, a cool lounge interior and friendly staff. “We are not an average kebab shop that sells ready-made products,” explains Bülent Sen, CEO of OrientX.

OrientX Catering Services also offers a variety of dishes. “You can choose everything from our standard menu, but you can also order individual requests,” assures Sen. “So far, we have catered for many prestigious clients such as various financial institutions.” Plus, for all their regular customers, OrientX also offers a prèt-a-porter collection service: customers call, place an order and can then collect their order without having to wait in line.

He continues: “Instead, we offer freshly prepared, tasty kebabs as well as homemade soups, salads, sauces, wraps, meat dishes and of course falafel to keep our vegetarian customers happy. Our sauc-

The slogan “…my taste” perfectly describes what founder Bülent Sen himself thinks of the Turkish cuisine. “I personally associate Turkish dishes with a great taste and that’s what I would like my customers to realise, too.” As the CEO reveals, new branches in Luxembourg and the Netherlands are already in the planning stage. “One aspect that is really important to us is the location. This has to be a 100 per cent spot on.” For now, the unique Mediterranean tasting experience is certainly one more good reason to make a trip to Luxembourg City. See for yourself what “…my taste” is all about and transform your lunch break or dinner into a true culinary journey to the land of oriental flavours. Issue 28 | April 2016 | 57

Discover Benelux | Culture | Historical Experiences


It was the World Expo 1968 in Brussels that led to the opening of Ooidonk’s Castle to the general public, much to the delight of lovers of cultural heritage sites. Today, the family who lives on these splendid grounds welcomes visitors for six months of the year and is eager to share a world where history and family memories mix within the same walls. Located near Ghent, the first feature that stands out when visiting Ooidonk Castle is the impressive Hispanic-Flemish red-brick

architectural structure that truly makes the castle one of a kind in Belgium. Not to mention that very few castles across the country are both occupied and open to visitors. Since last year, great efforts have been deployed by Count and Countess t’Kint de Roodenbeke to bring a touch of modernity to the interior, keeping the elegance of the furniture and complementing it with thick carpets and a new lighting system. One feels like they are entering a home as opposed to a site belonging to a distant past. Everything here has been done to keep alive the memory of a site made all the more beautiful by its surrounding waters, deep moat and the gentle bends of the nearby river Leie. Featuring what can probably be considered the biggest collection of King Leopold I artifacts, visitors will be able to marvel at a whole spectrum of unique objects, from paintings, furniture, engravings and

58 | Issue 28 | April 2016

busts of the King himself. A visit features rich and lively information on the tapestry, artwork displayed in the castle, the history of the site and the families that have occupied it since its construction in the 13th century. Group visits can be organised on demand from 1 March until 15 October, while individual visitors are welcome from 1 April until 15 September on Sundays and holidays. The castle can also be hired for private events such as weddings, business conferences, team-building sessions, birthdays and more. The Countess herself adds: “Our family is eager to share this beautiful site with others who might also enjoy it.”. So wait no more and make sure to kickstart your spring with a visit to the truly unique site that combines history and a family home in this one majestic castle.

Discover Benelux | Culture | Events & Exclusive Shopping in Belgium

A shopping experience like no other TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: L’ESPLANADE

Conveniently located at the beating heart of Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium’s Walloon Brabant, this shopping address is worth keeping in mind. It offers around 130 brands as well as access to leisure time with friends and family. L’esplanade shopping centre spreads itself along the pedestrian street of Rue Charlemagne and within a luminous mall. Here, different activities and events are organised all year round, with a special set of activities for the Easter holidays. These include ‘gift-fishing’,

where children will have to wear boxing gloves to pick as many gifts as they can – prizes include cinema tickets and, of course, chocolate.

of services and products, the shopping centre truly is a central point of commercial and leisurely activities in the heart of this lively pedestrian city.

“We pride ourselves on being a very cosy and family-friendly space that people enjoy spending time in. Our advantage is the large glass structure all around, which brings a lot of light in throughout the day,” says Alexia Tilgenkamp from L’esplanade.

“It is also very easy to find us coming from outside of Louvain-la-Neuve,” says Tilgenkamp, “our visitors just have to take the E411, take the 8a exit and follow the road. We look forward to welcoming them in this exclusive space.”

With a 13-room cinema, one of the largest bowling halls of the region and a large offering

Nuit des Choeurs: one amazing night – twice! TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: NUIT DES CHOEURS

the Abbey of Villers-la-Ville is beautiful in itself, but the special lighting and the multitude of candles spread over the site make it simply magical. Six diverse vocal groups, from pop to opera, will entertain and move the audience who can also satisfy their gourmet-selves on site too. And it culminates in a massive firework display!” he enthuses. Ultra-modern technology and magnificent music in an ancient Belgian abbey. Benoît Meurens is excited. Super-spectacular event organisers Tour des Sites have more than 600 sound and light shows and similar extravaganzas to their credit across Europe, but their director is confident that August 26 and 27 will see the apotheosis of their art in a 12th century abbey in central Belgium. “Our 2016 edition of Nuit des Choeurs (Night of the Choirs) will be fantastic. The setting of

Since the first edition of Nuit des Choeurs in 2000, the concept has not changed: six stages are spaced around the atmospheric Abbey ruins, each hosting a different vocal ensemble, with three stages in action at any one time and repeated performances throughout the evening. In what is truly a promenade event, the audience can stroll from stage to stage to take them all in. Tickets for the show alone start at 25 euros, though many opt for passes that include refreshments and VIP treatment – with corporate hospitality packages another possibility.

As Meurens concludes: “With acts ranging from Murray Head to the Estonian National Male Choir, it’s going to be one amazing night – twice!” Issue 28 | April 2016 | 59

Discover Benelux | Culture | Events Guide

Rotterdam celebrates post-war reconstruction TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK | PHOTOS: ROTTERDAM CELEBRATES THE CITY!

This year, Rotterdam, one of the most dynamic European cities, celebrates its rise from the ashes 75 years after the devastation of the Second World War. It has managed to secure a vibrant cultural identity, becoming a top festival and events city brimming with a myriad of fun events – especially thanks to the varied programme of Rotterdam Celebrates the City! Though the reconstruction of a city usually implies a purely architectural aspect, the cultural manifestation Rotterdam Celebrates the City! has turned the spotlight on its citizens. Seventy-five personal sto-

ries have become the inspiration for the cultural events taking place throughout the city until the end of summer. Press officer Ingrid Adriaanse shares three unmissable events you should definitely check out this April. Until 10 April, the largest Ferris wheel in Europe, aptly named ‘The View’, will tower over the iconic Markthal providing breath-taking panoramas over the city. The impressive 55-metre-tall wheel counts 42 gondolas. “Just to give you an idea, the Markthal is 40 metres tall,” explains Adriaanse. A cabin for the disabled as well as a luxury VIP cabin with leather seating and walnut wood finishing is also available. Equally of interest is the exposition Head Lights where seven noteworthy, reconstructed post-war buildings will literally be given a face in the form of artwork composed of interactive laser projection and animation. Scheduled until 31 July, not only does this represent some of the stories of the city’s residents, but

60 | Issue 28 | April 2016

it also connects the buildings through various art and light routes which can best be followed during the evenings on foot, by bike or as a children’s route. Adriaanse: “The main attraction of the event is Schouwburgplein’s The New Rotterdammer, a light art object of approximately 15 metres depicting a young citizen and once again giving inhabitants a central role.” Last but not least is the car-free event taking place on 16 April. For the first time in history, one of the fly-overs of Kleinpolderplein, a product of post-war Rotterdam, will be closed off to cars from sunrise to sunset. From here, visitors can enjoy the most stunning views of the Rotterdam skyline. With these and other exciting events, Rotterdam Celebrates the City! acknowledges the magnificent reconstruction of Rotterdam while looking ahead at what the future holds.

Photo: Groninger Museum

Photo: Renee Frinking

Out & About April is the perfect month to venture into the great outdoors again. The Dutch tulip fields are in full bloom, the cycling season is starting again in Belgium and Luxembourg hosts their annual spring fair. So, what are you waiting for? Get on your bike and discover the best of the Benelux, indoors and outdoors. TEXT: ELLA PUT

Photo: Tulip Festival NBTC

Discover Benelux | Culture | Calendar

Photo: Rotterdam Marathon NBTC

Photo: King’s Day NBTC

David Bowie exhibition

Rotterdam Marathon

Until 10 April Groningen, the Netherlands This extraordinary exhibition shows the life and inspiration of David Bowie, recently named one of the most important artist of the 20th century. Over 300 objects including handwritten lyrics, original costumes and set designs will give you a special insight in the world of one of the most creative artists of our time.

10 April Rotterdam, the Netherlands Join top athletes as well as other runners from home and abroad in the port city on the Maas during the annual Rotterdam Marathon. Experience what it is like to cross the finishing line on the legendary Coolsingel. The festivities include one of the biggest and most exciting marathons in the country with several side-events, creating a festival feeling throughout the city.

Tour of Flanders – 100th Race 3 April Bruges, Belgium Get ready for the most important cycling race in Flanders, the Tour of Flanders. Cycling fans from all over the world can look forward to a remarkable edition of the Tour, since this will be the 100th anniversary race through the beautiful Flemish landscape. 62 | Issue 28 | April 2016

Golf Open Door day 10 April Wallonia and Brussels, Belgium Would you like to try the new Olympic sport ahead of Rio 2016 this summer? Head to one of 30 golf clubs in Wallonia and Brussels on the ‘Open Doors’ day to discover golfing. Learn to wield a golf club like a professional, discover

how to use golfing jargon correctly and set up your golfing kit correctly. A crash course will be given by professional players to introduce newcomers to this enticing sport.

A miraculous garden 15 April - 19 September 2016 Ghent, Belgium One of the gardens of the Caermersklooster in Ghent will be beautifully decorated with plants in honour of the legendary Ghent Altarpiece that has captured the eye and imagination of visitors for centuries. The central panel, painted with lush plants and flowers by the Van Eyck brothers, will be recreated in real life. Moreover, a temporary exhibition will answer whether the painted plants have a symbolic meaning, and where the brothers found their inspiration for the sumptuous flora.

Discover Benelux | Culture | Calendar

Tulip Festival 15 April Noordoostpolder, the Netherlands The longest tulip route the Netherlands has to offer can be found in the province of Flevoland, in the Noordoostpolder to be exact. It is the ideal way to combine two Dutch things: a bike ride and hundreds of acres of tulips and windmills as far as the eye can see. The month of April is the great way to discover the stunning landscape during the traditional Tulip Festival.

A taste of Friesland 15-17 and 22-24 April Various locations in Friesland, the Netherlands During these two weekends, the province of Friesland will be filled with typically Frisian activities. Try Skûtsjesilen, see a Friesian horse show, walk along with a torch parade and browse the outdoor markets full of antiques and curiosa. All of this will happen in Friesland’s magnificent surroundings, a great setting for hiking, cycling and boating trips.

Photo: King’s Day NBTC

National Museum Weekend 16 – 24 April The Netherlands Don’t we all love a bargain? The Dutch certainly do, but they love it even more when something is for free. To satiate that need with cultural riches, the National Museum Weekend is an ideal solution for those who want to enjoy culture for free. Almost all museums in Holland will open their doors to the public for free, for tourists and as well as the thrifty Dutch.

Photo: AFG

Photo: King’s Day NBTC

Photo: AFG

Issue 28 | April 2016 | 63

Discover Benelux | Culture | Calendar

Art Brussels

Photo: Marketing Groningen

21 April – 24 April Brussels, Belgium Art Brussels is a true phenomenon. It is one of the oldest art fairs in Europe showcasing contemporary art from galleries from all over the world. The fair will take place in the spectacular landmark, the turn-of-thecentury Tour & Taxis building, situated in the inner city of Brussels.

Ghent Floralies 22 April – 1 May Ghent, Belgium The Ghent Floralies is a dynamic and colourful festival for young and old. With breath-taking floral creations, interactive flower workshops and jaw-dropping plant displays, this will be your new favourite spring festival. It is held at four different locations in the city centre of Ghent.

Luxembourg Spring Fair 23 April – 1 May Luxembourg City, Luxembourg It is time for the annual Luxembourg Spring Fair. In a festive atmosphere 400 professionals will introduce you to the latest wines, table accessories, furniture and garden equipment. This trade fair is dedicated to the public and takes place in a friendly and festive atmosphere.

King’s Day 27 April Zwolle, the Netherlands Kingsday is the Netherlands’ national holiday, and it is celebrated in style. Held on the birthday of King Willem-Alexander, it is a day for the while nation to rejoice and party. Every year the central Kingsday festivities are held in a different city, marked by the visit of the Royal Family. This year, the picturesque city of Zwolle was chosen as the backdrop for this wonderful event. The streets of Zwolle, as well as those of many other towns and cities, will be filled with flea markets, festivals, music and other events. 64 | Issue 28 | April 2016

Photo: King’s Day NBTC

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Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Columns



Push and pull Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens is a little hidden gem in the beautiful Lys region of Belgium. I have written about the museum before and its importance in bringing relevant contemporary art to the public eye and once again they have come up trumps. Following a show by British artist Ryan Gander, this spring D-D brings together Julie Mehretu and Jessica Rankin for a show in the gallery. Being an artist based predominantly in monochrome myself, this show particularly tickles my black and white reductionist fancy. That being said, this is not just a fanboy article. Mehretu and Rankin are two incredibly relevant artists around today, touching upon global ideas with their idiosyncratic methods of working. Mehretu’s canvases and drawings are a cacophony of line, smudge, mark and


smear drawn from city plans, maps and public spaces. Indeed, she cites architecture in general as being a medium of social history – and her works show how metropolitan and ever-moving our world has become. Rankin’s works are less busy – embroidered panels of sheer organza where landscape and language are explored. Her works operate like a mind-map; freely wandering thought and action combine to create an intricate interweaving of thread. Images appear to tumble out of the material, muddled and confused like fleeting memories. These are artists who, through their manipulation of material, and through pushing it as far as it will go (and further), manage to make salient comments on our global surroundings. Julie Mehretu and Jessica Rankin are on show at Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, from 10 April to 12 June.


Julie Mehretu Campaign (letter form, second, 2014), courtesy of the artist and White Cube, London.

Matt Antoniak is a visual artist and writer living and working in Newcastle, UK. He works mainly in painting and drawing and is a founding member of the art collective M I L K.


Jopen Mooie Nel IPA Jopen Mooie Nel IPA, sometimes alternatively known as Northsea IPA, was a gold medal winner at last year’s Dutch Beer Challenge. IPA, an acronym for India Pale Ale, has regained popularity during the craft beer revolution. Historically, the strength and extra hops of this style of ale helped preserve the beer as barrels were transported, by sailing ship, to Britain’s colonies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Dutch also brewed a similar ale. During the 17th century, breweries produced duraebel scheepsbier, which could survive the long sea voyage to the Dutch East Indies. By happy (or should that be hoppy?) coincidence the crisp, fruity finish of this style of beer makes it a good accompaniment to spicy Asian food. It pairs well with Indian curries and the hotter dishes 66 | Issue 28 | April 2016

served during a rijsttafel meal in Indonesian restaurants. This clear ale is burnt gold in colour. It’s floral, hoppy aroma is reminiscent of an English summer ale. The flavour is skilfully balanced between fruitiness and hoppy tartness. It gives way to a dry, bitter but pleasant finish. Mooie Nel IPA should be served cold, at just six degrees Celsius, meaning it’s a refreshing drink. Brewed with American hops, some people may think this beer has too much character to be a session ale. As the days grow longer and temperatures rise, look out for this IPA. It is one of a handful of well-crafted beers from a Haarlem-based brewer based within a former church (the Jopenkerk at Gedempte

Voldersgracht 2). The premises hold a café-restaurant and copper brewing kettles, making it a good spot to pause for a tasting. Brewer: Jopen Strength: 6.5 per cent Stuart Forster was twice named Journalist of the Year at the 2015 and 2016 Holland Press Awards. Five generations of his family have been actively involved in the brewing industry.

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