Discover Benelux, Issue 61, January 2019

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Discover Benelux  |  Contents

Contents JANUARY 2019




Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing Having earned a name for herself starring in one of America’s most talked-about television series last year, rising Dutch actor Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing is making waves on both sides of the Atlantic. We caught up with the 31-yearold Rotterdam native to find out more about her role in the romantic drama series Love Is___. Principled, profound and oozing charisma, we expect even bigger things from her in 2019.



Technology Special: Drone Industry, (Industrial) Robotics, Automation Technology & FinTech Drone imagery, cryptomining and robotics are just a few of the hot topics featured in our special, where we explore some of the most exciting companies in the Benelux region.


A Taste of the Netherlands From sweet treats to world famous cheeses and much, much more, our mouthwatering food and drink special proves there are a whole host of delicious Dutch products for you to enjoy.


Top Flemish Event Planning & Locations Planning an important event? Whatever the occasion, look no further than our selection of companies that can help you organise something unforgettable.


Amsterdam Special This month, we shine a light on some of the Dutch capital’s most unmissable attractions.


Company profiles, regulars and more We look at the month ahead in Benelux business, as well as profiling the companies you need to know about.

Top Architects in the Netherlands Both nationally and internationally, Dutch architects continue to make their mark with their innovative approach to building. We hone in on some of the country’s top architectural agencies.




The World of Pieter Bruegel In 2019 Flanders will be hosting multiple events celebrating the 450th anniversary of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s passing. We explore what the region has in store for art aficionados.

100 2019 Film Guide Need a break from mainstream Hollywood films? We showcase some cinematographic greatness from the Benelux region.

DON’T MISS 6 Fashion Picks  |  8 Desirable Designs 90 Out & About  | 102 Columns

A Taste of the Benelux We present a tasty pick of Belgium and Luxembourg’s top foodie hotspots. Bon appétit!

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Flemish Brewery Guide Who said January had to be dry? Raise a glass to some of the finest breweries in Belgium with our Flemish beer guide.

Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  3

Discover Benelux  |  Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 61, January 2019 Published 11.2018 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Group Print Liquid Graphic Ltd Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Anna Villeleger Copy-editor Karl Batterbee Graphic Designers Audrey Beullier Mercedes Moulia Feature Writer Arne Adriaenssens Contributors Chérine Koubat Eddi Fiegel Ella Put Emma Wesseling

Eva Menger Frank van Lieshout Isa Hemphrey Karin Venema Lorenza Bacino Martin Pilkington Matt Antoniak Michiel Stol Myriam Dijck Pauline Zijdenbos Steve Flinders Stuart Forster Cover Photo © Janey van Ierland Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Katia Sfihi Micha Cornelisse Petra Foster Wout Evers Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3YT United Kingdom

Welcome to 2019. The holiday season - and all the feasting and carousing that goes with it - may be over, but here at Discover Benelux, we are still in a festive mood. This month, we present a mouthwatering ‘Taste of the Netherlands’ special, dedicated to all manner of Dutch delicacies, not to mention a guide to some of Belgium and Luxembourg’s top foodie hotspots and profiles on some of the best Flemish breweries. Gracing our January cover is Dutch actor-and-musician Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing, who has been making a name for herself Stateside as one of the stars of the Oprah Winfrey Network series Love Is___. I caught up with the cultural polymath, who also has a degree in sociology from Erasmus University Rotterdam, and was impressed by how seriously she takes her position as a role model. She told me all about using her platform to help causes she believes in, and feeling a responsibility to tell meaningful stories on screen. Read the interview in full on page 40. This month, there is even more to satisfy your cultural cravings, with an in-depth look at the work of 16th-century Flemish master Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Flanders will be hosting multiple events in honour of 2019 being the 450th anniversary of the artist’s untimely death. Cinephiles will also not want to miss our guide to some of the upcoming Dutch and Belgian films to look out for in 2019. Meanwhile, our cultural calendar on page 90 is brimming with indoor and outdoor events that will tempt you off of the sofa on even the coldest of January days. I wish you a healthy, prosperous new year - and happy reading!

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

Anna Villeleger, 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.

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You are unique

so is your Auping mattress

Every person, each body is dierent. This calls for a tailor-made solution. For freedom of choice. The renewed mattresses by Auping are available in a variety of lengths, types of supports, and levels of comfort. As a result, there is always an Auping mattress that, no matter the bed base you choose, ďŹ ts you perfectly. Get inspired at the Auping store or visit

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks


Accessorise a new look A new year can mean a new look - but that does not have to mean a whole new wardrobe. Instead, jazz up old clothes with a new coat or some fresh accessories, and step into the new year in style. TEXT: ELLA PUT  |  PRESS PHOTOS

DRESS IT UP Inspired by the roaring twenties, this dress by JOSH V will add an extra touch of glitter and glamour to a dull January. Dress: €150

STRIKING STRIDE White leather boots were a main trend for autumn last year and will continue to be in the coming months. These beauties are well worth investing in. €350

SUSTAINABLE CHIC Amsterdam-based watch company Vondel combines Dutch craftsmanship with fair prices. With its minimalist design, this watch feels like an extension of the wrist. €120 6  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks

CITY OF LOVE Inspired by Paris, this outfit combines romantic details, such as lace, with an urban street style. Rock it, own it and wear it with pride. Jumper: €110 Skirt: €110 Bag: €180 Cap: €50

WRAPPED UP IN ELEGANCE Dutch brand Laundry Industry excels in contemporary fashion for both men and women. This elegant coat is a timeless, ready-to-wear piece for the new year. €290

FASHION EDIBLE The designs by up-and-coming creative Mianne de Vries boast a tongue-in-cheek twist and witty detail, such as her STOOK jewellery collection, where she focuses on happy little moments in life, such as the Dutch delight of Stroopwafels. Earrings available from €40 Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  7

Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Desirable Designs


The big five It is nice to daydream about exotic, faraway adventures. Especially while hiding from winter underneath a blanket. Crossing the savanna, spotting the mighty rulers of the animal kingdom in their natural habitat… Yet, having a close encounter with a lion or rhinoceros does not have to be a distant dream. These designs make your interior wild again. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PRESS PHOTOS


1. Animal royalty

3. Lazy leopard Literally translated, the Dutch word for leopard is ‘lazy horse’. Although that might seem like an odd name to refer to one of earth’s fastest creatures, it does describe this woollen predator-rug perfectly. €160



You do not have to be a circus artist to train a lion. With this elegant coat hook on your wall, the king of the beasts will humbly hold your coat for you. €17

4. Thick-skinned wallpaper Let this duo of elephants brighten up your children’s room. They are manually cut out of more than 100 authentic, retro wallpapers and come with ecological glue. Once hung up, they are ready to leave a humongous footprint on your offspring’s dreams. €50 and €60

2. 5.

2. Vegetarian trophy Shooting animals for sport is never okay with us. Therefore, we love this paper rhinoceros building kit. With a little glue, a bit of craftiness and some time on your hands, you can earn yourself a trophy and still be able to say: ‘No animals were harmed in the process’. €29 8  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

5. Safari seat Though many travel agencies offer elephant rides, the odds that you will ever sit on top of a lion or a buffalo are slim to none. Enter the Dutch Design Chair! This cardboard seat can carry up to 200 kilogrammes and comes in a multitude of funky prints. No wonder The New York Times called it a ‘standout creation’. From €22

Looking for a unique business gift? Looking a unique business gift?with Surprisefor your business relations Surprise your business relations with a gift of eternal value: a crystal object. a gift of eternal value: a crystal object. Make it even more personal by having Make it even with moreyour personal by having it engraved company logo itor engraved with your company logo a text. or a text.


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Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Creating Quality of Life

Skyline Rotterdam.


Creating quality of life Dutch architecture is renowned across the globe. From Gerrit Rietveld to Rem Koolhaas, some of the world’s most celebrated architects hail from the Netherlands. Both nationally and internationally, Dutch architects continue to make their mark with their innovative approach to building. In the following pages, we hone in on some of the country’s top architectural agencies. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: NBTC HOLLAND MARKETING

Canal Houses Amsterdam. Photo: Koen Smilde

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Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Creating Quality of Life

View of the Erasmus bridge, Rotterdam.

The Netherlands: a country of architectural gems Pay a visit to any Dutch city and the country’s strong architectural legacy will immediately become apparent. From the capital city, whose canal houses are famous the world over, to avant-garde destinations such as Rotterdam, the architectural highlights are endless. In the latter, you will find architectural gems including OMA Timmerhuis and the Erasmus bridge. Meanwhile, in Utrecht, do not miss Rietveld Schröder House, a 20th century architectural treasure and a UNESCO


world heritage site. Designed by Rietveld, it is globally recognised as the most influential domestic building of the early modern period due to its radical approach to design and the use of space.

The Royal Institute of Dutch Architects The Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA) unites almost 1,200 architectural firms. It is the sole professional association for Dutch architects and stimulates modern, creative entrepreneurship. We spoke to Fred Schoorl, director of the BNA, who told us why Dutch architec-

ture enjoys a world-renowned reputation. “Our architecture has always aimed to enhance the happiness of its users. Dutch people belong to the happiest in the world. Aesthetic, meaningful cities and environments contribute a great deal to that,” he explains. “Dutch architecture has always created a better quality of life, and I think that is something we can be proud of.” For more information, please visit:


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Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Creating Quality of Life

ARCHITECTURAL HOTSPOTS We spoke to NBTC Holland Marketing about the significance of architecture in the Netherlands, and they told us their top five destinations for design aficionados:

homes is now a museum that is open to the public. The residence illustrates how De Stijl influenced both interior and exterior design. On display in the residence are the design drawings of Van Doesburg and works by Thijs and Evert Rinsema in the form of furniture, paintings, and other art expressions, as well as an extensive collection of publications on De Stijl and Dada. Van Doesburg was the founding member of the De Stijl art movement which began in Leiden in 1917.

Schiedam – giant windmills A city famed for its jenever production, made possible by its soaring windmills. Holland and windmills are synonymous, however, Schiedam is home to the world’s tallest windmills. These giants loom above the city; with some reaching 33 metres, only six of the area’s original 20 windmills have survived.

Utrecht – Rietveld Schröder House A 20th century architectural gem and a UNESCO world heritage site. The Rietveld Schröder House is a must for lovers of modern architecture, De Stijl, or just the quirky. Designed by Gerrit Rietveld, one of the founding members of the De Stijl, it became the architectural showpiece of the movement. It is globally recognised as the most influential domestic building of the early modern period due to its radical approach to design and the use of space.

Rotterdam – a contemporary architectural gem

Drachten – Van Doesburg-Rinsema House Drachten is the city in which Theo van Doesburg realised his first big commission, designing colour schemes for a complex of 16 middle-class homes, and one of these

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A city that is home to bold, innovative contemporary architecture including floating pavilions, OMA Timmerhuis and the iconic Erasmus bridge. Wander through the city and you will soon be overwhelmed by some of its unusual buildings. This includes the Kubuswoningen that were built in the 1980s, a a series of unusually shaped homes inspired by the cubism art movement. Another, more recent addition, is the equally stunning Markthal, completed in 2014. The arch of the building houses over 200 apartments and is also beautifully decorated on the inside.

Amsterdam – a historic hub Amsterdam’s canal houses are famous the world over and with good reason. Dating from the Dutch Golden Age, Amsterdam’s oldest houses, with their ornate gabled façades, are a national treasure. Many of these stunning examples of architecture can be found around the city’s 17th century Canal Ring. The Canal Ring is a UNESCOdesignated world heritage site.

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Creating Quality of Life

Team Paul de Vroom + Sputnik: Paul de Vroom, Henk Bultstra and Bert Karel Deuten.

The impressive power of simple design TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: OSSIP VAN DUIVENBODE

Since most of us spend more time in the office than the living room, its design definitely deserves some attention. Architecture firm Team Paul de Vroom + Sputnik have created a tailor-made office for one of their clients where simplicity is key, resulting in a surprisingly qualitative building. By using different levels, smart design and a fully-grown tree, they made a timeless, comfortable and qualitative working hub. Nowadays, an office is more than just a collection of desks in a clinical, white building. More and more companies opt for a homey work environment in which conference rooms and working stations go hand in hand with sofas or even a terrace. In that philosophy, the barbecue distributor Big Green Egg Europe contracted the architects Team Paul de Vroom + Sputnik to 14  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

design their new office in the Netherlands. “Our team saw the light of day in 2014 when Paul de Vroom Architecten and Sputnik Architects merged,” co-founder Henk Bultstra summarises. “We create buildings that are timeless, comfortable and function perfectly. We share a preference for typological thinking, refined architectural details and clear designs. While striving towards simple quality, we don’t get caught up in modern, temporary hypes. We don’t do exclamation mark architecture.”

Colours, shadows and seasons For the headquarters of Big Green Egg, Team Paul de Vroom + Sputnik was in charge from A to Z. “That wasn’t the plan from the start,” co-founder Bert Karel Deuten explains. “Our client had seen some of our previous work. They were very enthusiastic about it and decided to ask us

Building type.

to design their own building. Along the way, they granted us more and more responsibilities, until we were in charge of everything: the architecture, the interior design and even the design of some furniture. This allowed us to create unity throughout the entire project.” From the start, it was a given that the building had to fit the needs of their client like a glove. Besides it being a pleasant and inspiring work environment for the employees,

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Creating Quality of Life

it also had to serve as an attractive spot to welcome potential clients for a demonstration of their products. “That was a difficult task,” Bultstra points out. “The location is in the middle of a business park, surrounded by the soulless, grey buildings you might expect in a place like that. Not exactly an inspiring location to invite your clients to for a barbecue. We solved this problem by turning the building inside out and pointing most windows towards a quiet patio in the centre. The courtyard creates a nice view for the people inside and the building itself shields the people on the patio from the sad neighbourhood. It works both ways.” Central on the square stands an impressive, fully-grown tree that had to be lifted over the building into the patio with a crane. It brings a view, shadows, colours and seasons to this small, shielded biotope.

Team Paul de Vroom + Sputnik Team Paul de Vroom + Sputnik works on national and international projects that vary from housing to offices and other commercial buildings. During their designing process, they communicate with their client through models.

This opens the discussion about the building’s operational aspect without the blurring opinions about aesthetics. This then results in a construction which is logical, budget effective and has a high spatial and architectural value.

Flooded with light Inside the building, the different stories and half floor levels create a feeling of spaciousness and intimacy. “However, it isn’t as complex as it might look,” Bultstra reveals. “The ground floor contains collective areas to work and eat. On the second floor, you find the offices. Only the hall and the patio are built on half floor levels. This way, both the first and second floor feel connected with the courtyard and its tree. The patio-windows are also vital to catch daylight. Unlike what you might expect while seeing the closed façade, the building is flooded with natural light, entering from its core. Team Paul de Vroom + Sputnik even designed tailor-made pieces of furniture. The triangular tables in the open workspace downstairs combine the cosiness of a round table with the easy mergeability of a square one. This way, the hall is suitable for small talks as well as big meetings. In the conference rooms, pull-out furniture in the walls does the trick. By pulling out the right pieces, you transform the room into the perfect spot for a telephone conference, a stand-up talk or a decent sit-down.


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Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Creating Quality of Life

The front elevation showing the main street entrance, with two-metre-deep balconies.

The Henricus school yard.

Modest, explicit and sustainable design TEXT: KARIN VENEMA  |  PHOTOS: LEONARD FÄUSTLE

Henricus, a listed school building from 1953, was originally designed using a special proportional system developed by De Bossche School architectural movement. This was the starting point for Berger Barnett Architects’ contemporary renovation and extension to the school. Henricus comprises two school buildings and a church. The school has adopted an ‘open education’ concept, so the renovation had to provide for this, while being sensitive to the buildings’ listed status. “It was a challenge to reconfigure the building fabric to meet the needs of a modern school,” says Hans Berger, director at Berger Barnett Architects. “It was also important to preserve the monumental qualities from the original architecture.” During the renovation, original features were discovered and restored, while new adaptations and additions were added. The original external ‘cloister’ area is now a glazed internal corridor. It provides transparent, interior routing, connecting new spaces such as the library and general art room. New interventions were made recognisable by means of colour and de16  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

tailing; an abstract design language was developed that differed from – but did not compete with – the existing architecture. This year, Henricus won ‘School Building of the Year’ at the Dutch Architectenweb Awards. The style was described as ‘reticent architecture that builds on the existing in a contemporary way’. The jury called the architecture both modest and explicit: ‘modest, because they show great respect for the existing building. Explicit in their clear choices, such as transforming the cloister into a corridor’. Noord4Us, another recent project by Berger Barnett Architects is a new-build, collective private client development in the north of Amsterdam. It is one of six apartment blocks in a row whose architects worked together to create sustainable solutions. Solar panels, heat and cold storage and triple glazing ensure that the Noord4Us block is energy-neutral. The close-knit community of residents was involved in the building process from the design stage. Offering a variety of apartment sizes, Noord4Us also includes a collectively owned roof garden,

overnight-stay apartment, off-street parking and storage, community room and office space that is rented out to provide a shared income for running costs. Berger adds: “Our work is never boring, every project is different. It can be hard, but it’s always a welcome challenge. It is amazing to see our designs being used, it gives us all a real buzz.” Web:

Noord4Us communual roof garden.

Noord4Us appartment.

September architectuur

Gevel AFAS Live, foto door Ferdy Damman

Woning in Gennep, foto door Jasper Juinen

Trap in Utrecht, foto door Jansje Klazinga en Emmy van Dantzig

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Creating Quality of Life

The Radar tower on Maasvlakte 2, Port of Rotterdam. Photo: Aeroview

Transit architecture: art in the making TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTOS: SYB VAN BREDA & CO

In March 2009 – in the heat of the global financial crisis – Dutch architect Syb van Breda found himself at the start of a new adventure. Focusing on what he was good at, he started his own architectural firm, which now, years later, has become a worldwide go-to resource for transit architecture. “The company that I worked for was deeply affected by the crisis, which forced me to build something from scratch,” van Breda reveals. “Back then, I had already done a large amount of infrastructure and transit projects, so focusing on that niche felt like the right thing to do.” From environment pieces such as bridges to technical collaborations with engineers, what all projects taken on by Syb van Breda & Co have in common is that they resemble machines more so than buildings. 18  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

The main difference between classic and transit architecture is that the former is static, whereas the latter is specially designed to enable movement. Hence, van Breda and his team always work closely together with building companies, right from the very start. In addition, there is the fact that no two bridges are ever the same, as van Breda explains: “Designing buildings is often a case of repeating something that has already been done before – just in a different format. However, a bridge’s mechanism depends entirely on its environment, which means that they always have to be built from scratch.” Syb van Breda & Co is a small, devoted agency with architects coming from various backgrounds, but they all love the challenge of constantly working towards something that is innovative as well as aesthetically satisfying. As bridges are

typically positioned in an open environment, aesthetics play a crucial role in their design. “This is partly why, in the Netherlands, bridges are often referred to as civil works of art,” van Breda adds. A good example of such an artwork is the Fietsbrug (cycling bridge) connecting Katwijk and Oegstgeest. As both communities are seeing more and more new residential projects, a good connection has become essential. The local authorities held a competition amongst architects and designers throughout the country, which Syb van Breda & Co managed to win. “They wanted something visible – a design that could be admired by pedestrians and cyclists from all sides of the water,” reveals van Breda. With that in mind, they came up with a rather mysterious alternative for the clas-

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Creating Quality of Life

sic swing bridge. With a relatively high counterweight, the bridge swings open horizontally rather than vertically, treating those lucky enough to see the bridge move, to a dynamic surprise. Though subtle in design, the bridge proudly rises up from the landscape, following one direct line from either side of the Oude Rijn. Another project rightly showcasing the extraordinary nature of Syb van Breda & Co’s work is the Radartoren (Radar Tower), located on Maasvlakte 2 in the Port of Rotterdam. This quintessentially Dutch object, replacing an outdated version from 1974, is made to house a 70-metre-high

radar installation. As such, the Port of Rotterdam was looking for a design that was both smart and sturdy. Where concrete would have been the easy answer, van Breda was not convinced this was the best option. “For the past 70 years, every single one of these towers has been made out of concrete. I cannot deny that it is indeed a very strong material, but it is too slow to build and above all, extremely heavy in weight. That’s how the idea of a steel radar tower was born.” The new Radartoren is made entirely out of steel plate, with a minimal wall thickness allowing the tower to be impressively

slim and light. As the material is weatherresistant, the tower does not require any conservation and so toxic materials are kept at bay. The same goes for the exterior: the steel that is used only rusts up to a certain extent (a special product called weathering steel), meaning that it will not deteriorate, yet the warm, orangey colour will remain. “This kind of efficiency and originality is what I think makes us stand out most,” van Breda admits, and who are we to disagree?


The cycling bridge connecting Katwijk and Oegstgeest. Animation: Syb van Breda & Co

Jan Waaijerbridge Zoetermeer, connecting two parks over road and rail.

The Radartoren on Maasvlakte 2, Port of Rotterdam.

Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  19

Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Creating Quality of Life

Visitor centre Park Vijversburg. Photo: Iwan Baan

‘Bringing nature, design and technology together’ TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: STUDIO MAKS

“Our urban environments are growing and changing faster than ever before. Especially in the Netherlands, where buildable land is scarce, it is most important to carefully consider how we continue to shape our natural and urban habitats,” says architect Marieke Kums, owner and founder of Studio MAKS. An important part of the studio’s current work focuses on new models for living. “The ideal of the single-family home in the suburbs is no longer a sustainable model: we not only lack the space, but traffic congestion and inefficient use of natural resources make the model increasingly untenable.” For the Westerpark-West area in Amsterdam, Studio MAKS proposes a new type of single family home. “The living areas are large open rooms and all functionalities – like the kitchen, closet space and bathroom - are incorporated in the walls, resulting in a maximum living space with a small footprint, similar to traditional Japanese houses. Balconies are large and have a double height, so that you can really bring nature to your doorstep.” 20  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

Internationally acclaimed Kums is used to working in an international context. Aged 17, she started at Delft University of Technology and finished part of her studies at the MIT in Boston. She worked at the internationally acclaimed offices of OMA/ Koolhaas and SANAA in Tokyo. She always imagined starting her own studio though. In 2010, after several years in Japan, she returned to the Netherlands and founded Studio MAKS. The studio now has ten employees and has completed projects throughout Europe and Asia. This year, Kums is the only Dutch architect on the ‘40 under 40 young emerging architects’ list by the European Centre for Architecture Arts Design and Urban Studies. The design for the visitor centre in Park Vijversburg, in the north of the Netherlands, was recently nominated for the Dutch Building of the Year award and the European Mies award. “We tried to create a subtle and transparent design that gently blends into its vulnerable surroundings. The glass facades not only reflect nature, but also serve as the buil-ding’s main structure. An inventive natural ventilation system contributes to a low energy balance,” explains Kums.

“Architecture can be very exciting. We do not stop designing after the concept stage, but we keep evolving our ideas throughout the design and construction process, bringing nature, design and technology together. That is how you create magic,” she smiles.


Deventer House. Photo: Christian van der Kooy


Discover Benelux  |  Top Architects in the Netherlands  |  Creating Quality of Life

‘You have to conquer the design to make it yours’ TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: WERKPLAATS VAN VLIET

“I can come up with my most beautiful design, but if it doesn’t evoke the right feeling in the user, it will never work. The only thing I can do is use my skills and tools to create something they want,” says Martien van Vliet, architect and owner of Werkplaats van Vliet.

from his past: “I started out as a carpenter and from there I went on to become an architect, designing new buildings as well as doing renovations.” “I am a hands-on architect, really engaging with clients to make sure that I get to a design that not only I like, but the client can make their own. Only then, it becomes the perfect design.”



“Clients have to conquer the design, if you will. That goes for people, and also animals.” This philosophy was the starting point for a unique design Van Vliet created for the Anderstein es-

tate in Maarsbergen: a new habitat for a barn owl that resided there. “I came up with a fauna folly made from the bricks of an old barn. It was an apartment complex for the owl, and other birds and animals too,” continues Van Vliet. “I purposely designed it to be a high tower, so that it would be visible from the entire estate and in keeping with the existing sight lines of the environment.” “I prefer to work with wood as well. It is extremely sustainable and it is easy to work with on site.” His love of wood also stems

BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE, WITH RESPECT FOR THE PAST Architect Diederik Six designs with historical awareness and is motived to create sustainable living environments. For 25 years, the Six team have been at the top of their field. With extensive knowledge of restoration, the agency embraces craftsmanship. In addition to the restoration of castles and country estates, Six distinguishes itself with traditional new builds. In keeping with the historical context, Six Architects realises tailor-made projects and creates timeless homes. Would you like to be inspired by a rich history and craftsmanship combined with modern comfort? You are more than welcome to discuss your building plans at Doornveld House, our lovely office. Jhr. Ir. D.L. Six





Discover Benelux  |  Special Theme  |  Technology



The Benelux’s technology gurus Drone imagery, cryptomining and robotics are just a few of the hot topics featured in our special, where we explore some of the most exciting companies in the Benelux region. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS


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Discover Benelux  |  Special Theme  |  Technology

The technology industry is evolving at a dazzling pace. Every new invention opens doors for many other ones, feeding the unstoppable snowball of progression. Most of these innovations do not quite live up to the expectations and get forgotten before they are even introduced. Yet, revolutionary technologies like drones and industrial automation have managed to earn an important spot in our modern society. The history of automated factories started in the 1760s when the invention of the steam engine heralded the industrial revolution. The shift from manual labour to an engine-based industry has put the production sector on a fast track and opened the gates to our modern lifestyle. A second innovative wave kicked in in the early 20th century, when mass production became the standard. Mammoth plants with assembly lines allowed us to produce the same products faster, cheaper and on a bigger scale than ever before. Nonetheless, even before the end of the century, the third industrial era started. One with iron arms and automated machines. Today, just a couple of decades later, we are on the brink of a fourth revolution: smart robotics, or Industry 4.0. We want robots that can do more than just move. We want them to think, anticipate and communicate with each other. The


Benelux’s technology gurus foresaw this trend years ago and started inventing what was then considered to be science-fiction. By using modern displays, 3D-cameras, artificial intelligence and many other futuristic modifications, they now show the rest of the world where the sector is heading to.

For specialists and hobbyists The same futureproof mindset can be found in the drone industry. Though, years ago, the world looked at unmanned aerial vehicles as if they were toys, some prophets in the low countries recognised their potential immediately. Today, the enPick-it.

tire world eagerly uses drones in the fields of cinema, surveying, archaeology, climate research, construction, wildlife protection and many others. Alongside them, hobbyists use the small planes to empty their minds after a long week of work. Whatever the case, the Benelux is the perfect place to get acquainted with drones and find your ideal partner in crime. Not only do they produce top-notch drones themselves, but they also teach you how to fly them, help you to implant them in your business or let you play challenging games with them. Welcome to the 21st century. FANUC.

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Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Drone Industry, (Industrial) Robotics & Automation Technology  |  When Only The Best Will Do

Meet the Flemish drone, robotics and automation pioneers who have what it takes to conquer the future.



Read more from page 26 FANUC is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of industrial robots. Visionary as they are, Industry 4.0 has already started for them.

Read more from page 28 Pick-it changes the automation industry by giving robots the gift of sight. Their smart 3D-cameras are even popular among big players like Apple and BMW.


Aerial Intelligence

Read more from page 30 By playing fun and challenging games, Dronefun organises entertaining team-building activities with drones. They teach you to fly them from scratch, so experience is not necessary.

Read more from page 32 Drones can do more than just shooting nice snapshots. Aerial Intelligence uses this technology to do fast, safe and incredibly accurate aerial inspections and mapping.



Read more from page 33 In just over two years, the Belgian automation company Sedacta has become a force to be reckoned with. As a specialist in the field of motion control, they combine fast movement with great precision.

Read more from page 33 With his background in aviation, Michael Maes of EuroUSC-Benelux knows the ins and outs of air traffic. Today, his firm helps businesses to get their drone-aspirations off the ground.

24  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

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Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Drone Industry, (Industrial) Robotics & Automation Technology  |  When Only The Best Will Do

Ribus: “By connecting all FANUC products to a local network, we can collect real-time data on a clear interface.”

The yellow road to innovation TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: FANUC

To top the charts in the field of robotics, you must be innovative and visionary. In its more-than-60-year existence, the automation-giant FANUC has proved it has what it takes to change the production industry. With their constantly improving product line, they welcome companies from all corners of the world into the 21st century. The Japanese multinational FANUC has been in global pole position in its field for over half a century. By offering more than 100 different robotic arms and a multitude of other, state-of-the-art automation products, they assist thousands of businesses worldwide on their road to suc26  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

cess. With regional seats in 108 countries, they combine the advantages of a steady world player and a personal, local business. “We also never stop focusing on the future,” states Paul Ribus, managing director of the company’s Benelux branch, revealing their recipe for success. “We offer our clients factory installations which are ready for tomorrow as well as the day after tomorrow. We work with some of the best engineers in the world who aren’t afraid to think outside of the box and question their own work.” This eye for detail and hunger for innovation is as old as the company itself. FANUC’s founding in 1956 preceded the automation revolution by over a decade.

Long before the so-called ‘industry 3.0’ took over factories worldwide, their headquarters at the foot of Mount Fuji already produced advanced robots. This made them a trustworthy partner for the early believers of industrial automation.

Paul Ribus.

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Drone Industry, (Industrial) Robotics & Automation Technology  |  When Only The Best Will Do

Futureproof Today, the automation industry is once again on the brink of a new era. Industry 4.0 will soon kick in and traditional robots will have to make room for smart, interconnected automation technology. FANUC already offers these advanced technologies today. “Our clients want to have access to production and performance statistics at all times and places,” Ribus explains. “By connecting all FANUC products to a local network and collecting their data on a central server, we can present real-time data on a modern and clear interface to our users. Our main purpose is to create easy-to-use software that, nonetheless, is equipped with many advanced functions. Operators can use these displays to control the production line and tackle problems as soon as - or even before - they occur.” The software even helps you construct the most economical maintenance planning based on the rhythm of the production, the productivity of it and the machine health. This reduces the downtime of the factory to an absolute minimum, letting the investment in this digitalisation pay itself back in no time. Scara Robot.

Of course, the future of robotics is not built on software alone. The installations themselves must constantly improve too, in order to remain futureproof. “We never settle with what we have. We keep redesigning our robots to make them faster, stronger and more intelligent. Their energy usage is already very low today, yet, we continue making them even more sustainable. Of course, we also aim to reduce our production costs. This way, we offer high-end machines for a very competitive price.” FANUC’s most powerful model, the M2000, is a great example of what the robot manufacturer is capable of. The mechanical arm can easily lift up to 2,300 kilogrammes. That is more than the weight of an SUV.

than ever. Even non-engineers are able to use, interpret and program them. This way, start-ups and small businesses can invest in robotics without having to enlarge their budget for human resources as well.” That does not mean that the introduction of robotics in a firm automatically jeopardises the jobs of its workers. “In many cases, our products even create new openings,” Ribus explains. “In most cases, robots don’t replace workers but help them do their job better and more effectively. This will stimulate the growth of the company which, in the end, will create new functions to be filled in.” Web:

For non-engineers Yet, FANUC is not just a supplier for big multinationals. More and more mediumsized and small companies invest in automation technology to strengthen their position in the market and compete with the big players in the field. “Smart robotics will enable smaller firms to explore its possibilities. The comprehensible interface on which our users see the data extracted from the machines is easier

FANUC’s headquarters at the foot of Mount Fuji.

FANUC’s wide range of product groups.

The M2000 (right) can easily lift up to 2,300 kilograms.

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Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Drone Industry, (Industrial) Robotics & Automation Technology  |  When Only The Best Will Do

As visionary as vision can be TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: PICK-IT

Industrial automation has already taken giant steps since the first robotic arms entered factories. Today, the Flemish start-up Pick-it, pushes the boundaries of the possible by giving these robots eyes, letting them look and anticipate on the situation. Billiondollar businesses like Apple and BMW are fans. Automation is inevitable. In production lines worldwide, human hands are replaced by the firm, metal grip of robots. Yet, we should not fear this evolution, but rather look at it as a step towards the future. The Flemish start-up Pick-it embraces this tendency and explores the many opportunities that come with it. By giving robotic arms eyes, they meta28  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

morphose the production industry as we know it. “Half of the robots that are sold are used to pick up something and place it somewhere else,” Pick-it CEO Peter Soetens explains. “To do this with ‘blind robots’, the pieces must be on the exact same spot for the system to function. The moment you give a robot eyes, it can trace the object by itself, diminishing the chance of errors on the production line.”

“AI is not that scary” With its modest size, the Pick-it camera does not look like the powerful feat of engineering that it is. Yet, its compact design is one of its many strengths. “Our product is a plug-and-play device. You can easily attach it to any robot arm you prefer or already have. With it, comes a processor

on which all necessary software is preinstalled. It doesn’t take an engineer’s eye to get started.” For the machine to learn which items to pick up, it relies on two of the biggest technical innovations of the last decade: 3D cameras and artificial intelligence. The Pick-it need only see an object once before the artificial intelligence can recognise it out of a bunch of other objects. CAD-files and mathematical formulas are no longer required. This application of artificial intelligence is light years away from the popularly fictionalised doom scenarios of robots becoming autonomous and taking over the planet. “To everybody who fears artificial intelligence: it isn’t as scary as you might think,” Soetens stresses. “AI is a revolu-

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Drone Industry, (Industrial) Robotics & Automation Technology  |  When Only The Best Will Do

tionary technology in pattern recognition. It allows computers to distinguish patterns by the means of millions of reference points. During the last decade, this technology has become very trustworthy, allowing us to use it in self-driving cars and our Pick-it camera.” The optimal collaboration between the camera and the software relies on two factors: the image must be sharp, and the object fully showed. Unfortunately, therein lies a paradox. “The wider we make the image, the more quality we lose. We therefore came up with three different models to adapt to each situation.” The Pick-it L specialises in recognising big items from a larger distance, while the Pick-it M deals with mediumsized products from up close. Their latest addition, the Pick-it M-HD, is suited for medium-sized as well as smaller products since its high-definition camera records a sharper image from a distance. “Though this option is a bit more expensive, it is very popular. Many companies

prefer investing in the most future-proof solution.”

“Talent beats seniority” While rooted in the Flemish city of Leuven, Pick-it is half a world removed from Silicon Valley. Yet, that does not seem to bother Soetens. “The Benelux might not be the epicentre of production companies today, but robotics is an international sector. We export beyond borders without compromising our customer service.” That, they prove, by having big players like Apple, BMW and Volkswagen in their client base. Yet, the Pick-it technology is also suited for smaller companies. “You don’t need to be an engineer to work with Pick-it. We provide the easiest-to-use system on the market. Nonetheless, we keep improving and simplifying our products to make them even more accessible. Smaller businesses need to catch up with the big boys if they want to compete with growing markets like China. Accessible robotics might be able to help them with it.”

Due to its major growth in just two years, the international business world has high hopes for Pick-it. That, however, does not daunt Soetens. “The only thing a fast-growing company like ours has to fear is that the growth will stop. The only way to prevent this is to work with the best people in the business. Talent beats seniority on this one. I prefer working with highly talented, younger people, rather than hiring staff solely based on their track record.” Their human resources are Pick-it’s main assets. Though they produce a state-of-the-art automation product, their cameras are still 100 per cent assembled by hand. “To guarantee exquisite quality, we produce everything manually. Yet, if we develop our Pick-it even more, we will soon be able to produce equally qualitative products in a partially automated factory.”



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Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Drone Industry, (Industrial) Robotics & Automation Technology  |  When Only The Best Will Do


Is navigating a drone on your to-do list for 2019? Then perhaps you and your colleagues can make your first flight during a Dronefun team-building session. By playing challenging and whimsical games in teams, you become a first-class pilot in no time. After having had full and challenging careers in IT and science, Gino De Wachter and his wife Nancy were ready for a new adventure. Driven by a shared passion for technology, they founded Dronefun, organising chipper, informal teambuilding activities with drones. “Drones are incredibly fun to work with,” De Wachter explains. “I first flew one about four years ago. There wasn’t even a Belgian legis30  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

lation about them yet. It was love at first sight for me. I am no pilot and I have never aspired to be one, yet the feeling of controlling a flying object myself attracted me a lot.” This joy they want to share with the world by organising team-building exercises for companies and offering initiations at big events like Comic Con and SuperNova: not by boring or confusing their audiences with long lectures and explanations, but in a fun and hands-on way. “We start every session with five minutes of initiation. Afterwards, the participants are ready for take-off. In teams, we let them try their luck on an obstacle course, race against each other and play with

drone cameras. In one of our more absurd games, they even have to deliver as many pizzas as possible in a limited time.”

In conference rooms or on the tarmac Because of this fun approach, anyone can participate – whether they believe that themselves or not! “People often tell us: ‘I can’t do this’. Yet, several minutes later, their drone takes off and the fun starts. In general, nearly everybody gets the hang of it within five to 15 minutes. We keep our sessions accessible for everybody.” That also allows non-tech-companies to hire Dronefun. Furniture designers, bank clerks, nurses… all of them have tried and achieved flying a drone and partici-

Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Drone Industry, (Industrial) Robotics & Automation Technology  |  When Only The Best Will Do

pating in the challenges. “We don’t make it very competitive. It is more about cooperation than about rivalry. The team usually takes good care of each other. Besides, they are allowed to fail. We work with light and flexible drones who can take one or two hits, but sometimes they do break. For us, that is normal, and therefore not a problem. We have hundreds of drones because we know that by playing with them, occasionally one or two might crack.”

course, fly a drone. The most important thing is that the games are challenging and stimulate colleagues to work together. Technology is something you must explore rather than watch or read about. Often, participants come to thank us afterwards because we finally made them understand why their children or grandchildren love gaming so much. That’s what motivates us. We challenge people to do things they don’t believe they’re able to do: yet, everyone tries it, does it and likes it!”


Since their concept is unique in the Benelux, many companies have hired Dronefun for a day of team-building. In just a few years, over 10,000 people have had their first drone experience during one of Gino and Nancy’s workshops. “There are many drone-orientated businesses on the market, yet we are one of the few who use them in a recreative and social context.” Since the workshops always take place on location, their clients are spread out over all of Belgium, the Netherlands or even further. “We ask the companies to provide a place for our session. Because of the Belgian weather, it must be inside, preferably somewhere with a ceiling that is at least four metres high. The necessary size of the room, of course, depends on how many participants we have. Sometimes we have 30 people, the next time over 100. We often do it in conference rooms or gyms, and we have also done it in old churches, castles and showrooms of car-dealers. When we did a workshop for the staff of Brussels Airlines, we even did it in the airplane maintenance shelter on the tarmac of the airport. To fly with our drones between those enormous airbuses felt really amazing.”

Segways and robots Since their technological fascination has surpassed even the field of drones, De Wachter and his wife have now extended their business and founded Tech4Fun, doing workshops with other futuristic gadgets as well. “During our Tech4Fun-challenge, the participants get acquainted with a broad variety of advanced technology. They game in virtual reality, use mini Segways, become best friends with a couple of robots and, of Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  31

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Showing every detail, from every side TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: AERIAL INTELLIGENCE

It used to be all about cool pictures and videos, but people are starting to see the additional potential of drone imagery; using it for fast, safe and extremely accurate aerial inspections and mapping. Experts Erik Peiren and Ben van Hool of Aerial Intelligence provide drone services which make full use of this somewhat hidden potential. “We can show every detail, from every angle and every side,” says Peiren. Peiren is a Class I licensed UAV pilot and has been using the power of drone imagery for years in post-production work at High Flying Birds, a firm that works for television, adverts, music videos and live shows

for bands and artists such as Tiësto and David Guetta. Aerial videos were also a part of that work, but together with partner Ben van Hool, Peiren decided to start Aerial Intelligence in Schilde, near Antwerp, and fully focus on inspections and mapping. “We don’t just provide the imagery, with the data we create 3D models and provide detailed reports and analysis when required,” Peiren continues. And thanks to the use of geotagging and smart Cloud solutions, regular inspections of a site provide a visual timeline of the development of the area.

of large buildings and sites in the construction industry. “A lot of our operations we fly for insurance companies, particularly when it comes to storm damage. We can inspect large areas much more quickly and accurately than any inspector could ever do,” Peiren explains. The inspections are so detailed, that 3D models of buildings boast sub-centimetre accuracy. “It provides irrefutable data, something that is important in the insurance industry. And it is a lot safer, because they do not have to send inspectors onto the roof anymore.”

Fast, safe and accurate inspections

Although the (commercial) use of drones is highly regulated – in Belgium, drone pilots must meet the same requirements as helicopter pilots, including mandatory physical tests – Aerial Intelligence is fully licensed in the country and can fly nearly everywhere. “We are working with partners in our neighbouring countries to fly the missions there, because every country has its own legislation,” Peiren elaborates.

Aerial Intelligence performs mapping flights for the agricultural industry and inspections

“People often do not grasp the power of data. With our drone solutions, we visualise the data we collect, to help our clients stay safe and help them in their daily operations.” Web:

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Discover Benelux  |  Flemish Drone Industry, (Industrial) Robotics & Automation Technology  |  When Only The Best Will Do

Welcome to the future: industrial automation and motion control


In just over two years, Belgium firm Sedacta has managed to manifest itself as a true expert in all things motion control. Previously working for the automation department of a much larger firm, operating under a new name has allowed founder Thomas Mortier and his two partners to fully focus on industrial automation. As a member of the Valtech Group, they now work with clients across various industries, from countries all over the world. “Offering complete solutions is our strength,” Mortier tells us. “Collectively, our team of engineers offers a wide variety of disciplines, whether it’s for local projects or global installations. In addition, we take pride in our client-focused approach. If a client comes to us with a particular challenge, we’ll go above and beyond to reveal the roots of the issue, using our expert insights to provide informed, sustainable solutions.” As a big player in the field of motion control, Sedacta combines fast movements with highly

accurate positioning, which can then be used for feeding U-beams and sheet metal, as well as other materials such as wood panels and latex foam. “Accurate positioning, high accelerations and fast reaction times are what we know best,” Mortier admits. As such, their client base mostly includes companies in the automotive (Volvo Trucks, MAN, DAF) and transformer (ABB, Siemens) industries, as well as firms specialised in perforating sheet metal (Armstrong, RMIG, Arcelor Mittal). As experts in the automation industry, Sedacta has also been increasingly active in different fields of the production process. “We are driven by value-creating technology,” says Mortier. Through the integration of Industry 4.0, robotics and vision technology, we help our customers evolve into smart factories of the future. Get in touch via to find out more.

Sedacta is active in various fields of the production process


Where tradition meets novelty TEXT: EVA MENGER  |  PHOTO: NELE VANDENPUT

Michael Maes had already had a long career in aviation when he stumbled upon a television report on drones. He promptly decided to apply for a job within the drone industry and after several experiences, he was given the opportunity to start as director of EuroUSC-Benelux, managing RPAS accreditation services for drone operators, flight schools and manufacturers in the Benelux. Maes: “What fascinated me most about drones was the novelty of it. Suddenly, aircrafts were built in response to demand from all kinds of industries, from governmental institutions to individuals wanting to use it for recreational purposes. At that early stage, I felt that my background in traditional aviation could add significant value.” To date, the firm’s biggest challenge by far has been integrating drones into society. “People are still very sceptical towards the fact

that it concerns an unmanned aircraft,” Maes explains. “Pilots don’t like the idea of drones interfering with their work environment, and the lack of evidence around drone safety is enough to put people off.” That said, the demand for professional drone services is rising steeply, with more and more industries looking to improve their efficiency through the use of drones. Focusing mostly on pilot competencies and drone assessments, EuroUSC-Benelux is the go-to place for businesses looking to get involved with drones. “EuroUSC was on the cradle of regulating the industry, creating opportunities for companies on the safe use of drones, while also helping police forces and fire services, who are increasingly using drones for assistance and things like crowd control,” Maes tells us. But no industry is welcoming the drone business as eagerly as unmanned traffic management, ultimately promoting an integrated drone future. “AirSure, our latest application,

adds value by offering safe and reliable services for authority, operators and (un)manned navigation service providers alike,” says Maes.

Assessing a drone equipped with transponder.

Want to know more? Get in touch with the EuroUSC-Benelux team via


Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  33

Discover Benelux  |  Top Drone Manufacturers, Service Providers & FinTech  |  Companies To Watch in 2019

These visionary companies are making an impact in industries such as drone manufacturing and FinTech.


Belgian Drone School

Read more from page 35 Since launching in 2008, Brussels-based firm AltiGator has established itself as one of the most important European designers and manufacturers of professional drones.

Read more from page 36 Belgian Drone School is one of Belgium’s top training academies and prides itself on the fact that its instructors are all professional pilots and leaders in their field.

Drone Provide Read more from page 37 Based in Luxembourg, but with a client base which stretches from Europe and the Middle East to South America and Africa, Drone Provide has become the go-to drone source for a huge variety of industries.



Read more from page 37 Ebury was formed in 2009 to offer SMEs and mid corporations a smooth and highly efficient system of international payments, currency exchange and risk management strategies at more competitive rates than banks.

Read more from page 38 Founded in May 2017, Metz-based company Just-Mining has been making waves around the world with a pioneering new approach to virtual currency.

34  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

Discover Benelux  |  Top Drone Manufacturers, Service Providers & FinTech  |  Companies To Watch in 2019

World-renowned drones, made in the Benelux TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: ALTIGATOR

Since launching in 2008, Brusselsbased firm AltiGator has established itself as one of the most important European designers and manufacturers of professional drones. As the company celebrates its tenth anniversary, we decided to find out more about its innovative LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) solution - OnyxScan. Established by a visionary team of early multirotor enthusiasts, AltiGator is renowned for its efficient, reliable and tailored drones. The company is also a global integrated solutions provider for demanding applications, such as GIS sciences, agronomics, security and surveillance, instrument landing system (ILS) checks, and many others. Impressed by AltiGator’s expertise, as well as the precision and technologically advanced features of its drones, numerous organisations worldwide rely on the company’s systems for their professional activities, such as universities, civil security agencies and topographers.

Pioneering research Comprising engineers, developers, topographers, drone pilots and instructors,

AltiGator’s passionate and skilled team of specialists are involved in research and development (R&D) to ensure the company always offers enhanced functionalities, in addition to improving the efficiency, reliability and sustainability of the brand’s versatile systems. AltiGator’s range of drones, registered under the OnyxStar brand, is already certified by several civil aviation authorities. The company is committed to delivering the highest level of responsive support, as well as meeting European standard requirements. “Listening, sustainability and responsible customer support are core values of our philosophy,” explains business development director Caroline Leonard.

OnyxScan, a unique ‘off-road’ LiDAR solution Having analysed users’ operational needs, AltiGator’s R&D team released OnyxScan, a ‘made in Belgium’ LiDAR solution for aerial scanning. LiDAR is a remote sensing method that measures distance to a target by illuminating it with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected echos. This technique produces georeferenced point clouds, making it possible to create digital 3D representations of the area

scanned. Highly automated, ultra-light and user-friendly, OnyxScan can collect 3D data in challenging environments. Designed to meet surveyors’ requirements, OnyxScan LiDAR can be described as an ‘all-in-one solution’. It comes up with powerful and intuitive flight planning and post-processing software in order to collect and generate data easily, leaving professionals free to focus on their expertise. With a total take-off weight of 5.6 kilogrammes, including the UAV, its battery and the entire laser scanner equipment, the OnyxScan system can be transported in a small case. This makes it the ideal solution for numerous tasks such as mapping, environmental surveys and mining monitoring. For more information, contact: Caroline Leonard, business development director at AltiGator Tel: +32 497 502 349


Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  35

Discover Benelux  |  Top Drone Manufacturers, Service Providers & FinTech  |  Companies To Watch in 2019

Stéphane on a mission in the desert.

Matthieu (left) and Stéphane (right), co-owners of Belgian Drone School and DeltaCopter.


Training Belgium’s top drone pilots TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: BELGIAN DRONE SCHOOL

From real estate and railways to the construction and customs industries, drones are becoming the buzzword of the day and the need for drone pilots has never been greater. Belgian Drone School is one of Belgium’s top training academies and prides itself on the fact that its instructors are all professional pilots and leaders in their field. The school is co-owned by Matthieu Gerard and Stéphane Tilmant, both renowned drone pilots who are regularly called upon by top European companies. As Gerard explains, his aim with the school is to share his own expertise and experience with the next generation of pilots and hire other teachers who are similarly qualified to do the same: “I started flying drones several years ago, but I quickly realised that it was actually hard to find really first-rate professionals either in Belgium or elsewhere in Europe. That is why all our instructors are experts in the drone business themselves and active pilots in my sister company, DeltaCopter, which carries out industrial inspections with drones in highly sensitive conditions. They all have something special to share 36  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

with the students and can bring the benefit of their own experience.” Courses can take anything between one month and one year, depending on how fast the pupils learn. Belgium also has some of the most rigorous accreditation exams in Europe and is one of the only countries which requires students to pass two exams in order to gain a drone piloting license. However, this process ensures that Belgian pilots are immensely well qualified. As the exams are divided into two parts, theory and practice, the coursework at Belgian Drone School is similarly split. The

Matthieu at Total inspecting oil tanks seals.

theory gives students a thorough grounding in Belgian legislation, meteorology, aviation communications and the physiological aspects of drone piloting. The practical part, meanwhile, involves learning to fly drones in the field and learning figures and manoeuvres until students reach the required standard as determined by independently appointed examiners. “My aim is for Belgian Drone School to become the best school in Belgium, and I think that’s something we can definitely achieve,” concludes Gerard. Web:

Stéphane training a student at Belgian Drone School.

Discover Benelux  |  Top Drone Manufacturers, Service Providers & FinTech  |  Companies To Watch in 2019

Drones – the shape of the future TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: DRONE PROVIDE

If you think drones are just for specialist enthusiasts, think again. Just as mobile phones started off as the preserve of a small elite before going on to become the universal norm, drone technology looks set to go the same way. “The drone industry is really just at the start of its life cycle,” says Alain Maveau, co-founder and CEO of Drone Provide, one of the world’s foremost providers of drones. Based in Luxembourg, but with a client base which stretches from Europe and the Middle East to South America and Africa, the company has become the go-to drone source for a huge variety of industries. For governments and police departments, Drone Provide assist with border control, homeland security and rescue services and the applications are no less varied when it comes to industrial applications. From land

surveys to pipeline, power line, petrochemical and wind turbine inspections, drones offer impressively high levels of accuracy. The various models of commercial drones are equipped with a range of sensors such as standard cameras or laser scanners, and can not only gather data much faster than traditional methods, but at a fraction of the cost. “A perfect example is land surveys,” says Maveau. “At the moment, land surveyors have GPS based tripods but it takes a lot of time to measure countries. With drones, what would normally take a week, can be done in a day, so we have a lot of demand from all over the world. It’s a kind of revolution, and it will be with us within ten years.” Web: TOP: AIR8 LIDAR DRONE. MIDDLE: ATLAS C4EYE ISR. BOTTOM: BRAMOR C4EYE ISR.

Ebury: financial services for the modern world TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: EBURY

It is a truism that if you are running a business, the more successful you become, the more potentially complicated your finances can become too. Banks have always supported large corporations when it comes to international payment operations, but for many small or medium-sized business, accessing these kinds of services has historically been much more difficult. With this in mind, the now hugely successful Ebury was formed in 2009 by two London-based financial executives. The idea was to offer SMEs and mid corporations a smooth and highly efficient system of international payments, currency exchange and risk management strategies at more competitive rates than banks. The concept proved so successful that Ebury now has more than 800 staff in 22 countries around the world from Dubai to Hong Kong and from London to Brussels.

Ebury’s 28,000 clients around the world come from a range of different sectors, including charities and NGOs, the shipping industry, insurance, travel, payroll providers and online sellers. But although Ebury may be expanding globally, providing a quality personal service is still central to the company’s philosophy. All clients are assigned a personal account manager who remains their key contact throughout their dealings, ensuring they benefit from the company’s knowledge and expertise. Ebury is also equipped with special licenses which mean that regardless of potential Brexit issues, they will be able to continue working seamlessly, providing top-level services on their clients’ behalf across European and international borders.

Guillaume Giovannoni.


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Discover Benelux  |  Top Drone Manufacturers, Service Providers & FinTech  |  Companies To Watch in 2019

Making cryptocurrency accessible to all TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: JUST-MINING

Founded in May 2017, Metz-based company Just-Mining has been making waves around the world with a pioneering new approach to virtual currency. Founded by YouTube sensation Owen Simonin, the firm offers an accessible broker service for companies or individuals investing in cryptocurrency. “I had the idea while studying at EDHEC Business School,” begins Simonin, whose passion for cryptocurrency is palpable. “I became fascinated by this innovative new way to invest, which is completely decentralised and revolutionary.” After making a series of videos on cryptocurrency investment for his YouTube channel, Simonin realised there was a thirst from the public for a service such as Just-Mining. Following a hugely successful crowd-funding campaign, with 100,000 euros being raised in a matter of days, Just-Mining was born. As the French leader in the field, JustMining boasts clients across 96 countries and offers a committed 24/7 service. While some investors may initially be put 38  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

off by the complexity of virtual currency, Simonin and his team are all about educating their clients, who they refer to as ‘partners’. “We accompany people of all ages who have money to invest and want to join the cryptocurrency revolution. We always explain how things work from A to Z, to ensure our clients fully understand.” In addition to offering investment advice, Just-Mining have developed the first plug-and-play graphic-card mining machines. “They have been designed to allow users to mine without any technical skill or effort,” reveals Simonin. “Artificial Intelligence has been incorporated into the software to allow the machines to automatically mine the most profitable currency in real time, without the physical intervention of the customer.” The machines, called ‘BOBs’, are able to mine on the three main mining algorithms (ethash, equihash, cryptonight). Several products make up the hardware offer: bob, doublebob, megabob and extrabob. The higher up the range, the better the ratio between the efficiency and the power

consumption of the machine. The extrabob is currently the best-selling mining machine in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. The company also offer a hosting service for customers who cannot mine at home. But that is not all: the company is developing its range of heat recovery solutions. “Our machines continuously generate thermal energy. This recovery makes it possible to heat fireplaces, swimming pools, warehouses or even botanical greenhouses all year round,” explains Simonin. This year looks set to bring even more success for Just-Mining – which already counts an impressive 15,000 clients. An appearance at the internationally renowned CES Las Vegas trade show this month will be an important stepping stone to cracking the anglophone marketplace. The organisation Business France received almost 200 requests from companies wishing to exhibit there, and Just-Mining are among an exclusive list of just 26 companies to be selected. Web:

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Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing


Thinking outside the box Having earned a name for herself starring in one of America’s most talked-about television series last year, rising Dutch actor Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing is making waves on both sides of the Atlantic. The 31-year-old Rotterdam native first caught the public’s attention playing house slave Mini-Mini in the 2013 Dutch period drama The Cost of Sugar (Hoe duur was de suiker), a striking performance which earned her a Golden Calf nomination at the Netherlands Film Festival. This cultural polymath is also a talented musician and fashion icon, not to mention her degree in sociology from the prestigious Erasmus University Rotterdam. Principled, profound and oozing charisma, Wong-Loi-Sing is undoubtedly one to watch. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: JANEY VAN IERLAND

A huge hit on the Oprah Winfrey Network in the States when it aired last summer, romantic drama series Love Is___ is set in 1990s Los Angeles and explores the ups and downs of falling in love. Wong-Loi-Sing portrays Ruby, the onagain, off-again girlfriend of lead character Yasir (played by Will Catlett). It is a role the actor has loved sinking her teeth into: “What attracted me to her was the fact that she’s not like me at all, but at the same time she is…Okay, I have to explain that!” laughs the star.

my imagination started running wild! I was like, ‘okay this seems like the bitter ex how can we turn this around and make this a multi-faceted woman?’

“She’s a very caring and loving person, but she doesn’t always show it right away. She’s the type of woman that builds a wall. So in the first couple of episodes, you don’t really see her sensitive side, you see a woman that’s been left behind by the love of her life and can come across a little bitter - which I’m not - but at the same time I do have a way of masking my feelings. So I kind of saw that. When I read the script for the first two episodes,

Character building

“I created this whole background story and just kinda transformed into Ruby and figured how I would feel, how I would act, and what my motivations would be. I was like ‘oh, i can add this layer in and that layer’, and I got excited about the character. That to me is always a good sign - it challenges you to be the best you can be.”

to build this arc around a character. For a black female I think that’s a little more rare in the Netherlands, for sure. But the market is way bigger in the United States so there’s a big audience for a show like Love Is___. “I’m not sure that’s the only reason, but I think that’s one of the main reasons why there is that opportunity for me, or any black female actor in the United States. There’s just a lot more freedom in building characters, building shows, writing scripts and not being focused on colour all the time.

Finding satisfying roles is not easy for a female actor: and the lack of complex parts for women is a hot topic in Hollywood. Has Wong-Loi-Sing found it tough to find parts that inspire her? “Personally, as a black actor, I only came across a couple of those parts in the Netherlands,” she reveals. “Now I’m on a show where I’ve had the opportunity

Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing plays Ruby in the series Love Is___.

Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  41

Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing

an appearance in Dutch Vogue last September to her own candid selfies, WongLoi-Sing has an accomplished style. “I look like a tomboy 90 per cent of the time,” she grins. “I really like fashion, but not in a way that I’m trying to emphasise labels or a specific look. To me, dressing up - or dressing down, depending on the day - is a reflection of how I feel. It’s a big part of my identity - but not the only part.”

Multi-talented Wong-Loi-Sing portrayed house slave Mini-Mini in the 2013 Dutch period drama The Cost of Sugar (Hoe duur was de suiker).

“To be honest, the Ruby part could be any female, she’s not essentially someone black. All the stuff that she’s going through is universal. The fact that it’s a black cast in Love Is___ just gave me the opportunity to play her. I just hope that it opens doors and opens eyes to the fact that things don’t have to be so rigid. “We should get more comfortable to not only see more diverse women on screen, but actually hear them regardless of their background. By showing the ‘roundness’ of a character it’s almost like saying that they deserve to be shown as equal - as complex human beings. And giving them a voice that’s telling a story, just like their male counterparts.”

Role model Wong-Loi-Sing’s eclectic resume includes acclaimed Dutch director Joost van Ginkel’s drama The Paradise Suite, which follows the lives of six immigrants in Amsterdam and was the 2016 Dutch Oscar submission, not to mention lead roles in Dutch friendship comedy Alles voor elkaar (2017) and the horror Sneekweek (2016). The actor chooses her roles wisely, especially since realising her status as a role model for aspiring black female performers. “I wasn’t always aware of it, but all of a sudden I noticed people see me as a role model. Besides the fact I’ve done nice stuff in the Netherlands, a lot pf people are like ‘gosh you’re also going to the States!’ I get a lot of emails and messages on social media from girls that are wanting to 42  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

do the same thing but weren’t quite sure if it was possible. They see me doing it and think ‘okay, maybe there is a way to get there.’ Before, they felt they were restricted, but now they feel like there’s hope - that’s a beautiful thing!” Being an inspiration for so many younger black woman is particularly touching for Wong-Loi-Sing as she recalls the lack of diversity in acting when she was growing up. “I had the opportunity to either go to university, or I was also interested in going to music school or theatre school. I ended up studying sociology because I felt I didn’t have a lot of black role models in the Netherlands. I was like, ‘yeah, it’s impossible for me to go into acting the way I look’. I perceived the acting world as hard to penetrate,” she recalls.

Intellectual As it happens, choosing to study sociology over drama could well have put WongLoi-Sing at an advantage over her peers. Not only did her degree satisfy WongLoi-Sing’s intellectual inclinations, her indepth knowledge means the actor is able to enter into the minds of her characters. “I’m passionate about the human mind and the psyche - how we interact with people,” she muses. Another of Wong-Loi-Sing’s interests is fashion, something that is easy to see when scrolling through her Instagram page. From high-fashion shoots including

One thing which forms a huge part of Wong-Loi-Sing’s identity is her love of music. An album has always been on the cards, although getting it made is proving tricky. “In 2013, right after I graduated in sociology I was like, ‘okay, this is the moment that I’m gonna start recording my album’. But the universe was like, ‘no, you’re gonna do this acting thing first!’” she laughs. “Every time I think I’m finally gonna start doing it, something else comes along. It’s still something that I’m working on, but I’m very particular about what I want it to sound like. “I’m just taking my time, I feel like I don’t have to make a choice [between acting and music],” she points out. “Especially after coming back from the States and seeing how Americans have a way of just grabbing everything that they like to do and just doing it. “Music and acting are my primary focus, but who knows what else may cross my path,” she muses. “I mean, why would you restrict yourself and just put yourself in a box?”

The bigger picture Looking forward, Wong-Loi-Sing hopes to use her platform to help bring about significant changes in society. “I feel a responsibility to not only tell stories on screen that are meaningful, but also use my platform to add something good to the world. I hope that I can get to a point where I can use my voice for more things that matter,” she concludes. “I feel like I need to add something more to this world.”

Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  43


Dutch and delicious Of course one’s mind springs to Gouda cheese and famous beer producers such as Heineken and Grolsch when thinking about food and drink in the Netherlands. However, as our mouthwatering food and drink special proves, there are even more delicious Dutch delicacies to be devoured! TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: NBTC

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Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

TOP FOOD AND DRINK TIPS We asked NBTC Holland Marketing for their top five foodie tips:

and lamb. The soil has a special quality to it due to its proximity to the sea and the maintenance by the local Texel farmers. Texel lamb spend 100 days in the pasture with their mothers and these conditions give the lamb a unique taste. There are many restaurants on the island specialising in serving lamb and foodies travel especially to Texel to enjoy it on the island.

Seafood specialties from Zeeland Oysters, lobsters, mussels, cockles and periwinkles: Zeeland is famous for these delicious salty flavours. The fruits of the sea can be sampled in many of Zeeland’s excellent restaurants. Zeeland is home to two types of oyster; flat oysters are somewhat more exclusive, and are primarily eaten raw with a pinch of pepper and some lemon juice. The wild oyster can be served both grilled and raw. You can taste the oysters from September up to and including June.

Dutch asparagus Asparagus season lasts around two months in Holland, with the first crops peeking through the ground from late February/early March onwards. They are traditionally harvested from the second Thursday in April until 24 June. Several regions grow asparagus in Holland, but Limburg is the main producing area. The white asparagus is grown here and is locally referred to as white gold. In Limburg there is even a 47-kilometre cycle route which takes in the asparagus fields and which goes past quality restaurants serving the local speciality.

Genever Genever, or jenever, is probably the best known gin among many typically Dutch alcoholic beverages. Originally, it was a malt wine to which extracts of juniper berries were added. However, since the late 19th century producers often add neutral ethyl alcohol. Virtually every bar in Holland sells it as ‘jonge jenever’ (young) or ‘oude jenever’ (mature). The city of Schiedam was the capital of jenever production and it is still produced there today. The city also has a museum dedicated to the spirit where you can learn all about its distilling process, flavour development and its part in Dutch culture.

New herring from The Hague The Hague and the seaside resort of Scheveningen have wonderful seafood restaurants. If you are looking for a traditional snack or Dutch treat, you should really try the Hollandse Nieuw Herring, sold at Simonis. This is brought in straight from the early morning fish auction and is enjoyed with onions and pickles. To really experience Dutch herring culture, visit Scheveningen on ‘Vlaggetjesdag’ (Flag Day), held each year in June. With this event, the city celebrates the start of herring season and the first barrel of herring is auctioned off. It may sell for tens of thousands of euros and each year the profit is traditionally donated to charity. Herring stands can be found across the city.

Texel lamb On the island of Texel you can see the many pastures used as grazing ground for sheep

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Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

Conquering the globe with caramel craftsmanship TEXT: MYRIAM DIJCK  |  PHOTOS: ROYAL BUISMAN

Celebrating a 150-year history, Royal Buisman has always maintained the entrepreneurial spirit with which they were founded. In the 1950s, they became a household name, but while the characteristic blue tin will still conjure up feelings of nostalgia among the older generation of the Dutch, Royal Buisman is not one to linger in the past. Today, they are fast becoming one of the world’s leading producers of brown food colouring based on natural caramel ingredients. Thanks to their long track record, Royal Buisman knows the ins and outs of producing caramels like none other. The core 46  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

process, based on using high-quality raw ingredients, careful timing and controlled application of heat, has remained unchanged, but over the years Royal Buisman has greatly expanded and professionalised itself. Managing director Robert Hoopman says: “We are unique in the world because we still produce our caramels using the same methods as 150 years ago, while using no additives.Our intense flavours and deep colours set us apart from the competition. The natural caramel ingredients can greatly enhance a product, from sweet to savoury, both in taste and colour.”

Simple beginnings The company was founded in 1867 in Zwartsluis by Herman Buisman. In his father’s back yard, he had done careful experimentation to perfect the caramelisa-

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

tion process, and the powder it produced turned out to be a hit with consumers. Over the years, the company positioned itself as the ideal accompaniment to coffee, which remained a premium commodity throughout most of the 20th century. Priding themselves on enhancing the flavour of coffee without needing to use more of the expensive coffee beans, Buisman became a staple in nearly three-quarters of households in the Netherlands. In 1951, Buisman was rewarded for their endeavours and received the royal approval for their high-quality product and contribution to Dutch industry. “That was of course a very proud moment for the company, and from then onwards, we were called Royal Buisman,” Hoopman adds.

A business shift When, by the 1970s, the quality of coffee gradually started to enhance, Royal Buisman moved away from the consumer market and began to focus on industrial food producers. Their unique portfolio of natural caramel ingredients captured a niche market, and today, they are an unmissable ingredient in many (fine) baked goods, instant coffees and sauces.

ral caramelised sugar, or NCS, produced directly from beet sugar. Over the years, they have fine-tuned the process in their state-of-the art factories, which are in operation around the clock. They now produce powders as well as liquids ranging from light caramel brown in colour with a delicate, sweet flavour, to deep (red) brown products with bitter, roast notes. Hoopman adds: “Consumers have become suspicious of products that contain a lot of E-numbers. Even though these are all safe and approved additives by EFSA – the European Food Safety Authority – society is moving towards more transparency in food labelling. Using ‘caramel’ as flavour enhancer is a solution in order to have so-called clean labelling.”

International growth markets With the rising popularity of meat replacements, Royal Buisman has entered a new growth market of savoury products. Plant-based proteins from soy or milk,

or products made from mushrooms, are often naturally much paler in colour than meat. “We work together with renowned meat-replacement brands to give their products an attractive look that more closely resembles meat.” Another product that has become increasingly popular, brings Royal Buisman right back to their roots. Throughout Asia, the coffee culture is advancing, mostly in the shape of three-in-one instant coffees that include sugar and a milk creamer. “Adding our natural caramel ingredients allows for more intense and complex coffee flavours while using less coffee, and also a better, deeper colour,” Hoopman explains. Thanks to continuous innovation over the last 150 years, Royal Buisman is still uniquely positioned to expand across the globe with their natural caramel ingredients, made with Dutch craftsmanship.


Hoopman: “Whether it is a gravy or a brownie, consumers want them to have an attractive, deep brown colour. Our caramels can improve both flavour and colour in a great number of food products in a most cost-effective way.” In order to show the numerous applications, Royal Buisman has an in-house research and development department where they help food producers improve existing recipes or develop new products. “These are real bespoke projects, where they come up with custom-made solutions for our clients. Some of these projects take up to three years before the client is ready to transfer to the new recipe.”

Clean labelling Royal Buisman produces two key varieties; first is the traditional caramelised sugar, or TCS. Made from molasses, it offers dark, rich and bitter tones. Royal Buisman is the only renowned producer in the world of this product. Secondly, they also make natuIssue 61  |  January 2019  |  47

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

Millers Juice produces tens of thousands of bottles a day.

Shaping the future of vaping TEXT: MYRIAM DIJCK  |  PHOTOS: CASPER VAN AGGELEN

Dutch brand Millers Juice is on a mission. With their e-liquids, they are trying to get smokers to stop using traditional cigarettes and switch to vaping instead, which is comparatively less harmful, cheaper and produces no lingering smell. Because of this, Millers Juice believes the future is bright for the e-cigarette industry. Millers Juice, founded in 2014, is one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of e-liquid. At their 4,000-square-metre factory in Oosterhout, the Netherlands, they produce e-liquid made from the best ingredients with the highest level of purity. Head of marketing, Joey Baart, says: “The goal is to battle the addiction to nicotine.” 48  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

The family business was set up by Baart’s father Tony de Hond and business partner Koen Vissers. “In our families, we have lost many loved ones to lung cancer, so this is something that is close to our hearts.”

Early vape liquids E-cigarettes entered the market around 2000, but only really became popular about five years ago. At the time, most of the e-liquids were being produced in China. This meant that there was little insight into the production process and the ingredients. Baart: “We began by setting up a laboratory to find out what was in those e-liquids and the effect of vaping on the lungs. It turned out there were many additives in

there that shouldn’t be. These included unnecessary chemicals, emulsifiers, colourings or even cake flavourings, that are simply not suitable for vaping.”

One of the first e-liquid producers in Europe At Millers Juice they created a new range of e-liquids from scratch by focusing on top-quality ingredients and a transparent production process. Because of this, Millers

The team at Millers Juice.

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

Juice e-liquids only contain four ingredients: a thin, glycerine-based liquid, an emulsifier, an aroma and – optionally – nicotine. They were one of the first in Europe to do so. “Nothing more and nothing less. Our most popular favours are tobacco and various fruits,” Baart says. “Nearly all our ingredients are sourced in the Netherlands and the remainder come from elsewhere in Europe in order to guarantee the quality. The nicotine we use is made by a renowned producer from Switzerland. Even our packaging is produced in the Netherlands, so we can quickly respond to changes in labelling requirements.”

Baart admits to having been a smoker himself for many years, so he can personally attest to the benefits. “E-liquid vapour instantly disappears and does not leave you smelling like an ashtray. We also get regular testimonials from customers who notice they don’t get out of breath as quickly as they used to when they were still smoking cigarettes.”

Craftsmanship quality

Shaping the industry

Baart adds: “Our products are fully compliant with all the current legislation, but we go above and beyond that in order to continue to be a leading and prominent producer of e-liquids worldwide.”

Less harmful than cigarettes

As the e-cigarette is a relatively new product, legislation is still being adapted to suit the industry. The team at Millers Juice is actively involved in shaping policy at a national as well as international level. Currently, they are part of a European Union workgroup to give feedback on policy proposals.

Cigarettes contain up to 4,700 different harmful substances, including the highly damaging tar. In addition to the obvious benefit of avoiding those substances, vaping is a lot cheaper and does not make your clothes smell. Baart explains: “Smoking one pack of cigarettes a day will set you back eight pounds, whereas a bottle of e-liquid costs four pounds and will last several days. It can save you thousands in the long run.”

“At first, there was no legislation at all, but things are a lot stricter now,” Baart continues. “For example, there are new labelling guidelines, limits on nicotine contents, which is now capped at 20 millilitres per milligramme, and rules for the size of the packaging, which cannot be bigger than ten millilitres. This prevents children from accidentally drinking a large amount of the liquid, which could be fatal.”

Despite being in production for only four years, Millers Juice has grown rapidly. By now, they have a large state-of-the-art production site, laboratory and storage, and a team of 65 people to oversee the production quality. The company prides itself on their craftsmanship and their specialisation in the product.

Millers Juice produces tens of thousands of e-liquid capsules every day. To ensure the highest quality, they test every batch for purity at their high-tech laboratory setup. They sell various labels, including the Silverline, Chromeline, Platinumline and Goldline for the wholesale market. The company also offers the production of private labels for corporate clients.


Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  49

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands


Times change, but some brands do not seem to be so affected by this. Wilhelmina Mints, the Netherlands’ most iconic sweets, have been around for over 125 years, but still sweeten up the lives of Dutch people of all ages. “We are good at what we do, and that is making mints,” states Rene Alkema, sales director of mint maker Fortuin. Their factory is the birthplace of many Dutch favourites, like the colourful fruity hearts and the black and white SIL sweets. Yet, the crown jewel of their assortment is the smooth and elegant Wilhelmina Mint. It is loved by the Dutch for its crunchiness, smooth surface and the relief of former Dutch queen Wilhelmina’s silhouette on every piece. “Our founder, Willem Hendrik Fortuin, created these mints for the company’s 50th anniversary. At that time, the 12-year-old princess travelled throughout the country to visit all its regions and meet the citizens. When in the region of Friesland, Fortuin offered her a little chest containing the first mint with her portrait on it. She must have liked it, given that four years later, the company received the title of ‘warrant holder of the Dutch royal family’.” A title that still proudly adorns Wilhelmina Mints’ wrappers. Today, the mint is a welcome guest in 50  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

many households. Studies show that around 96 per cent of the Dutch population knows the product and associates it with trustworthiness and quality. “Throughout the years, the recipe and taste of our Wilhelmina Mints remained untouched. We still offer the exact same sweets as the one our founder gave to the princess.” Naturally, Fortuin does innovate by introducing new, delicious products. Next spring, the Wilhelmina Chocobite will see the light of day, the familiar mint covered in a sweet layer of chocolate.

popular mints. The royal sweets are sold in shops all over the world, and soon, even one of America’s major supermarkets will sell them. “We are proud to introduce the world to such a beautiful and traditional product,” Alkema concludes. Why Wilhelmina Mints manage to charm one generation after the next is clear to him. “The two pillars on which our company is built are quality and innovation. Those values never go out of style.”

In the meantime, people worldwide are still discovering the taste of Fortuin’s most


Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

Flavours of the world distilled in Dutch barrels TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: AMSTERDAMSE KETELS

Amsterdamse Ketels proves that locally produced products need not always taste local. The artisanal distillery in the Dutch capital combines its knowhow of native spirits with tastes and products from all corners of the world. “I have travelled a lot,” Alberto Tijhuis, director of Amsterdamse Ketels, begins. “Along the way, I have discovered many fascinating flavours and drinks that we simply don’t know here.” In 2014, Tijlhuis took over an artisanal micro-distillery in Amsterdam to blow a fresh wind through the aisles of cauldrons and barrels. The traditional spirits made room for an exciting fusion of Dutch craftsmanship and exotic products and techniques which are sold under different labels. The crown jewel of their collection is their pure corn whiskey. “In America, they use around 80 per cent corn. We, however, choose to use nothing but that. Hardly anyone has ever done that. We let it age in barrels made of oak from Amsterdam’s Vondelpark, the city’s biggest oasis. This makes our drink extra local.” For their cof-

fee liquor, they also found inspiration on Dutch soil. They brew their coffee exactly like the sailors of the iconic Dutch East Indian Company did it in the 16th century. “The exact process is our best-kept secret. Yet, we can reveal that it is brewed cold.” Because of this technique, the coffee preserves its scent, which you notice as soon as you open the bottle. Amsterdamse Ketels also produces three jenevers: one with elderberry, a very young one which is comparable to a gin and one with the Japanese shiso leaf. Equally surprising are the vodkas they create. “While travelling through the former Soviet Union, I met many people who distilled their own vodka at home. Weirdly enough, they did it with green peas and tomatoes. The result was so amazing and pure, that I brought the recipe home.” Amsterdamse Ketels now uses these same ingredients. As an extra surprise, their premium vodka ages on pine seeds, giving it a nice, brown colour. “Since the drink is very pure, it won’t give you a headache. Regardless of how much of it you drink.”

One of their special labels, Mokum Moonshine (street slang for ‘illegal alcohol from Amsterdam’) takes you back to the powerful distillates of the 1930s. The bottles show a building of the Amsterdam School, an important architectural style from that period. Businesses can also count on Amsterdamse Ketels for their own private labels. “We create personalised brands from just 60 litres upwards. This way, smaller companies or even families can afford to have their very own drink.”


Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  51

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

Quality cheese made by a maturing family business TEXT: KARIN VENEMA  |  PHOTOS: HENRI WILLIG

When Henri Willig and his wife took over his parents’ dairy farm in 1974, little did they know that 40 years later they would be running a thriving cheese business. The cheese farms are a top tourist attraction with more than one million visitors a year, whilst their cheese is in high demand around the world. Henri Willig makes cheese from regular, organic and biodynamic cow’s milk and regular and organic goat’s and sheep’s milk. They do not just produce the usual Dutch cheeses, but also specialities like Hooidammer. Their own organic Jersey farm is designed to stimulate the cows’ natural behaviour and make them as comfortable as possible. Henri Willig invites tourists and interested farmers alike to visit the organic farm and he hopes that everyone who visits the dairy and cheese farm learns something. The family-run business is gradually expanding, with Henri Willig cheese now being sold at 25 of its own cheese shops, 52  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

a popular webshop and via many exports. Cream rises to the top, and since the start of the economic crisis, Henri Willig has actually had a steady growth, opening shops all over Amsterdam, the rest of the Netherlands and even expanding abroad in Austria, Vienna.

“Even after all these years, I love our cheese,” says Willig. “I am a real connoisseur and I love the variety that cheese has to offer. The other day I was giving the local councillor a tour around the cheese farm, and I tried a few cheeses with him. It still took me by surprise how tasty it was!”

“There is a real connection amongst the 400 people working for our company: we’re one big family. Just the other day, a customer that had visited our shop in Vienna handed a note to an Amsterdam shop assistant with the warmest regards from her colleague 1,100 kilometres away,” smiles Willig.

The popularity of Henri Willig cheese is easily explained: it is very tasty, travels well and makes great gifts for friends and family.

From the land to the customer, the whole process of making the best Dutch cheese specialities is executed with the greatest care. Henri Willig collaborates with 60 Dutch milk suppliers, which are carefully selected to ensure the quality of the milk that they work with. The systematic and safe production process ensures consistent quality, and has earned the company several awards for best cheese.

Web: LEFT: Cheese making: this is how Henri Willig once started. On the photo, the two oldest sons Jacob and Wiebe can be seen. Wiebe is the smallest in the photo and is now CEO of Henri Willig Kaas. TOP RIGHT: Henri Willig and his wife Riet started here and cheese is still being made here. “We welcome many visitors from the Netherlands and the rest of the world every day to make them part of the entire cheese making process: from ground to mouth.” It is unique to experience this in one location and the entrance is free. Groups can also go there for guided tours, meetings, lunch or dinner. BOTTOM RIGHT: Cheese Tasting at Henri Willig. Here, individual visitors can learn about Henri Willig cheese and, of course, they can taste.

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

James Russell Reid.

Innovative Dutch ‘Smartdrinks’ range set to go global TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: KONNEKT SMARTDRINKS

The Konnekt Smartdrinks story began in 2014, when company founder James Russell Reid had the idea to formulate a range of refreshing Smartdrinks powered by amino acids. Konnekt’s game-changing range of Smartdrinks - which use functional ingredients as ‘Brain Fuel’ - has already shaken up the health drinks sector, with the company well on its way to becoming a global household name. Reid came up with Konnekt’s first three Smartdrinks flavours (‘Focussing’, ‘Enduring’ and ‘Relaxing’) in collaboration with renowned scientists. One of the main benefits is that the completely natural Smartdrinks contain honey as an alternative source of energy. “Evidence shows that scientific sweeteners are even worse than natural sugars,” points out Reid, also referring to the notorious ‘sugar rush’ and subsequent ‘crash’ associated with bad sugars which are often used as a source of energy. Konnekt Smartdrinks avoid the ‘rush and crash’ because honey is slowly digested, providing a gradual energy release.

Having successfully produced the first large scale batch of Konnekt Smartdrinks in October 2017, the brand already has a presence across Europe in countries including Germany, the UK and Ireland, and is instantly recognisable with its stylish Piccolo bottle (shortlisted at the NL Packaging Awards 2018).

Konnekt are following leads to begin distributing as far afield as Hong Kong and China, while the company has had an office based in Dubai since last November - with some very exciting plans on the horizon in the Middle East. For example, Konnekt are working on becoming official drinks sponsor of the Dubai Expo 2020.

In the Netherlands, the company have appointed a new Dutch distributor, JetDrinks, while a deal with Dutch company Foodcase International will see Konnekt Smartdrinks being tested as an inflight product on 30 European airlines including Iberia, Vueling and Lufthansa in the first quarter of 2019.

The brand are also planning to launch their first non-carbonated version in the first quarter of 2019, as well as potentially starting to produce in India and the United States. “This would be a huge leap forward in terms of efficiency,” enthuses Reid. “All very important stepping stones to becoming a global brand.”

The brand’s success is not just in Europe either, thanks to an innovative use of technology. “We have teams of people across the globe reaching out to potential distributors via WhatsApp,” explains Reid. Once an interest has been established, three types of contract are offered: a distribution agreement, a licence agreement or an agency agreement.

Konnekt Smartdrinks - Functional amino acids, or ‘Brain Fuel’ - Honey source - Kosher, Halal & Vegan certified - Supported by governments

To find out more, visit:

Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  53

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands


After more than 40 years, the amazing lemonades of Exota are back on the market. Though the bottles look identical to the ones they used back then, the drink itself is tastier and more natural than ever. Exota, one of the Netherlands’ most iconic carbonated drinks, is back on the market. From the 1930s until the ‘70s, the lemonade was very popular among kids as well as adults. Sadly, the company went under after a television show wrongfully claimed that their bottles could spontaneously explode. The Dutch, however, never forgot their colourful lemonade. In 2016, three young men decided to give the brand a second life. “First, we asked the grandson of the owner for permission to give the brand a second life,” sales and marketing manager Bas Pepers explains. “Then, we recreated and invented the flavours ourselves.” The more experienced sweet tooth will also recognise Exota’s flip-top bottle and vintage label, since it is almost identical to the bottle available decades ago. “These glass bottles are part of the nostalgic ex54  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

perience. Besides, they are more ecological than plastic and can be reused for water, sauces or even flowers.” Their assortment mainly consists of old-school flavours like lemon, orange, grenadine and campagnepils (a flavour comparable to energy drinks, yet a little fresher). With mandarin and grapefruit, they also add two refreshing new varieties to the range. “Our lemonades are made entirely of natural and biological products. We therefore also use real cane sugar, instead of chemical alternatives. We don’t try to conceal that sugar since it’s a standard ingredient of any lemonade. Ours actually contains less of it than most sodas.” Together with syrupmanufacturer Monin, Exota has now created delicious alcohol-free cocktails like the Exota Orange Spritz. “From this year on, our lemonades will be available in bars and restaurants. These mocktails could go straight on their menus.” After winning Dutch hearts, Exota now travels the world. Literally, since their mandarin lemonade is available onboard

all Transavia flights. “It is an honour that our drink gets served in the air. Exota is very different from most sodas since it is artisanal and a tad more luxurious. As a local Dutch product, our lemonade welcomes visitors to the Netherlands, already on the plane.”


Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands


Besides its famous cheese and peanut butter, a Dutch breakfast is not complete without a pot of apple butter or ‘stroop’ from Canisius. The sweet spread contains lots of fruit, appealing to all generations. “Our family has been producing apple butter for the last 115 years,” commercial director Jean-Pierre Henssen explains. “In 1903, Jean Canisius, my great-granduncle, had a fruit business. He got tired of throwing away the leftovers and decided to make apple butter from it instead.” At that time, the fruity spread was already very popular in their region of Limburg. Yet, nobody produced it on the scale Canisius did. Local farmers brought their apples to him, from which he made apple butter on commission. Over a century later, the wooden barrels and copper cauldrons have made room

for modern machines, but the original recipe remains. With its firmness, it distinguishes itself from other similar spreads. “That is all natural,” Henssen emphasises. “For one kilo of apple butter, we use seven kilos of fruit and nothing else. The quality of our product is the same as it was a century ago. Perhaps even better.” Though they traditionally work with apples and pears, red plums, sour cherries, berries and beets find their way to the factory as well. Their newest inventions are the apple butter dips: little pots of apple butter mixed with mustard, beer or figs and port. “Perfect as an appetiser or with tapas.” For the many Dutchmen abroad, Canisius exports its dark gold all around the world. Expats in many European countries as well as in Canada, Australia and South Africa can find it on the shelves. Even the Dutch royal family eats

it. On Canisius’ centennial in 2003, they received the title of ‘royal supplier’. “King Willem-Alexander was raised with our apple butter,” Henssen jokes. The apple butter is sold in a multitude of containers. One of them shows a picture of Henssen looking at the sweet spread when he was two. “It was a marketing idea of my father and became very popular. Today, we don’t sell this one as much anymore. Most people now prefer our original packaging: the red and golden tin cans.” This summarises the spirit of a company that puts quality ahead of progression. “We don’t want to grow but continue, renew and optimise what we do today. This way, we can continue for another 115 years.”


The once very popular container with Henssen on it.

Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  55

Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

Chocolate for beginners If you - just like Charlie - would love to experience a sweet adventure in a chocolate factory, you should book yourself a workshop at Chocobreak. Peter Doekbrijder, the Willy Wonka of his generation, teaches you the art of chocolate in his own sacred atelier. Buying chocolate in the charming store of Chocobreak is quite the experience. Housed in one of the oldest buildings of historic Nijmegen, the heavy, wooden beams and natural stone floors reflect Peter Doekbrijder’s artisanal methods. “We work with the highest quality single-origin chocolate from Callebaut, the foremost Belgian chocolate supplier,” Doekbrijder


explains. “With this, we make delicacies like caramel pralines, truffles with vanilla from Papua New Guinea and chocolates with Chinese ginger.” For companies, they also produce tailor-made sweets, like beer pralines for the Hertog Jan brewery. What Doekbrijder loves even more than making these irresistible indulgences, is sharing his knowledge and experience with the world. In his atelier, he organises workshops for individuals, groups and companies. “First, I show them a movie about how a cacao bean becomes chocolate and introduce them to some basic techniques. Afterwards, we start creating. During two or three hours, we work with mar-

zipan, soft caramel and, of course, chocolate. We even make our own fudge. In the end, we box up the creations as a tasty souvenir.” Kids are welcome for a playful workshop as well. For bachelor and bachelorette parties, Chocobreak even offers initiations in erotic chocolate. In short, everybody is welcome to immerse themselves in chocolate. According to Doekbrijder, anyone can do it. “I am always there and can help if necessary. So, if you dare to be creative, you will surely create something tasty and beautiful.” Web:

Authentic Dutch cheese, specially made TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: CHEESEFARM BERKHOUT

The story began with a small farm, where cheese was made using leftover milk from its 15 cows. Almost 35 years later, Cheesefarm Berkhout has more than 180 cows and makes one the most ‘travelled’ cheeses in the world. “We honour the traditional craft and share it with the world,” say Marry and Ted Berkhout, who run the cheese making, along with Ted’s brother Nico, who runs the milk farm part of the company. Cheesefarm Berkhout is located in Hoogwoud, not far from Alkmaar, where the famous cheese market is. “My parents started the farm in 1974. I joined them in my early 20s and, in 2005, Nico and I took over the company,” Ted continues. “We produce a wide range of smaller cheeses which are perfect as a gift. Not only is the cheese made from cow’s milk, but we also make sheep and goat’s cheese.” The cheeses are made with all kinds of flavours, like 56  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

truffle and garlic. They also use different kinds of spices such as chilli pepper, and herbs such as nettle. “A lot of people around the world have tasted our cheese,” explains Marry. This is because Berkhout’s cheeses are also sold at Schiphol Airport. “A lot of tourists come to the shop to taste authentic Dutch cheese, which we have made even more special. Our Ted & Marie range is very popular across the globe,” she smiles.

Knowing Berkhout’s cheeses are made at a traditional Dutch farm, where the famous Dutch cheese craftsmanship methods are used, gives them an even tastier flavour. “And everyone should enjoy that with us,” grins Ted.


Discover Benelux  |  Food & Drink  |  A Taste of the Netherlands

Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  57

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of the Benelux  |  Belgium & Luxembourg

Photo: Grand Café de la Gare


Bon appétit! Belgium and Luxembourg are home to some of Europe’s top foodie hotspots. Whether you want to sample traditional, regional fare or innovative new flavours, you are sure to find somewhere to satisfy your cravings in our mouthwatering guide. Photo: Beeftro

58  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of the Benelux  |  Beeftro

A steakhouse with French flair TEXT: CHÉRINE KOUBAT  |  PHOTOS: BEEFTRO

Beeftro, a striking restaurant offering prime cuts of beef and gourmet burgers in luxuriously modern surroundings, stands tall in Belval. The formerly stark steel production site, some 20 kilometres southwest of the city of Luxembourg, has become a decidedly forward-looking symbol of industrial regeneration. It is the perfect setting for this stylish eatery, where past and present meet for a contemporary reimagining of the concept of steakhouses. Belval, along the French border, now houses the main campus of the University of Luxembourg. Its iconic blast furnaces, which are testament to the booming steel production of the 20th century, have been repurposed in creative ways. The exciting urban renewal project – one of the largest in Europe – has effectively transformed the country’s defunct heritage into its future. Overlooking the towering steel refinery, Beeftro exemplifies the ambitious pro-

gramme at work here. It offers a blend of luxury and industrial flair, with clean lines and floor-to-ceiling windows. Luxe touches, like marble tables, leather seats and parquet flooring, mix with raw elements and soft lighting. The arresting design is the vision of Humbert & Poyet, an architectural firm with a refined modernist and art deco aesthetic headquartered in Monaco. As the eatery’s name – a clever blend of ‘beef’ and ‘bistro’ – implies, meat reigns supreme on the menu. It revolves around four main concepts: sharing plates to start, premium beef cuts, burgers and Kobe creations, which bring playful streetfood influences into the mix. Though it mainly caters to discerning carnivores, the restaurant also features fish and chicken dishes, as well as a veggie burger, among its Charolais and Black Angus offerings. The buzzing and convivial atmosphere at Beeftro makes it the perfect spot for family gatherings and business meetings alike.

In this aspect, it epitomises the spirit of the French bistros after which it is named: a welcoming place for a hearty meal and lively conversation. Beeftro, a chain of the Giraudi Group, is open for lunch and dinner six days a week, and closed on Mondays. The group’s Beefbar concept, which hails from Monaco, has been successfully exported to Paris, Budapest, Dubai, Hong-Kong, Cannes, Mykonos and Mexico.


Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  59

Restaurant Bosque FeVi Park Gaalgebierg Esch-sur-Alzette +352 540228

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of the Benelux  |  Bistro Brasserie Koeppchen & Grand Café de la Gare

A fresh approach to traditional Luxembourgish food TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: KOEPPCHEN

This family-friendly bistro on the banks of Luxembourg’s Mosel river valley is considered an institution with a history going back to 1907. Delicious food, friendly service and a cosy atmosphere is what you will find here at Koeppchen. Alongside traditional cuisine, the young team has taken a fresh approach – so all the most popular dishes such as Mosel fried fish remain on the menu, but burgers and a variety of contemporary dishes are available too. Other best-sellers include chicken puff pastry, flour dumplings, steaks galore and the hugely popular veal cordon bleu with local cheese and ham. Another big attraction is Koeppchen’s extensive Luxembourgish Mosel valley wine list, as nowhere else in the world will you find a list so dedicated solely to Luxembourgish wine. And, given that many local wine producers are regulars here, you may be lucky enough to

find yourself sitting next to one when you drop in for your ‘friture de la Moselle’. The team at Koeppchen deal directly with most of the valley’s wine producers, so they are real ambassadors for the whole valley, especially for the Riesling, the pride and joy of the Mosel valley. There are also over 30 different types of gin and tonic concoctions to choose from, as well as an array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails.

So, when you are next passing through Luxembourg, why not take a detour and enjoy a traditional meal and a delicious glass of local wine in this countryside bistro high up on the banks of the river Mosel? You will not be disappointed and you can be sure that most produce is locally sourced and all of it is super fresh. Web:

A contemporary restaurant in an iconic location TEXT: CHÉRINE KOUBAT  |  PHOTOS: GRAND CAFÉ DE LA GARE

Housed in the emblematic Liège-Guillemins railway station, Le Grand Café de la Gare has defeated all odds. Despite its utilitarian location, the streamlined restaurant has become a destination eatery for locals, where tourists mingle with local commuters and regulars. But do not expect a stuffy welcome here: with its buzzing atmosphere and relaxed, spacious setting, it is a real hive of activity.

for breakfast, drinks, or a quick bite to eat, and a restaurant area at the back. “Considering our location, we have an amazing proportion of returning customers. In particular, our restaurant attracts a lot of regulars, whereas the brasserie is mostly visited by people on the go,” says Stassart. Aside from the fish and duck specialities, old-world dishes, such as black pudding, mille-feuille and grilled pig’s trotters, are a key attraction here. Season-

al recipes are also updated on a weekly basis. Clients keep coming back for the quality of the food and the warmth of the welcome, while the energetic ballet of travellers provides them with endless entertainment. The restaurant is open all year round. Web:

In keeping with the station’s stunning design – the most photographed building in the city – the well-established Grand Café de la Gare serves traditional, regional fare in contemporary, minimalist surroundings. The venue changed hands in 2017 and the dynamic duo now in charge – successful entrepreneur Stéphan Uhoda and young manager Pierre Stassart – made the conscious decision to maintain the venue’s winning formula: a classic, French-style brasserie area Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  61

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of the Benelux  |  Pâtisserie Hoffmann

The sweet smell – and taste – of success TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON  |  PHOTOS: PÂTISSERIE HOFFMANN

Luxembourgers like the finer things in life. Master pastry chef and entrepreneur Jean-Marie Hoffmann has built a very special business that aims to provide not just the fine, but the finest. In his youth, Jean-Marie Hoffmann dreamed for a time of becoming a surgeon, but decided that such a life was not for him. Given the meticulous attention to detail demonstrated in his creations, his growing business empire, and his tireless drive to improve both, it is very possible he would have made a mighty medic. The path the now 51-year-old Hoffmann chose was to become a great pastry chef, learning his craft with some prestigious names before deciding that it was time 62  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

to launch his own operation. “I looked seriously at Venice Beach in California as an option, but it wasn’t right for me or what I do.” He wondered about Dubai too, but finally saw that home was best. “Luxembourg has great gastronomic traditions, it’s an ever-more prosperous place where people are willing to pay for the best, and where they appreciate what top quality is,” says Hoffmann, “Like the French, eating well is a part of our culture, our heritage.” Thus, in 1991, he opened his first shop in Bonnevoie, making a name and setting it on the firm financial footing that enabled him to open a second, in Alzingen, in 2001. Making a name for himself included, in 1996, coming second in the

pastry-chef world championships in Paris, the perfectionism that yielded that result reflected in the products in his shops – ices, sorbets, chocolates, delicate pastries, gâteaux… “We set the highest standards and use the best materials, including flour and fresh cream and milk from Luxembourg; but we also search the world for the topmost

18 Avenue de la Porte-Neuve L-2227 Luxembourg.

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of the Benelux  |  Pâtisserie Hoffmann

quality ingredients, like cinnamon from Sri Lanka, and Madagascan vanilla.”

A grand expansion For some people, that relatively simple business would have been enough, especially as it evolved into what is very much a family concern: “My wife has been very important to the company since the start, and my daughter Kelly joined after she became a master pastry-chef. And now my son Dustin is working on the marketing side,” he says. But Hoffmann had other ideas. As 2017 ended, it was announced that his company was acquiring the 16 shops, restaurant and production premises of long-established Luxembourg rival Schumacher, investing 16 million euros into upgrading their facilities. “We changed overnight from around 30 employees to 230,” he states, “And to be able to achieve what we want to do with the business, we expect to increase that to 280 or 300 before too long.” The bakery business is known for its anti-social hours, but to integrate the two parts and oversee the new investment

projects Hoffmann has gone further, actually installing a camp bed in a windowless broom cupboard next to his office in his new production facility in Wormeldange, and spending most nights there.

Fresh ideas, fresh investment, fresh products Even early on in the process, the signs were positive, sales good, and a good reaction from the workforce was evident. Because of the nature of what they produce, this is something that takes a very special approach – and Hoffmann is appreciative of production director Michael Weyland. “The scale of the operation, with 18 shops, and many catering companies and other outlets in addition, could be seen as industrial,” Hoffmann says, “But this has to be artisanal, what we do is a craft with so much done by hand, reliant on human skill rather than machinery.” And Hoffmann has no intention of losing what has always been – and remains – the trump card of his business: “If I have a new idea, if we come up with a new product

say, we can make it happen – and at the highest level of quality – within the day.” It is a philosophy that matches the nature of the business. In the restaurant, the mouth-watering menu du jour is now truly du jour, changing daily and using the best seasonal produce. The wraps, sandwiches, quiches and salads that form the savoury basis of the traiteur business are truly fresh. The chocolates beneath their glass counters in the shops are miniature works of art, the great classics occasionally joined by new creations; and it is the same too with the pastries, handmade, as enticing on the shelves as they will be later in the day on the tables of Luxembourg’s discerning diners. The whole team is working tirelessly, and it is working successfully too. And they share a vision: “Our goal is to be one of the big names in our sector, not just in Luxembourg but beyond too,” Hoffmann concludes. Web:

CEO Jean-Marie Hoffmann.

Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  63

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of the Benelux  |  The Ultimate Flemish Brewery Guide 2019

Nicolas Volders, Commercial Manager.

Around the world in a thousand beers TEXT: MYRIAM DIJCK  |  PHOTOS: BROUWERIJ ANDERS!

It all started six years ago, at the dawn of the craft beer revolution. Inspired by these developments, a team of Belgian brewers put their heads together to offer semi-professional brewers the chance to bring their beers to market without having to invest in their own brewery. Today, Brouwerij Anders! brews new and unusual, innovative and award-winning beers that are enjoyed all over Belgium and beyond. All the beers made by Anders! are produced for third parties, such as microbreweries who want to scale up but do not have the capacity, or organisations who want to produce a beer for a special occasion. They also regularly brew for renowned beer brands who cannot meet demand or who want to test a new flavour, but have not got a small-enough setup that allows for this. Marketing and commercial manager Nicolas Volders says: “The craft beer 64  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

trend began with many hobbyists trying their hand at brewing for the first time. By now, consumers are more familiar with craft beers and demand a higher quality and better taste. We help new and experienced brewers to perfect their recipes and create excellent beers.”

Bridging a gap in the market After outgrowing their initial setup, Anders! moved to a new state-of-the-art brewing hall in Halen in 2016. They are continuously in operation from Sunday evening through to Friday night to brew lagers, ales, IPAs, stouts and more. Starting with a production of 3,000 hectolitres in 2012, they soon increased this to 50,000 hectolitres per year and have just completed an upgrade of their brewhouse to meet forecasted growth in demand, and are now able to produce 75,000 hectolitres per year. Having brewed hundreds of different recipes and styles, there are few breweries in the world who have as much experience

with different flavours as the brew masters of Anders!. Thanks to this know-how, Anders! is able to give its clients in-depth advice on new recipes to create tasty, top-quality beers. “In the last few years, we have expanded significantly in the English and French markets. Also in Belgium people are starting to experiment more, even though we have a more traditional market,” Volders says.

Zythological mastery Anders! certainly prides itself on its expertise in the beer-brewing craft. Keeping the quality consistently high is of the utmost importance to the team. This starts by sourcing premium raw materials and ingredients, and continues with round-theclock monitoring of the brewing process and a cutting-edge filling machine. “An important aspect is minimising the exposure to oxygen during the brewing

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of the Benelux  |  The Ultimate Flemish Brewery Guide 2019

process after the first fermentation. When beer comes in contact with oxygen, it reduces its shelf-life and spoils the flavour more quickly. We continuously improve our brewing installation and processes to accomplish minimal interference from oxygen,” Volders says. Anders! will also continue to embark on new flavour explorations. One unusual brew included the use of yuzu, an aromatic citrus fruit from Japan with a lemony taste. Another current trend is the pairing of food and beer. Volders adds: “Last year, we brewed a Black Forest gateau stout, which contained all the key ingredients for the cake, including cherries, lactose and cocoa.”

An exotic, award-winning brew Recently, the team at Anders! decided to brew under their own label once a year as a way to showcase their expertise and celebrate their craft. Last year, they created a Milkshake IPA, which is a fruity and creamy type of beer brewed with lactose and lots of hops. They called it Tropical Milkshake IPA, and it immediately picked up the Gold award at the 2018 World Beer Awards. “This really cemented our conviction in our skills,” says Volders. “We got the idea after creating some New England IPAs and IPAs with lactose for our clients. Despite the pronounced fruity aromas of lychee, mango and citrus fruits, we didn’t add any

fruit juices. Thanks to our experience with the ingredients, we were able to select the right hops to get this result.” As they only produced one batch of 4,000 litres of the beer, it is not commercially available. This year, however, they will again use their kettles for another unique Anders! brew. Volders concludes: “As we will showcase ourselves at the Zythos Bierfestival in Leuven in April, we will try to finish it by mid-Spring. We haven’t got a recipe yet, so we have plenty of work to do still!”


Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  65

Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of the Benelux  |  The Ultimate Flemish Brewery Guide 2019

Tasty beer built under a house of cards TEXT: KARIN VENEMA  |  PHOTOS: GRIET VERWAEST

When a group of friends met fortnightly to drink beer and talk about football, little did they know that 15 years later it would result in a professional brewery. Het Nest brewery now produces more than 400,000 litres of artisan beer per year and is known by beer lovers around the world. “It was a hobby that got out of hand,” says Bart Cuypers, president at Het Nest brewery. “First we were just trying different beers, naming our beer tasting club The order of the drunken sparrow, after a local saying. Eventually, some of us went on a hobby brewing course and our own experiments started.” When they won a prize at an amateur brewers championship, they suspected that they were onto something and continued to fine tune the recipe. In 2009, their first beer entered the market: Schuppenboer (Jack of spades), still the brewery’s best-selling beer today. Because the founders are all from Turnhout, playing cards seemed an obvious choice.

66  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

“Many recipes are inspired by our travels. We took American hops to Belgium and mixed them with traditional brewing methods. For instance, our Schuppenaas (Ace of Spades) beer was inspired by the Belgian beer classic Orval. Our variety is made from American hop, but like Orval, the second yeast strain is a Brett. This crossover gives it a unique taste.” Het Nest brewery aims to double its production over the next five years. Constantly innovat-

ing, they see new opportunities for tasty beers with a lower alcohol percentage. “So I can go to a bar for a few hours, have some tasty beers and still drive home safely,” smiles Cuypers. Web:

Lexus at Hanghar. Photo: Concreat Events

T O P F L E M I S H E V E N T P L A N N I N G & L O C AT I O N S

An exceptional experience Although most of us can manage our friends and family coming over for birthday cake, hosting bigger events can be more troublesome. Luckily, one person’s inability is someone else’s talent. So, sit back and relax while the fate of your party or business event lies in the trustworthy hands of an event planner. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

The Media House. Client event for TNT. Photo: Wim Dewulf

Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  67

Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Event Planning & Locations  |  An Exceptional Experience

Photo: D’M&S

An industry on the rise More and more people are contracting an event planner while preparing for their wedding, book presentation or even the office Christmas party. Experts predict that the event planning industry will grow rapidly in the next few years, and it is easy to understand why. Hiring a planner has advantages galore: they take all your stress on themselves, so you can relax and prepare for your special night. This way, if the caterer decides to change your carefully thought-through menu at the last minute, or the venue does not seem to live up to its promises, their ‘the-show-mustgo-on’ mentality will save the day.

Photo: KonseptS

68  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

the harmony of your evening and, first and foremost, they are the creative brain behind the entire event.

Strong concepts Nowadays, the foundation of every event is a strong concept. They have to tell a story or commit to a refreshing theme. A seasoned planner is an expert in taking guests on an unforgettable journey. They know their audience and tailor-make an experience that fits the occasion like a glove. Not just from the moment you enter the venue, but also before, in the invitations, communication and (social) media buzz they create.


Skilled communication

Much of that has to do with the ‘caméléonesque’ nature of their job. An event planner serves as an all-round solution, dealing with all the issues that show their ugly head while hosting parties. They oversee the logistical aspects in both the preparation of the event itself, managing the stream of people to guard

Finally, event managers are, above all, extraordinarily skilled communication experts. Only, they do not tell their stories through words or film, but use the beautiful medium of experiences instead. Allow us to introduce you to some of Flanders’ most talented event planners, ready to make your special day even more unforgettable.

Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Event Planning & Locations  |  An Exceptional Experience

CreationZ Read more from page 70 Creationz is a full-service events company, specialising in staff parties, conventions, product launches, customer events, trade fairs and corporate anniversaries.

The Media House


Read more from page 74 Belgian ‘Live Communication’ agency, The Media House create immersive experiences that leave long-lasting impressions on their client’s customers.

Read more from page 76 D’M&S will ensure your conference, seminar, incentive or trade show delivers on substance, creativity and production values.

Concreat Events


Read more from page 78 Having built a solid reputation among a series of European A-brands, Concreat Events in Antwerp realises unique projects at exceptional locations.

Read more from page 80 KonseptS translates your requests for their help with the organisation of various aspects of your events into truly original concepts.

Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  69

Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Event Planning & Locations  |  An Exceptional Experience

Revealing the secrets of event management TEXT: MYRIAM DIJCK  |  PHOTOS: KOEN LUYTEN

Passion and hard work: these two key characteristics immediately shine through when we speak to Bart De Vos. Together with Sabine Scheirs, he is the founder and director of events company Creationz, based in Keerbergen. With over 26 years of experience under their belt, they have knowhow in excess and use this to continuously surpass clients’ expectations. “Everything is about passion,” says De Vos. “We work hard and you can’t keep that up without passion. We always try to go the extra mile, and our clients feel our enthusiasm and it transfers over to them.” Being at the head of the highlyexperienced Creationz team, De Vos prides himself on the fact that every mem70  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

ber has at least ten years of experience in the industry. In fact, the entire team is made up of event managers. “This is different from the average events agency; we don’t have account managers. Our clients, therefore, will always speak oneon-one to an experienced events manager during all communications.” As a result, new clients almost always come to Creationz through word-ofmouth promotion. “We notice that many clients, as well as suppliers, spontaneously drop our name after a successful event. Our events do their own advertising.”

want to ensure the client gets a good return for their money. “Every event is important. Clients can spend a fair sum on an event, so they require reassurance on their expenditure. We always look for the added value that we can offer, in order to make an event worth the investment.” Transparency during the production process, in particular with regards to the budgeting, is one of the ways in which Creationz accomplishes this. “We work in a very open way. Instead of working as ‘us’ and ‘them’, we make clients part of our team and vice versa. We always talk about ‘we’.”

Events as an investment

Constantly evolving

Part of the work ethos at Creationz is treating every event like an investment for the client. This means that the team

Living in the age of visual storytelling, the screen is increasingly becoming an event’s centre piece. De Vos has always

Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Event Planning & Locations  |  An Exceptional Experience

closely followed technological developments in order to adopt them into the events. Thanks to this, he was the first in Europe to adopt circular LED screens a few years ago. “They are now commonplace, but at the time it was something completely new.” De Vos is certainly known for incorporating screens in original ways in his events. For a staff party with over 4,000 guests, he used multiple LED screens to project the CEO’s keynote speech. “We lowered the LED screens into the audience until they were right in between the guests. This made the speech more personal and intimate. Instead of towering over everyone on a stage, the CEO stood between his staff and became part of them.”

Pushing the limits During last year’s SuperNova event, which focusses on innovative consumer technology, De Vos also had the opportunity to showcase Creationz’s technical knowhow to an international audience of 3,000 people. “We collaborated with a fantastic team at the festival, which included speakers from major tech companies including Shazam, Microsoft and Imec.” The stage area was turned into a 1,200-square-metre projection field, and together with an LED wall at the back of the podium, it transformed the speaker presentations into moving, visual experiences. “We always push the boundaries of what the technique allows us to do,” says De Vos. “Some of the international speakers told us ‘even for us, this was beyond New York standards,’ which is a fantastic compliment.”

A fitting metaphor Staring with the project briefing, De Vos will create a compelling story that works as a metaphor for the values of the client. “We always try to find surprising and exciting ways to interpret this. It all starts with the event invitation, as, to us, that’s when the event kicks off. We want guests to be excited from the very start and spark their interest on an emotional level.” Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  71

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Effective visual storytelling also feeds into this. “You want it to reflect the event’s message and strengthen it in a nonverbal way,” he says. “If, for example, during a staff party, a company wants to show how important their staff is to them, we’d make sure that every guest is treated like a VIP.” The event message is also key for the type of catering and choice of decorations. “If a company values transparency, we would use see-through bowls for the tableware and incorporate clear, frozen blocks of ice in the catering service.” This is an example of storytelling translating in a solid production for the client and a unique experience for the guests.

A miracle message Another recent success story was a staff event for a pharmaceutical company in Belgium. It was a thank you for a good sales year, as the company had taken the nation’s top position in terms of turnover and wanted to show appreciation to their staff. De Vos: “Everyone in the company is essential to the production of life-saving treatments, so that became the message of the event. During their day-today work, most members of staff don’t consider they work towards the miracle of healing every day. We captured this in the shape of a droplet, which was reflected in the invitation as well as in the outfits of the event staff. When we served dinner, all these droplets came together by means of a projection on the tables.”

ceiling for an extended period of time. This way, even small-budget events can incorporate them, and the cost for mounting and demounting will be shared among all the clients who use it.”

Three elements of success Lifting the veil on what makes his company a success, De Vos identifies three elements. First of all, is working closely with the clients. He says: “We really unpack the message a client wants to relay, and try to arrive at something that is better than the original briefing. Often, we help clients to understand themselves in a different way.” Secondly, De Vos is able to rely on a highly experienced team and has long and productive working relationships with suppliers and venues. “You get the best results when you work together in a pleasant way, so this is very important.” Then, thirdly, is working hard – in particular on detailed event preparations. “A good event is 90 per cent preparation. The better the preparation, the more relaxed you can enter the day of the event itself. Thanks to this way of working, we often have spare time in the run up, so we can sit down with the client and discus the final details. This creates a strong sense of trust,” he concludes.

Profile: Bart De Vos After earning his stripes in the industry for four years, Bart De Vos set up his own events management company in 1998. B-Art Eggsclusive quickly became an internationally renowned, award-winning agency for organising corporate events using a very transparent style of project and budget management for its clients. In 2011 De Vos sold the company and made a shift towards event consultancy, becoming a speech coach for CEOs and politicians. Live Nation became an important client and, four years later, De Vos was asked to organise the 2015 Davis Cup Final in Ghent. Soon after, he returned to event management full-time and founded Creationz. Creationz is a full-service events company, specialising in staff parties, conventions, product launches, customer events, trade fairs and corporate anniversaries. Events have included the world launch of the new Mini and the BMW X2 series, the 2018 Transport & Logistics Awards and The Hive at Rock Werchter, among many others. Bart De Vos also specialises in venue creations, developing event venues for the market.


Image and food pairing Many high-tech solutions such as table projections are typically only available to large companies with big budgets. But Creationz has found a way to make expensive technology more accessible. The company is currently running ‘Living Tables’ at the Napoleonzaal, which has space for up to 400 guests. For events held here, clients can incorporate custommade audio-visual table presentations to blend with the food service. “One of our regular venues allowed us to keep the projectors mounted in the Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  73

Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Event Planning & Locations  |  An Exceptional Experience

An atmospheric event at Hertoginnedal organised by TMH. Photo: Wim Dewulf

Turning sales events into immersive experiences TEXT: EVA MENGER

Sales-driven events and exhibitions have always been vital to commercial success, but for Belgian ‘Live Communication’ agency, The Media House, there is more to it. In creating immersive experiences that leave long-lasting impressions on their client’s customers, they know how to help generate measurable returns time and time again. “It’s all about experiences these days,” founder Christopher Van Hemelryck-Bray says – a realisation that made him stand out when starting his business back in 2008. Slap bang in the middle of the financial crisis, it was a time when many other events companies were disappearing, but The Media House was here to stay: “Constantly asking ourselves how we could reach our customers’ clients in a creative way is what made us sur74  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

vive in a time where others didn’t,” Van Hemelryck-Bray admits. Another reason for their success was being part of a larger international group. Partnering with Turret Media – a company mostly active in the Middle East − allowed Van Hemelryck-Bray and his team to help execute event communication plans for Arabic clients in Europe and vice versa. “Having this close relationship has always been a huge selling point for us, as it allows us to ensure that European, Belgian and Flemish partners are appropriately received and experienced by local cultures in the Middle East,” says Van Hemelryck-Bray. A motivated and experienced team of event managers, The Media House specialises in planning events and exhibitions from start to finish. Bringing a brand

to life is the company’s core value, and making sure that this is done through a solid, creative action plan focused on driving emotion is second nature to all employees. What is more, they are experts in helping their clients raise awareness of upcoming events by creating eye-catching logos, creative invitations, online registration systems or any other administrative tasks needed to enhance the overall impact. The Flanders Investment & Trade Export Fair. Photo: Flanders Investment & Trade

Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Event Planning & Locations  |  An Exceptional Experience

A particularly impressive achievement is the launch of the biennial FIT-Exportbeurs, an award-winning exhibition where knowledge is promoted and experiences are shared. “The first edition was a tremendous success,” Van Hemelryck-Bray confirms. “We flew in dozens of international experts collectively filling up 36 educational and inspiring seminars and workshops, plus an additional 3,600 one-on-one meetings, attracting 1,500 Flemish professionals who all came to learn about international business. Being able to bring such ideas from paper to reality is what I would say defines us as a company.” In addition to corporate, sales-driven events, Van Hemelryck-Bray and his team are also devoted to charitable causes. In close collaboration with Dr Michel D’Hooghe and other partners, The Media House has been organising fundrais-

ing events for Casa Hogar since 2015. Founded during the World Cup hosted by Mexico in 1986, this charity was initiated by the Belgian football union who was overwhelmed by the country’s child poverty and thus started looking into providing shelter for Mexican street children. A few decades later, Casa Hogar has offered support to 500 homeless children, and thanks to a large network of sports and business professionals, that number is still growing every day. “Last year, we organised a large gala dinner for the charity’s 30th anniversary. It was a wonderful evening, during which we also held an auction including signed football shirts of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. I’m proud to say that hosting events which make guests feel good while also helping the less fortunate comes naturally to us,” says Van Hemelryck-Bray.

Virtual reality is becoming an increasingly popular element of events. Photo: Wim Dewulf

The WoW water fun park in full action. Photo: WoWpark

Client event for TNT. Photo: Wim Dewulf

A family day for Krinkels organised by TMH. Photo: Wim Dewulf

For the future, The Media House is hoping to experiment even more. Van HemelryckBray: “We have recently launched WoWPark, a mobile water fun park that can be installed in various open waters throughout Belgium. It’s proven to be a great asset to family and team building days, which we’d like to see much more of. Another rapidly growing trend is the integration of technology and events, and virtual reality, in particular. For some clients, this is an absolutely crucial element, and we have already worked with augmented reality, robots and bespoke apps quite a bit, but I am incredibly keen to make this a focus point over the next few years.”

Web: /

The Casa Hogar 30th anniversary gala diner. Photo: Wim Dewulf

The FIT Export-beurs is organised once every two years. Photo: Flanders Investment & Trade

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Your event in good hands TEXT: FRANK VAN LIESHOUT  |  PHOTOS: D’M&S

As Belgium’s leading independent event organisers, D’M&S will ensure your conference, seminar, incentive or trade show delivers on substance, creativity and production values. “For any event you plan, you need to ask yourself; ‘what is the message we need to get across and how can we turn this into a memorable and positive experience for the visitor?’,” says D’M&S events unit manager Pieter Derudder. Founded in the 1980s as a sole-trading business by the present CEO Arne Daquin, D’M&S has grown into Belgium’s leading independent cross-media communications agency, with 70 staff working across online, offline and events marketing. The company started off as a traditional advertising agency, adding online services in the 1990s and events from 2000 onwards.

International clients A little over 15 years later, they are now working with a broad roster of middle-market and large corporations across all business sectors, ranging 76  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

from breweries to hospitals and publishers, and from pharma to foods, tech and construction. “We work for some of Belgium’s biggest brands, businesses and organisations,” Pieter smiles. “They include large, international Belgian corporations such as Haacht, KBC and Besix, as well as multinationals from around the world, including Ferrari, Atos, AEG, Agfa and Plastics Europe, to name but a few. But also branch organisations such as the Belgian employers’ federation VOKA, charities such as the Belgian Cancer Fund, and hospitals and universities call on our expertise to help them organise their events.” “These clients expect us to come up with a solid, creative and practical plan for an event that will inspire their guests, add value to their brand and help them in their efforts to realise their mission. At the same time, they also expect us to ensure everything runs smoothly, not just during the event itself, but also before, during the run-up, and in communications with visitors and participants after the event. After

all, organising an event is an investment, so when you take the credits, you must also make sure you reap the rewards.”

End-to-end service D’M&S Events offer their clients a full end-to-end service, from hiring a suitable venue to effective promotion of the event and from organising top-notch catering to shooting high-end video projections. As part of the D’M&S Group, the events organisers have the full creative support from their in-house copywriters, artdirectors and video producers to ensure complete control over the event’s production and communication. “It means

Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Event Planning & Locations  |  An Exceptional Experience

that our creatives can help our clients turn their message or theme into a strong concept and an imaginative, appealing and effective campaign, using all the tools, media and channels that you need to get the publicity you want in the runup to the event,” Pieter points out. “And during the event, we can shoot a video registration, interviews on camera or a mood video to send out after the event to participants and thank them for their contribution.”

Surprise element Pieter can think of a thousand and one ways to host a conference, so it is his team’s job to help the client to make the right choices. “This is why we take time to discuss the values they want to promote and the image they want to project, as well as what they want to offer their visitors in

terms of plenary presentations, breakout sessions and their level of participation. On top of this, we will also look to add a surprise element or an extra dimension. In the end, the trick is to grab the visitors’ interest, surprise them, inspire them, or even turn them into ambassadors for the client’s event and brand.” If the client asks them to, D’M&S also get involved in the content of the conferences or seminars they help organise. “This could be support in putting together the programme, or booking a keynote speaker to create more buzz and give the event that extra bit of punch.”

Meticulous planning While dealing with all these creative activities, Pieter’s team closely monitor the production process, making sure everything

is running to schedule and leaving as little as possible to chance. “This is why we meticulously plan every detail, why we create a focus and a content calendar, arrange site visits, drawing sessions and above all, keep in constant contact with the client, either face to face or in conference calls. From the moment clients give us the green light to organise their event, they will have direct access to the events project manager as well as the communications account manager, to make sure they are in the loop at all times and know that they are in good hands.”

D’M&S are headquartered in Bruges, with offices in Antwerp, Brussels, the Netherlands and France. Web:

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Events with an extra dimension TEXT: MYRIAM DIJCK  |  PHOTOS: CONCREAT EVENTS

Unusual venues, spectacular audiovisual design and a stunning overall production, these are the components that create the most memorable events. Concreat Events in Antwerp realises unique projects at exceptional locations. “Founded in 2013, our young company has very quickly created a solid reputation among a series of European A-brands. We work very closely with our clients to really get to know their DNA in order to optimally translate our clients’ messages. But above all, our clients choose Concreat Events for our creative expertise, and our transparency,” says company owner Steven De la Ruelle. Transparency towards clients is very important. This is clearly translated through very detailed budgets, but in this digital age, Concreat likes to go some steps further. Conceptual setups for bigger events are rendered into a 360° environment, allowing clients to literally walk through the 78  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

design of an event with VR-glasses, enabling them to give detailed feedback and approval on the concept. On the other hand, a successful event is not merely about incorporating all kinds of bells and whistles, according to event manager Sarah vanden Bulcke. Instead, the right creative elements can completely determine the success of an event. She says: “We recently launched a campaign for a client, using a small stage, some tapestry and the right visual. For our client, this spot-on setup created maximum impact for a very limited budget.” To that, Concreat adds maximum flexibility and expertise. Fellow event manager Anouck Granjé says: “We want to be a perfect events-supplier for our clients, offering a very wide range of in-house knowhow in events, event safety, video production, scenography and graphic design. All of these skills are translated into seamless, A to Z productions. For us, a

maximum of in-house services equals a maximum of flexibility towards our clients.” Recently, Concreat also organised the world premiere of a new model of a premium car brand in Brussels. During the car’s unveiling, a holographic effect made by a triple-layered video projection merged with a live-action scene which literally brought the video to life. De la Ruelle: “We like to add well-thought-out show elements to an event, and this one actually got a standing ovation.”


Translating your story into a sparkling event +32 486 744 804

Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Event Planning & Locations  |  An Exceptional Experience

Award-winning ‘out-of-the-box’ event consultants KonseptS TEXT: PAULINE ZIJDENBOS  |  PHOTOS: KONSEPTS

Freshly awarded the silver award within an international cohort of event organisers, KonseptS founder Sophie Naze is glowing. This international recognition is like a crown bestowed upon her work. It reflects her open outlook on life, where nothing is too much in order to create a tailor-made concept that creates lasting memories of conferences and corporate events. No theme is too difficult or crazy for Sophie’s team: as many companies, from smaller firms to multinationals, have already discovered. The best event award has not only put KonseptS, but also Belgium, in the spotlight. KonseptS translates your requests for their help with the organisation of various aspects of your events into truly original concepts. Sophie and her team can come up with product launches, jubilee celebrations or team building exercises to incorporate your newly adopted management strategy. Although KonseptS can complete your whole event cycle from A to Z, it can also take

on parts of the promotional process and offer advice on ‘bringing people together for content and sending them home with an emotion’. KonseptS offers its services on a consultancy basis, which is unique in this sector. Ask KonseptS clients and they will say that Sophie and her team always come up with something different: they manage to create an exceptional experience every time. Some applications of their ideas even start with entertainment in the car park and a live band on arrival in the venue, others focus on creating a memorable artwork to take home and hang in the office. KonseptS can help with any step on the way to a successful event, no matter how small or large it is. Ring the bell for KonseptS’ attention! Web: Facebook: KonseptS no-nonsense event consulting


Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Event Planning & Locations  |  An Exceptional Experience




How many elephants can you fit in one room? The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) is a leading business voice in the UK. I have decided not to renew my membership. As I write, the United Nations Climate Change Conference is meeting in Katowice. There is widespread agreement outside the White House that if we do not at the very least cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent before 2030, we shall reap catastrophic consequences. The current signs are that we shall fail. Also in the news this morning are images from Paris of the Arc de Triomphe disfigured by the graffiti of the ‘gilets jaunes’ protesting against increases in fuel prices. Ranged against President Macron and his declared commitment to moving France away from carbon dependence, are rioting representatives of the old economy, feeling profoundly threatened by a shift away from jobs dependent on fossil fuels. The European Trade Union Institute is right to demand a ‘just transition’ and the implementation of ‘eco-social policies’ to prevent the burden of this kind of change falling on the most vulnerable.

The unions are thinking about these issues a lot more than the ILM. When I look through the ILM magazine, Edge (‘Inspiring Great Leadership’), there is barely a mention of the role that business is playing in destroying the environment and creating inequality. Nothing about carbon targets, nor plastic profligacy. Nothing about executive pay, nor the lack of worker participation.



she’ll still be able to watch videos of them.” I could have wept. Please let us all make our resolution for 2019 to change the way we live our lives and commit to achieving sustainability and social inclusion, and let us pressure business to do the same. ILM, if you do this too, I will renew.

The ILM talks a lot about authentic leadership but it is completely ignoring the giant elephants in its room. Its acceptance of the status quo actually signals that greed is good. Really courageous business leaders should be putting these, the two major and connected challenges of our time, right at the top of every business agenda and so should the ILM, rather than filling its columns with tosh about neurodiverse workforces and the like. What kind of world are we leaving for future generations? I recently told a Maltese finance manager that I was worried my granddaughter would never see orangutans in the wild. “You can’t stop progress,” he said, “but never mind,

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

Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  81

Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Repas Catering

‘Serving your guests something special’ TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: REPAS CATERING

Whether it is a high-end business dinner for 20 people or a company party with 800 attendees, Repas Catering makes sure the food is of high quality and produced locally in a sustainable way. “We love to challenge ourselves to make the food at your event perfect,” says Jeff Philipsen, owner of Repas. His love of cooking and organising events is what made Philipsen start Repas Catering in 2007. “Although I had a different background, cooking was very important to me. So I enrolled in a oneyear course at Ter Duinen Hotel School in Koksijde, Flanders. My business partner and I worked in different restaurants, but we were often asked to cater events. So we decided to create a business out of it.” Repas has been growing ever since. “In 2014, we built our own kitchen in Malines, where we prepare the menus. Now we have a staff of 11 and cater events throughout the country.” Unlike many others, Repas Catering does not work with predetermined formulas. 82  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

“We provide an à la carte service and only use honest, local and seasonal products. Our chefs are classically trained, but they like to give each dish their own little twist. Just to make them more personal.” Together with the client, Philipsen will look at what goes best with their event. “For instance, for a wedding styled after dance event Tomorrowland, we came up with the idea of using ten food trucks, which offered high-end street food to the guests. And at the Brussels Autosalon we provided a walking dinner for different stand holders.” Repas also helps with the location’s decoration. “We do not have our own venue, but we can suggest the locations we have close contact with, and we also work a lot at the clients’ locations. Thanks to our mobile kitchen, we can get everywhere, even to a remote, open field or to the woods,” he says. “We see ourselves as a one-stop-shop when it comes to event catering and decoration,” explains Philipsen. Repas helps in the planning stages, prepares all the

food in their kitchen in Malines, and serves everything to your location. They also provide staff to make guests feel as comfortable as possible. “Each event is a challenge for us, we want to give our clients the best food experience and serve them something special,” smiles Philipsen.


Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Flemish Legal Profession

You don’t choose a law firm for their fancy building.

Nor for the looks of its partners.

Nor for its high-tech classification system.

But because they really care.

The law firm that truly cares TEXT: EMMA WESSELING  |  PHOTOS: PORTELIO

Business law can seem impersonal and cold, but at Portelio this is most certainly not the case. The law firm, based in Belgium, has multiple offices to make sure they are always close to you and they always have the best interests at heart. Portelio was founded in 2013 out of a mutual desire to have truly personal client contact. The three founding partners found that this was very difficult at the larger law firms they previously worked at. Their team consists of 13 lawyers that share the same philosophy – they want to make business law accessible and provide concrete service to their clients. This does not only mean that they assist their clients as much as they personal-

ly can. Timothy Van de Gehuchte, one of the founding partners, says the firm works closely with other service providers. “We do not hesitate to involve our elaborate network of other service providers in any challenges that are not our core business. And, perhaps our greatest quality is how much we really care about our clients and their legal needs.” Portelio specialises in offering advice, litigation and mediation in the field of business law. This includes company law, bankruptcy and restructuring, corporate governance, trade practices, intellectual property, distribution law, labour law, fashion law, financial law, real estate and civil liability. However, they do not pretend to have specialist knowledge in every field of law and will not hesitate to

call upon their large network of firms that do have that specialist knowledge, working together to make sure the client has the best possible outcome. Business law may seem like a cold, hard world. Portelio attempts to bring a human touch to this field. Not only by working together and helping clients to the best of their abilities, but also by valuing each and every colleague for their contribution to the firm. They value a pleasant working atmosphere and never underestimate the importance of emotion in a professional environment.


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Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Calendar


online privacy for an open, evidence-based forum. Policy makers, academics, industry leaders and civilians discuss the importance of protecting data and learn how to ethically operate in that reality.

Photo: © CPDP

Kickstart Conference 14-15 January, Amsterdam, the Netherlands The technology sector is changing faster than ever. At the Kickstart Conference, industry leaders look back on how their world has changed in the past year and take a peek into the near future.

and making valuable contacts, enhancing their local economy.

Computers, Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) conference 24-26 January, Brussels, Belgium As much as we love computers, we have to be careful with them. The annual CPDP congress brings together all stakeholders of

Week of the circular economy 14-18 January, the Netherlands In a world with limited resources, circularity is key. During the Dutch week of the circular economy, early devotees of sustainable entrepreneurship show the world how it is done. In all corners of the Netherlands, companies open their doors for workshops, discussions or a look behind the curtains.

People’s Business 23-24 January, Rotterdam, the Netherlands A new year comes with new challenges and alliances. At the People’s Business networking event, entrepreneurs from the metropoles of Rotterdam and The Hague kick off the year by fraternising 84  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

Skyline Rotterdam. Photo: © NBTC

Omnichannel X 30 January – 1 February, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Brands must connect with their audience – now more than ever. Omnichannel X is the first conference in the world that helps you achieve just that. For three days, designers, writers and marketers are connected by their common love for telling stories and using the right media to do so.

Photo: © Kickstart

Discover Benelux  |  Educational Profile of the Month  |  Belgium

A unique international school in the heart of Brussels TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTO: BRUSSELS INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC SCHOOL

Located in central Brussels – just behind the European Institutions – Brussels International Catholic School (BICS) offers a wholly bilingual English and French curriculum for pupils aged from two and a half to 18.






A truly international community, BICS counts more than 40 different nationalities among its 650 pupils. The journey begins in pre-primary (two and a half to six years), where pupils usually focus on reading and writing in French, with spoken English. Pupils who complete primary school (six to 12 years) will be bilingual by the end of the sixth year, with teaching split equally between both languages and specialist teachers on hand to support those with limited English or French. BICS secondary school offers the International GCSE curriculum, while students in sixth form follow the International A level curriculum. The school has also begun the procedure to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB), even-

tually giving sixth formers the chance to choose between A Levels and the IB programme. BICS combines academic success with a warm, family environment and Christian values. Students are motivated to fulfil their own individual potential. “BICS stands for academic excellence, but the underlying ethos of the school is that happy children achieve more,” explains headmaster Canon William Hudson. Teachers work with families to ensure pupils not only have high academic expectations, but that they also develop intellectual interests that will last into adulthood. Pupils enjoy a host of extra curricular activities, ranging from rugby to cinema club. Art and drama are particularly strong areas, with a production of The Sound of Music on the agenda for this year. “It will be almost to a professional standard,” smiles the head.

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0475 61 42 96 24/7 ASSITANCE



The city that has it all With its world-class museums, countless cultural attractions and charming canals, Amsterdam is a perennially popular city break destination for good reason. This month, we shine a light on some of the Dutch capital’s most unmissable attractions. PHOTOS: NBTC HOLLAND MARKETING

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Discover Benelux  |  Tourism  |  All Eyes on Amsterdam

Interior. Photo: © Hans Roggen

Susanna Mälkki. Photo: Simon Fowler

Photo: ©Hans Roggen

The world’s best acoustics TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

In the heart of Amsterdam, within a stone’s throw from Rembrandt’s legendary The Night Watch, rises one of the world’s most prestigious concert halls: Het Concertgebouw. Its phenomenal acoustics and top-notch concerts attract over 700,000 music lovers every year. An evening in Het Concertgebouw is a true experience. The breathtaking neo-classicist music temple underwent extensive restorations in the last 15 years and looks better than ever. Its four halls − which respectively seat 2,000, 437 and two times 100 spectators − are widely praised for their extraordinary acoustics. “We don’t have one seat with inferior sound,” director Simon Reinink emphasises. “On every spot in all four halls, you hear the orchestra superiorly.” To achieve this, the architect got inspired by the rectangular designs of Vienna’s Musikverein and Leipzig’s original Gewandhaus. Combined with some lucky coincidences, his design resulted in some of the best acoustics in the world.

This spectacular sound lures the world’s greatest musicians to the Dutch cultural temple. Every year, about 700 concerts take place within its walls, good for over 700,000 sold tickets. “Our brochure has something for everyone. Besides the many classical performances, we also programme jazz, pop and family concerts. We offer free performances but have concerts of world-class artists as well.” To involve a broad audience, they embrace the changing population of their country. In between the classical, Western repertoire, they make room for more exotic performances too. “On 11 January, Khaled performs in our big auditorium. As an Algerian superstar, he mostly attracts people with North-African roots. It is nice for us to reach these audiences as well.” Of course, there is also room for female excellence within Het Concertgebouw’s walls. More and more women now make a career as a professional musician or conductor and find their way to Amsterdam. “One of the concerts I look forward to most this season has a female

lead,” Reinink explains. “On 21 May, the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will perform here. Both their conductor, Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla, and their solopianist, Yuja Wang, are young, but incredibly talented women. It is an honour for us to have them.” They are just two examples of the young blood within classical music. “On stage as well as in the audience, we see the number of young people increasing. I am not afraid for the future of classical music. This art form is just too beautiful to disappear.” Yuja Wang. Photo: © Simon Van Boxtel


Issue 61  |  January 2019  |  87

Discover Benelux  |  Tourism  |  All Eyes on Amsterdam


Have you always wanted to be an inventor? Touch everything in a museum with your hands? Or even better: discover and invent in a museum? Then NEMO sounds like the perfect place for you. At their latest exhibition you can build your own sorting-machine to organise your holiday ornaments or make your own cog wheels and see how they move when you turn them on. Invention is at the tip of your fingers! Rather than just providing its visitors with information, NEMO stimulates their curiosity by letting everyone participate in challenging and fun workshops and quirky experiments. “We want to encourage our visitors to ask themselves questions about technology, and not just give them information. We want them to join us in the process,” explains Jasper Ongkiehong from NEMO’s marketing and communication department. Situated not far from the bustling city centre of Amsterdam, is the museum 88  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

of NEMO, which is a striking building in itself. Rising high above the skyline of Amsterdam, the enormous sea-coloured building houses an incredible world of science. Visitors of all ages can immerse themselves in laboratories, scientific workshops and fun experiments whilst learning more about science and technology. From 22 December until 6 January, visitors will be able to enjoy extra activities, experiments and winter-themed experiments. Put on a pair of safety glasses for several experiments at the laboratory, or find out which almond paste actually contains real almonds, or how and why salts are used on the roads during winter months. In addition to the experiments, NEMO visitors can enjoy the spectacular Chain Reaction Demonstration. Furthermore, visitors can also continue their experiments back at home as NEMO offers a variety of tests and explanations on their website’s ‘explore’ page. Can you actually feel what you are hearing,

like your own voice? Or why are some animals smarter than others? To make science and technology interesting for everyone, the museum offers a diverse, wide range of permanent and interactive collections on topics varying from water to puberty, lightning, and many things in between. At NEMO you can do almost everything: become a professor or cycle into the universe. But the highest point of the museum is actually the high point of your visit. Named the highest city square in Amsterdam, NEMO’s rooftop is home to the open-air exhibition Energetica, which shares information about wind, sun and sustainable energy. Furthermore, the rooftop houses a terrace and a restaurant, where guests can enjoy a delicious lunch whilst overlooking the magical winter wonderland and beautiful skyline of the Dutch capital. Web:

Discover Benelux  |  Tourism  |  All Eyes on Amsterdam

A playful journey through Amsterdam TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: WENDY VAN LEEUWEN

Let your next city trip be more than a walk between hotspots. Wander through secret passageways, interact with locals and learn about the city’s history, arts, food and other curiosities. Go where no tourist has been before. The digital discovery games of Secret City introduce you to all of Amsterdam’s hidden treasures. In 2016, two female entrepreneurs from Amsterdam developed discovery games to make city tripping playful. With nothing but a smartphone, Secret City Trails sends both locals and travellers on urban treasure hunts. “Instead of looking down at your phone for directions or

recommendations, our games challenge players to look up and around, and interact with the city,” co-founder Wendy van Leeuwen explains. The games – which are played through your phone’s browser – serve you riddles that guide you from one hidden place to the next. “As you crack the riddles, we’ll share local tales with you and recommend our favourite spots to eat, drink or visit; in case you fancy a break.” Players can choose between games in the centre or in more off-the-beaten-path areas. “We have designed several adventures that take some distance from the usual highlights and let you discover another Amsterdam in the suburbs and even the forest surrounding the city.”

After two years of spectacular growth, Secret City Trails is active in 17 European cities. “Since we aren’t natives in all these cities, we team up with local game builders. Everyone can create games for us in their hometown and, in return, they receive half of the revenue we make on it.” Promo code: Use DISCOVERBENELUX for 15 per cent off.


Thriller Live. Photo: © Sven Damer

Out & About Make ‘live life to the fullest’ your 2019 resolution and start today, because the Benelux kicks off the new year with many exciting events. Scream from the bottom of your lungs at the first music festival of the year or make yourself comfortable in the red velvet surroundings of the cinema. And you will not go hungry this month with ‘appleboles’, sausage rolls and Belgian beer in all corners of the low countries. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

A traditional apple bole. Photo: Foton-Bakkerij Demedts

Brussels Jazz Festival 10-19 January, Brussels, Belgium One week a year, an inspiring, jazzy soundtrack drowns out the hectic city noises of Brussels. In the cultural temple Flagey, Brussels Jazz Festival features international heroes as well as young, Belgian prodigies. This year, Lisa Simone (yes, the daughter of Nina) comes to show the world that musical brilliance runs in her family.

for artists like Dua Lipa. Away from the main stage, the festival also hosts multiple award shows and a congress for the industry.

Glorious Delft Blue 18 January – 30 June, Delft, the Netherlands While the colour of all the Netherlands is orange, the city of Delft is undoubtedly blue. The iconic blue-and-white china which has put the city on

the map celebrates his 365th birthday this year. At the exhibition Glorious Delft Blue, cups and vases map out the unique, elegant and crafty grandeur of the Dutch golden age.

National Tulip Day 19 January, Amsterdam, the Netherlands National Tulip Day is the traditional start of the Netherlands’ tulip season. During this day,

Verloren Maandag 14 January, Province of Antwerp, Belgium The first Monday after the first Sunday after Epiphany, the region of Antwerp celebrates Verloren Maandag, or lost Monday. Traditionally, people go to the bakery to buy warm sausage rolls and ‘appleboles’, baked apples with candy sugar, wrapped in puff pastry. Your postChristmas diet will have to wait until Tuesday.

Eurosonic Noorderslag 16-19 January, Groningen, the Netherlands Hidden in the high-north of the Benelux, Eurosonic Noorderslag is a hotbed of undiscovered musical talent. The festival features solely European artists and was a big steppingstone

Brussels Motor Show.

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar Amsterdam’s Dam Square becomes a beautiful garden with nothing but the Dutch national flowers. During the morning, you can marvel at the colourful carpet of flora. Then, during the afternoon, everyone can pick themselves a free tulip to add a touch of spring to the cold winter days.

Brussels Motor Show/Dream Cars 19-27 January, Brussels, Belgium Belgian car lovers get a ‘double bill’ in January. Both the Brussels Motor Show and Dream Cars park in the halls of Brussels Expo at the same time. The first one introduces you to all that is new in the world of cars and motorcycles, while BRAFA. Photo: © A2pix-FBlaise-ECharneux

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the second one takes you on a ride along some of the world’s most exclusive cars. In case you want to buy a car, this particular salon traditionally guarantees you the best deals of the year.

International Film Festival Rotterdam 23 January – 3 February, Rotterdam, the Netherlands Rotterdam’s annual cinema celebration connects upcoming talent with established filmmakers and even performance artists. This unique get-together from on and off-screen prodigies is an ideal occasion at which to im-

merse yourself in the cinema of today, as well as that of tomorrow.

Brafa Art Fair 26 January – 3 February, Brussels, Belgium Brafa is Europe’s finest fair for those hunting for antiques and art. In the picturesque setting of Tour & Taxis, art dealers present 10,000 to 15,000 ancient treasures and contemporary masterpieces to potential buyers. Even if you do not plan to invest yourself, a trip to Brafa is just as amazing as an afternoon in your average museum.

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

Lisa Simone. Photo: © Alexandre Lacombe

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Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar Photo: Delft

Thriller Live 30 January, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg The King of Pop’s music is alive and coming to Luxembourg. During this spectacular live show, the biggest hits of Michael Jackson are brought back to life by impersonators and an incredible dancing ensemble. Enjoy the show, sing along and ‘don’t stop till you get enough’!

Bruges Beer Festival 2-3 February, Bruges, Belgium Belgium and beer are inseparable. The country brews over 1,200 different types. During the Bruges Beer Festival, you can taste 350 of them with Belgium’s most majestic city as a backdrop. 80 breweries set up stalls in the city for a tasting or a passionate chat about all things beer. In many restaurants, special beer menus will top off your refreshing weekend. 94  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

Eurosonic. Photo: © Jorn Baars

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  BRAFA Art Fair

BRAFA 2018 Samuel Vanhoegaerdn Gallery. Photo: © A2pix-FBlaise-ECharneux

BRAFA 2018-Stand Omer Tiroche Gallery. Photo: © Emmanuel Crooy


One of the world’s most prestigious art fairs TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL

When it comes to the arts, Brussels has long played an important role on the world stage, be it as home to major museums, a centre of Art Nouveau or as a contemporary art hub. It is also home to BRAFA – one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious art fairs and a major event in the international art calendar. Created in 1956, the nine-day-long Brussels Art Fair, held from the end of January to early February, is famous for attracting many of the top galleries around the world and the breadth of styles on show. In 2019, the 133 exhibitors showing at BRAFA will include galleries from London, Paris, Munich and Marrakech as well as Moscow and New York, showcasing a huge range of styles from Ancient Egyptian, Classical and Islamic Art, tribal art and Meissen porcelain to Impressionist works, modern Russian and Soviet art to 20th century design and contemporary art and

sculpture. There will also be medieval and Renaissance art, Old Masters and antique tapestries as well as Art Deco and Art Nouveau jewellery and Belgian comic strips. Quality is ensured by a rigorous vetting process. Before the fair opens to the public, every single one of the ten to 15,000 artworks and pieces is vetted by an international committee of over 100 eminent experts to verify their authenticity, quality and condition. Covering some 15,000 square metres, BRAFA is held at Tour and Taxis, a vast and stylishly renovated complex of 19th century warehouses surrounding a former train station, only ten minutes from the Belgian capital’s magnificent Grand Place. Every year, the Fair attracts some 65,000 visitors from around the world, from major art collectors to new buyers and the 64th edition in 2019 looks set to be equally as successful.

BRAFA’s annual Guest of Honour in 2019 will be eminent British duo Gilbert & George, who will present five recent largescale works placed at various locations throughout the fair. Their quirky vision of the world should be a perfect fit in the land of surrealism.

BRAFA 2018-Stand Galerie Patrice Trigano. Photo: © Emmanuel Crooy


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Gaasbeek Castle will be the venue of the ‘Feast of Fools: Bruegel Rediscovered’ exhibition. Photo: © Luc Bohez


The world of Bruegel Continuing a three-year programme, Flanders will be hosting multiple events celebrating the 450th anniversary of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s passing. After last year’s bountiful exploration of artist Peter Paul Rubens, Discover Benelux explores what Flanders has in store for 2019. TEXT: ISA HEMPHREY

Known partly for his landscapes and depictions of Flemish peasant and country life, the 16th-century painter was known as ‘Peasant Bruegel’. Although details of his life are unknown, the Flemish still consider Bruegel to have captured the essence of the country’s natural beauty and its people’s soul. “Pieter Bruegel is often seen as the embodiment of Flemish identity,” says Linde Deheegher, project manager of the Bruegel project. “This has been so since the revival of his work around 1900.” This year’s programme, following the exceptional exhibition at the 96  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, will allow visitors to see key masterpieces and experience Bruegel’s work in a whole new way using technology.

Winter It is unhelpful that we know so little of Bruegel’s life considering how detailed and complex some of his paintings are. It was Bruegel’s cartographer and geographer friend Abraham Ortelius who said that ‘in all his works, more is always implied than is depicted’. Yet since March 2016, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in

Brussels has been shedding light on his multifaceted work using virtual reality in the exhibition Bruegel, Unseen Masterpieces (until March 2020). In partnership with the Google Cultural Institute, visitors can virtually plunge themselves into Bruegel’s paintings. For example, using a Google Cardboard viewer, you can watch as his piece The Fall of the Rebel Angels (1562) becomes animated, and explore its many layers and characters that are perhaps lost in the chaos to the average viewer. This experience can also be accessed on the Google Cultural Institute

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Art

website. “For us, it is important that you can admire our Flemish masters all over the world,” says Julie Rutgeerts, project manager of the Flemish Masters project. Despite the popularity of Bruegel in his home country, there has not been a dedicated exhibition of his work in Flanders for almost 40 years. This is partly due to his paintings being so fragile and sensitive to temperature and humidity. Yet, the aim of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts is to make Bruegel’s work more accessible than ever with interactive screens throughout the museum. As Google has done for many other masterpieces, one can zoom right into a Bruegel painting and intimately observe his delicate brushwork. The museum also houses the Bruegel Box, which uses projectors on three walls of a room

to create an immersive experience in which to get better acquainted with the painter’s depicted characters. Not only does this exhibition highlight new technological opportunities available for all museums, it kicks off this year’s celebrations in Flanders. Another Bruegel event already underway is The Great Escape (until the end of 2019). Taking place in the Notre-Dame de la Chapelle, where Bruegel married and is now buried, one can find threedimensional models of characters and oddities found in his paintings. Starting in February, two exhibitions connected to Bruegel will begin at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, also known as BOZAR. One of the exhibitions, Prints in the Age of Bruegel (27 February to 23 June), concentrates on Bruegel’s back-

ground in printmaking. The artist was a collaborator with Hieronymus Cock, one of the first Northern Europeans to start a publishing company for prints. Bruegel provided over 60 designs for Cock to be made into prints. Prints in the Age of Bruegel also explores the print production of the Southern Netherlands in the 16th century. BOZAR also explores what we can learn of Bruegel through his contemporaries and the artistic climate he worked in through the exhibition Bernard van Orley: Brussels and the Renaissance (20 February to 26 May). Van Orley was a 16th-century artist who owned one of the biggest art studios of that time and therefore had a significant influence over Brussels’ art community. He can therefore be seen as an important part of understanding not

TOP LEFT: Bruegel, Unseen Masterpieces uses virtual reality and interactive screens to help visitors experience Bruegel in a whole new way. Photo: © Olivier Anbergen – I Love Light. TOP RIGHT: Many events in this year’s programme focus on recreating 16th-century Flanders. “You can experience the city, but when you experience with the mindset of its history, that is really a big added value,” says Julie Rutgeerts, project manager of the Flemish Masters project. Photo: © Bokrijk. BOTTOM LEFT: Pieter Bruegel the Elder immortalised in a statue. Photo: VISITFLANDERS. BOTTOM RIGHT: Many events in this year’s programme focus on recreating 16th-century Flanders. “You can experience the city, but when you experience with the mindset of its history, that is really a big added value,” says Julie Rutgeerts, project manager of the Flemish Masters project. Photo: © Bokrijk

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LEFT: Visitors are encouraged to explore the parallels between the Flemish countryside and Bruegel’s work. Photo: © Ekkow Photography. MIDDLE: The Church of Saint AnnaPede. Photo: © Ekkow Photography. RIGHT: One of many details that can be observed in Bruegel’s piece The Fall of the Rebel Angels (1562). Photo: © KMSKB

only Bruegel, but also the Flemish Primitives who mastered the then new medium of oil paints. As many of his works and the works of other Flemish masters can be found around Brussels, the exhibition encourages visitors to discover them using an illustrated map of the city. Also starting in February is the ‘Bruegel Walk’ in Brussels, where you can follow a map to locations linked with Bruegel. Furthermore, murals big and small, inspired by Bruegel, will be unveiled up until this June.

Spring It was the Flemish writer Felix Timmermans who wrote a biography about Bruegel and proclaimed him as ‘merely a peasant’s painter, a bon vivant’. “He proclaimed Bruegel, in the last years of the Romance era, as a painter of peasant psalms, crackling snow landscapes and eternally rustling cornfields, with his roots firmly in the Flemish clay,” says Deheegher. “The image of Bruegel as a jolly fellow, feasting with peasants and musicians, was born.” Although this image of Bruegel is known as a great misunderstanding, and he was in fact an urban dweller for most of his life, his seasonal landscapes and peasant subjects are nevertheless revered. An artist known for his landscape paintings needs a setting that complements 98  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

this. Gaasbeek Castle, in the municipality of Lennik, is a former 13th-century stronghold built as a defence for Belgium and the former residence of the Italian Visconti family. Refurbished to house the family’s large art collection, the castle is now a museum and will host the exhibition Feast of Fools: Bruegel Rediscovered (7 April to 28 July). The show explores how modern artists have interpreted Bruegel’s work, such as Otto Dix and James Ensor. Furthermore, ten contemporary artists have been invited to present their take on Bruegel’s themes in his work. Another venue that has chosen to use technology, with the help of the Berlin theatre company Rimini Protokoll, the exhibition displays a virtual reality video installation that places the viewer in the middle of the rural society Bruegel depicted. All this can be explored with a glass of artisan geuze, a beer brewed like it was in Bruegel’s time. Part of understanding any artist is exploring the time and place they lived and worked in. That is why Bokrijk, an open-air museum in Genk, is hosting The World of Bruegel (5 April to 20 October). The park and museum complex, opened in 1958, is home to 120 historical buildings from Flanders and exhibited objects to provide an exhaustive history of Flemish rural life. The World of Bruegel provides a sensory experience of this

rural history in 16th-century Flanders as Bruegel would have known it. One can see, hear, feel, smell and even taste life as the artist did. For an even more unique immersive experience, visitors can use augmented reality to find objects on the Bokrijk complex from Bruegel’s painting The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559), a depiction of a busy scene in the Flanders countryside. To combine with a visit to Feast of Fools: Bruegel Rediscovered, one can take the ‘Bruegel’s Eye’ (6 April to 31 October) route designed to rediscover the landscapes of the Flemish master. Installations from contemporary artists and designers have been connected in both a bicycle and walking tour. Each installation was inspired by viewing the Pajottenland, the countryside that Bruegel presumably used to compose his work. The tour begins at the Church of Saint Anna-Pede, which can be found in the background in Bruegel’s haunting piece The Blind Leading the Blind (1568) and ends at the watermill in Sint-Gertrudis-Pede that can be found in Bruegel’s The Magpie on the Gallows (1568).

Summer To begin the summer, the Royal Museums of Art and History will open the exhibition Back to Bruegel, Experience the 16th Cen-

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Art

tury (21 June to 21 June 2020). The show aims to immerse visitors into the 16th century, including its religious wars and battles, the new emergence of cities and the discovery of the new world. The Halle Gate, where the Royal Museums of Art and History is located, is a former medieval defensive set of walls in Brussels and was itself a witness to the 16th century. Therefore, with the help of virtual reality viewfinders, visitors can see the Brussels both Bruegel and the Halle Gate knew from the top of the building. Furthermore, artefacts in the museum’s collection from the 16th century can be seen, such as musical instruments, scientific devices, weapons and armour. “During the three years, you can really connect not only with the painter or the paintings, but also with their homeland,” says Rutgeerts.

Autumn While many museums have focused their exhibitions and events on the legacy Bruegel has left behind, Snijders and Rockox House in Antwerp have taken the

theme literally. Drawings of Jan Brueghel the Elder (5 October to 19 January) explores the works of Bruegel’s son who was himself a very successful Flemish artist of the 17th century. Made up of six parts, the exhibition takes you through Jan Brueghel’s drawings of Italy, coastal scenes, forests, animals, fruit and villages, and explores how he, like his father, revolutionised Flemish landscape painting. Like his son, Bruegel was also an artist who worked in black and white, although this is a lesser known part of his oeuvre. At the Royal Library of Belgium, a complete collection of Bruegel’s rare prints is stored and has become fragile over the centuries. But from 15 October to 16 February next year, these prints will come out of storage and will be displayed in the exhibition The World of Bruegel in Black and White, and the prosperous relationship between Bruegel and the aforementioned printmaker Hieronymus Cock will be explored further. Visitors can enjoy more interactive parts of this exhibition

by making their own artworks and seeing them printed on a 16th-century press. Including Bruegel’s Italian landscapes, prep drawings, and the seven deadly sins and virtues, the exhibition reveals the printmaking process from drawing to finished print. Returning to the Museum Mayer van den Bergh in the spring, is Bruegel’s painting Dulle Griet, also known as Mad Meg, after an 18-month restoration at the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA). Not only will the detailed brushwork and lush colours be revealed once again after years under paint and varnish, but as of 5 October, Mad Meg will be exhibited in a show exploring the two 19th-century figures behind the collections of the Museum Mayer van den Bergh and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. For more information on this year’s programme, visit:

TOP LEFT: Bruegel depicted peasant subjects on large panels that artists would normally have used to paint religious scenes or mythological stories. Photo: © – Jean-Paul Remy. MIDDLE LEFT: The ‘Bruegel Box’ installed at the Bruegel, Unseen Masterpieces exhibition. Photo: VISITFLANDERS. BOTTOM LEFT: Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted Flemish rural landscapes such as this as it was experienced by Flemish peasant society. Photo: © Luc Bohez. RIGHT: There are many details to discover in Bruegel’s artworks. Photo: VISITFLANDERS

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Baantjer. Photo: © Millstreet Films-Martijn van Gelder

The films you need to watch in 2019 TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

If films from the Benelux teach us one thing, it is that you do not have to head to Los Angeles for great cinema. In this Hollywood by the North Sea, many talented actors and directors create silver screen artworks in a variety of genres. Do not just take our word for it though, go to the cinema this year to enjoy these local masterpieces yourself.

the beloved corgi of the British Queen. As cute as he is at first sight, he is mischievous the minute you turn your back. When he gets lost in the suburbs, far away from his royal home, the dog is up for a big adventure. Though the production is Belgian, British stars like Julie Walters, Jack Whitehall and Matt Lucas perform most of the voice work. In cinemas February 2019

The Queen’s Corgi

Bloody Marie

The Belgian animation industry is bigger than ever. With talents like director Ben Stassen in their midst, the little nation of beer produces amazing animation features. Though Stassen’s last blockbuster, Son of Bigfoot, is only two years old, he is ready to take us on a new adventure; to Buckingham Palace this time. Rex is

The life of formerly successful comic book writer Marie Wankelmut has reached rock bottom. Nowadays drunk and bold, she stumbles from one conflict into the next in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, where she lives. When something gruesome happens to one of her neighbours, she has to take control of her own life again.

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This contemporary drama is quirky and raw with a strong anti-hero in the centre. German actress Susanne Wolff plays the title role, surrounded by Dutch as well as Belgian actors. In cinemas February 2019

The Barefoot Emperor With The Barefoot Emperor, directorscouple Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth continue the story they rolled out in their previous picture, King of the Belgians (2016), which told the story of the fictional Belgian King Nicolas III who illegally fled from Istanbul to Belgium upon hearing Wallonia had declared independence. In the sequel, he wakes up from a coma in a Croatian sanatorium, just to hear that all of Europe has fallen apart. The absurdity increases when Nicolas is crowned the

Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Film

first emperor of ‘Nova Europa’. Flemish actor Peter Van Den Begin once again incarnates as the determined yet confused King who is driven by devotion to his nation. In cinemas April 2019

Baantjer: Het Begin Amsterdam’s inspector De Cock is a monument in the Netherlands. The character from the Apie Baantjer books became famous because of the series about him, Baantjer. In 2006, the show finished after 12 successful seasons. Today, De Cock makes his comeback on the big screen with a prequel. It is 1980 and the inspector and his assistant Montijn are stationed in a suburb of Amsterdam. When a seemingly ordain murder lets them discover a planned attack during Princess Beatrix’s corona-

tion, De Cock fights against the clock to prevent it. Waldemar Torenstra and Tygo Gernandt play the dynamic duo in their most important case ever. In cinemas April 2019

Torpedo As the first Belgian submarine movie, Torpedo is a milestone in the country’s film history. The story is set during the Second World War and follows a team of Belgian rebels who kidnap a German submarine with Plutonium to bring it to New York. But that is not as easy as expected. With Koen De Bouw, Sven De Ridder, Joren Seldeslachts and Vic Dewachter on board, director Sven Huybrechts filled his boat with Belgium’s finest. Last year, renowned Danish director Thomas Vinterberg came to Belgium as well, to shoot his submarine film, Kursk.

The Queen’s Corgi. Photo: © Millstreet Films-Martijn van Gelder

Bastaard. Photo: © Marmalade

The AED-studio in Antwerp has one of Europe’s biggest underwater studios. In cinemas October 2019

Bastaard In the last decennium, Flanders has produced many chilling thrillers, like The Memory of a Killer and The Loft. This year, Bastaard will continue this legacy. After the death of his brother, the family of 17-year-old Daan is left broken. Then, two years later, by a strange turn of events, the homeless teenager Radja joins the family, and Daan feels something is off. The further he digs into the boy’s past, the more unsettling his discoveries get. The cast of Bastaard is a mix of Flanders’ greatest, like Koen De Bouw and Tine Reymer, along with young blood, such as Spencer Bogaert and Bjarne Devolder. In cinemas in 2019

Bloody Marie. Photo: © September Film

The barefoot emperor. Photo: © Bofilms

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Like many of you, much of my January will be taken up nursing a prolonged festive hangover – the product of an unholy amount of food and the contents of the drinks cabinet. In this delicate state, I want something fun and lively to ease me back into art. So I manoeuvre my fragile body to the Middelheimmuseum, Antwerp to see Dennis Tyfus’ new exhibition My Niece’s Pierced Knees. I suggest that there are few better cures for postNew Year blues than witnessing 13 giant, wacky, waving, inflatable tube men dance and flail in the grounds of a prestigious country estate. The image conjures an incongruous festival scene, with men wearing band t-shirts and gyrating around with contorted faces. They move, wobble and thrust to the beat of their own generators; dancers at an underground rave. Tyfus is unforthcoming in explaining his works, and open

to interpretation. Whether you see them as alternative protestors, or enjoy them for the joyous sight they are, they are guaranteed to blow the festive cobwebs away (pardon the pun). Tyfus dips his toe into many genres to sate his creative output; music, graphic design and architecture, in the case of this show. The constant has always been drawing though. Tyfus is a prolific drawer, and at the end of the exhibition, visitors can press 160 of his hand-drawn stamps into empty books to take home and keep – their own unique Dennis Tyfus for 2019! My Niece’s Pierced Knees is a glimpse into the mind of one of Belgium’s most interesting and


unpredictable artists, and is on show at Middelheimmuseum until 17 March 2019. 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.


Bredase Willem Bredase Willem is a blonde beer that can be enjoyed singularly, as a pleasant refresher, or as the cornerstone of a longer session. It is brewed in Breda, a city that has recently seen a spate of brewery openings and enjoys a reputation as a place where people head for ‘gezellig’ (sociable) weekend drinking. Breda, in the southern province of North Brabant, has strong links with the Nassau family — the ancestors of the current King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander. Several members of that aristocratic clan are buried within Breda’s Grote Kerk, a church whose tower doubles as the city icon. This beer is named after Willem van Oranje — William of Orange — who could have expected to be buried near his relatives but, because Breda was in Spanish hands when he was assassinated, was instead laid to rest in Delft. 102  |  Issue 61  |  January 2019

Willem played an early role in leading the Dutch Revolt, which was a precursor and catalyst of the Dutch Golden Age, something that galleries and museums in Holland are holding exhibitions to commemorate this year. Consequently, Bredase Willem seems a good choice for 2019’s first Beer of the Month. It would be fitting if this brew was coloured orange. Instead, Bredase Willem is a cloudy golden colour. Top fermented, it has a distinctly yeasty aroma. Yet it is refreshing, slightly sweet and mildly fruity in flavour. Coriander used during the brewing process has left just a hint of spiciness. Proost — ‘cheers’ in Dutch — to outstanding beers over the year ahead! Brewer: Stad des Vaderlands Alcohol content: Six 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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Het Roode Koper with its monumental guesthouses, English landscape garden, Michelin-starred restaurant, tennis court, heated outdoor swimming pool and private villa, is one of the most outstanding getaways in The Netherlands. New at the estate is The Poolhouse, a culinary pavilion next to the swimming pool with luxury sunbeds and a lounge terrace, where seasonal summer dishes are served. This gorgeous estate is in the woods in the Veluwe region, the largest uninterrupted area of nature in the Netherlands. Not far from cultural highlights such as Het Loo Palace and De Hoge Veluwe National Park with the world famous Kröller-Müller Museum, and just an hour ’s drive from Amsterdam.



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