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BELGIUM’S MASTER ARCHITECTS DUTCH & FLEMISH RECRUITMENT EXPERTS CELEBRATING AUTUMN IN THE BENELUX BUSINESS, DESIGN AND TOURISM NETHERLANDS

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LUXEMBOURG


Discover Benelux  |  Contents

Contents OCTOBER 2019

26

30

BUSINESS

COVER FEATURE 30 Jussen Lucas and Arthur Jussen have been national treasures in the Netherlands for many years now. From the Sydney Opera House to the Mariinsky Theatre, the sibling piano duo have performed with orchestras all over the world. We caught up with the Hilversum natives to talk about their eagerly-awaited sixth studio album, Bach, a collaboration with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta.

20

FEATURES 26

34

Ten Reasons why we love autumn in the Benelux We get ready for a Benelux autumn with an ode to the most beautiful season of the year. Think colourful cities, fairytale forests and secluded coastlines.

Belgium’s Master Architects From the decadent Art Nouveau creations of Victor Horta to the stunning skyscrapers of today, Belgium has earned its place at the forefront of cutting-edge creativity. We present our guide to the best of Belgian architecture and design, as well as getting in the mood for the upcoming World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam.

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

THEMES 10

56

50

DON’T MISS 6 64

Fashion Picks  |  8 Desirable Designs Out & About  |  70 Columns

Top Dutch & Flemish Recruitment Experts: When Only the Best Will Do Whatever the industry, the benefits of using a recruitment agency are countless. This month we profile some of the leading recruitment experts in the Benelux, as well as looking at some of the most important sectors in Flanders and the Netherlands.

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  3


Discover Benelux  |  Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 70, October 2019 Published 10.2019 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Group Print Uniprint Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Anna Villeleger Copy-editor Karl Batterbee

Debby Grooteman Eddi Fiegel Ingrid Opstad Kate Harvey Laura Gozzi Lauren Walker Matt Antoniak Maya Witters Michiel Stol Pierre Antoine Zahnd Stephanie Uwalaka Steve Flinders Stuart Forster Cover Photo © Marco Borggreve Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Katia Sfihi Micha Cornelisse Petra Foster

Feature Writer Arne Adriaenssens

Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3TY United Kingdom

Contributors Ariane Laurent-Smith Colette Davidson

Phone: +44 207 407 1937 Email: info@discoverbenelux.com www.discoverbenelux.com

Graphic Designer Audrey Beullier

Welcome to the October issue. On the cover this month are Dutch piano duo Lucas and Arthur Jussen, who have been national treasures in their home country for many years now. From the Sydney Opera House to the Mariinsky Theatre, Jussen have performed with orchestras all over the world, and have worked with esteemed conductors including Stéphane Denève, Valery Gergiev and the late Sir Neville Marriner. I caught up with the pair ahead of the release of their sixth studio album, Bach, in collaboration with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, and was struck by their synergy and shared passion for the piano. Summer may be long gone, but as the sun settles closer to the horizon and the trees display vibrant red, russet and golden hues, the landscapes of the Benelux region have never been more resplendent. Whether you are cycling through golden forests, taking a bracing stroll along the beach or revelling in a city break, you will undoubtedly be struck by the region’s warm colours and strikingly blue skies. So, in honour of the third - and arguably most beautiful - season of the year, we celebrate all things autumnal on page 26. Of course, the only downside of this time of year is the increased chance of rainfall, but there are so many cultural events going on to ensure any unexpected downpours will not dampen your spirits. In our cultural calendar we highlight some of our perennial favourites, including the unmissable Dutch Design Week, which takes place from 19 to 27 October in Eindhoven. Meanwhile, design aficionados will not want to miss this month’s inspiring architecture special, which takes a look at Belgium’s master architects. Enjoy the magazine!

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 October not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

4  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Fashion Picks

OCTOBER FASHION PICKS

Time to get back to basics! In terms of your basic wardrobe, it is important to invest in quality pieces: classic items that can be worn year after year and which never go out of fashion. We show you how to very simply look smart. TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD  |  PRESS PHOTOS

Classic turtleneck A classic turtleneck sweater is always a great staple piece to have in your wardrobe, and we love this version from Bellerose with a simple contrasting stripe at the end of the collar which adds that little extra something. Pair it up with corduroy, straight-fit trousers for an effortlessly smart look. Bellerose, ‘Dilor’ knitwear, €139 Bellerose, ‘Peeh’ pants, €129 www.bellerose.be

Smart casual Simple yet trendy, this sleeveless waterresistant jacket promises a warm winter ahead with its quilted design. Combine this unicolour piece with your favourite jumper, sweatshirt or long-sleeved polo for a casual, smart style. Eden Park, ‘H BLA DOUDOUNE SM YORIS’ vest, €195 www.eden-park.com

Always on time Accessories can take your minimal outfit to new heights, and a wrist-watch is the perfect choice. The iconic No.1 from TID Watches is designed by Form Us With Love, who produce a limited collection of iconic timepieces for you to wear everyday. It reduces the functions of a watch to the barest of essentials. TID Watches, ‘No.1’ watch, €199 www.tidwatches.com 6  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019


On trend This loose and feminine T-shirt from Selected Femme has an elegant and timeless look. A versatile asset to every style - casual or smart. Combine your top with your favourite pair of jeans and you will always be on-trend. Selected Femme, T-shirt, €60 www.selected.com

Polished look If you need to pick one coat as an investment that will serve you for years to come, then we suggest this classic belted wool coat in camel from Essential Antwerp. This timeless piece will provide every outfit with some extra polish that pulls everything together. Its relaxed fit looks great when cinched at the waist to create a flattering silhouette, but you can just as easily let it hang loose for some no-nonsense, easygoing flair. Essential Antwerp, camel belted wool coat, €496 www.essentiel-antwerp.com

Any occasion A simple pair of jeans is an essential foundation of a classic wardrobe. While most trends come and go, skinny jeans are timeless and something you can wear all year round. Wear this pair of Mud Jeans with a plain T-shirt or an elegant shirt and you are ready for any occasion. Mud Jeans, ‘Skinny Hazen’ jeans, €119 www.mudjeans.eu Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  7


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Desirable Designs

DESIRABLE DESIGNS

The game is afoot Autumn is for cocooning. And what better way to do that than by playing board games in the warm sanctuary of your living room? Invite some friends over, roll the dice and play the night away with these five captivating, Benelux-made games. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PRESS PHOTOS

1. Midnight sun As there’s no night or day on the planet Solenia, one hemisphere always lives in the dark while the other is constantly flooded in light. During this challenging board game, you help both sides to trade resources with each other. However, both sides want to receive more than they are willing to give up! €35 www.pearlgames.be

2.

1.

3.

3. Battle of the tyrants

4. Going for gold

5.

We’re in the Golden Age of business. Amsterdam is the world’s centre of arts and trade and you will want to benefit from that as well. In Chartered: The Golden Age, you establish your first warehouse in the city. Showcase your entrepreneurial mindset and zero compassion with your competition, and invest your way to victory. €49 www.jollydutch.com 2. Say it with wood Did you like Pictionary? Then you will adore Bilder! Instead of drawing what’s on your card, you build it with wooden blocks in different shapes. Some can be pretty tricky, so thinking outside of the box is an absolute must. €35 www.monkeyshinegames.com 8  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

4.

At the annual Dictator convention in Hawaii, Hitler, Stalin, Kim-Jong Un and seven other colleagues start a rat-race to take over the United States. But only one can become the uber despot! Revenge of the Dictators is a bold and quirky game for sore losers who do whatever it takes to win. €45 www.blackboxadventures.com

5. Two-in-one game With Deer Lord, you play two games at once. Not only do you challenge each other in exciting battles, but you also try to complete hidden missions without your friends finding out. Can you subtly compliment yourself or hit your head on the table in the middle of the game? €20 www.deer-lord.com


Modular Water Dwellings Grimshaw Bergen, Netherlands.

DESIGN SPECIAL

World Architecture Festival comes to the Benelux World Architecture Festival (WAF) is the world’s largest annual, international, live architectural event. It is where the global architecture community meet to celebrate, learn, share and be inspired. From 4 to 6 December this year, WAF will return to Amsterdam — marking the second time the Dutch capital has hosted the event — and there are a number of Benelux bureaux nominated in the festival’s prestigious awards programme. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: WORLD ARCHITECTURE FESTIVAL

Skypark Business Centre South Aravia Design & +FUN Luxembourg.

10  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Belgium’s Master Architects

Sustainable future WAF includes the world’s largest international architectural awards programme, dedicated to celebrating excellence via live presentations to an audience of high-profile delegates and international juries. This year’s shortlisted entries include designs that demonstrate how buildings can play a major role in a more sustainable future. Amongst the shortlist is an eco-airport in Singapore designed by Safdie architects centred around a 15,000-square-metre state-of-the-art indoor public garden, which features a 40-metre indoor waterfall falling through the centre of a doughnut-shaped glass roof, alongside 3,000 trees and 100,000 shrubs from around the globe. In the culture category, Helsinki Central Library Oodi, by ALA Architects, heralds a new era of library design where traditional functions meet modern technology, to create an almost zero-energy building with panoramic views. While there are a number of major world architects shortlisted, there are also many smaller firms competing with the big names. The shortlist ranges from private residential, to education, infrastructure, healthcare, hospitality, cultural/civic, interior and landscape projects across 70 countries. Presentations of the shortFreebooter GG-loop Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Gnodde house 70F architecture Amsterdam, Netherlands.

listed designs will be made to more than 100 international juries in front of festival delegates. Category winners will then compete against each other on the final day of the festival, contesting for the ultimate accolades of World Building of the Year, Future Project of the Year, Interior of the Year and Landscape of the Year. “We have been inspired by the levels of innovation in this year’s entries, that show the incredible range of ways in which architects are responding to the global climate and biodiversity emergencies we A la Croisée des Chemins B2Ai Neder-Over-Heembeek, Brussels.

face,” enthuses WAF programme director Paul Finch. “WAF has attracted more than 1,000 entries, for the second year in a row, from 70 countries, and we look forward to more than 500 live presentations at the Festival in Amsterdam, showcasing these exemplar projects from around the world.”

Interior design Meanwhile, INSIDE is the sister festival of WAF, and celebrates the world’s finest examples of interior design. All nominees will present their projects to distinguished international juries to compete for one of the nine INSIDE category awards. Open to all festival attendees, the presentations are followed by a live exchange between the designers and jurors. The overall winner of the World Interior of the Year will be announced at an exclusive gala dinner on Friday 6 December. Finch: “INSIDE has been a growing part of the overall World Architecture Festival programme since 2012 and continues to grow in terms of quantity and quality. We are delighted with the intriguing designs and geographical spread of this year’s entries and look forward to the live judging in Amsterdam.”

Renovation Metro Oostlijn GROUP A Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo: digidaan

Find out more about the WAF Awards and the festival at www.worldarchitecturefestival.com

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  11


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Belgium’s Master Architects

BELGIUM’S MASTER ARCHITECTS

From the decadent Art Nouveau creations of Victor Horta to the stunning skyscrapers and avant-garde urban developments of today, Belgium has certainly earned its place at the forefront of cutting-edge creativity. Read on for our guide to the best of Belgian architecture and design.

AABE — Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum AABE has become known for creating light-filled, sleek and streamlined, Modernist homes, where the natural surroundings play a pivotal role.

ODM Architecture Combining wide experience in the field with a keen eye for modern practices, ODM Architecture specialises in urban development as well as private housing.

YY architecture With a clear vision and modern style, Yoram Lipski and Yohana Kadz’s YY Architecture meet the architectural demands of their diverse range of clients across Belgium.

ASSAR Architects As one of the largest Belgian architecture firms, ASSAR Architects can take on large-scale projects across a variety of sectors; often going above and beyond the fundamentals of design.

Standing Renovation Francesca Puccio has been transforming Belgian homes since 2006, renovating them with expertise, taste, and – above all – love.

MA2

Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches d’Architecture et d’Urbanisme (CERAU)

MA2 has operated out of Brussels since 1993. The firm has specific experience in revitalising national heritage sites and has made its mark on numerous iconic buildings, many of them classified.

CERAU has a large-scale, multidisciplinary portfolio of successful projects, and is constantly seeking ways to adapt alongside advances in technology, paired with its vast architectural experience.

12  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019


The Belgium Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020. Photo: Vincent Callebaut Architectures.

Architecture that breathes life into design TEXT: KATE HARVEY

Introduction Smart, green buildings with a focus on human warmth – the philosophy of Assar Architects speaks for itself. Operating from Brussels, one might say that they have defined the architectural landscape across Belgium, with an impressive portfolio of projects that seamlessly tie cities together.

A collaborative work ethic The firm is a cooperative by name and by nature: “We’re an ASSociation of ARchitects,” explains CEO and senior partner, Renaud Chevalier. “That means we delegate projects to an office of over 140 architects, all of whom harness different skills and expertise.” As one of the largest Belgian architect firms, it can take on large-scale projects 14  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

across a variety of sectors; often going above and beyond the fundamentals of design.

Reinterpreting urban landscapes For each proposal, Assar listens and responds to the specific needs of urban areas. “The architecture of a city is not a uniform concept. There are multiple entities, both old and new, that need to work together harmoniously. This is fundamental to our principles,” explains Renaud Chevalier. For example, Assar is actively repurposing a number of commercial and residential areas across Brussels, one of which is being redeveloped into a multipurpose building to include housing, office space and a shopping precinct.

“We’re effectively reimagining the architecture of shopping centres built in the 1960s. For this project in particular, we’re aiming to create a space that connects the street with the interior to reinvigorate them,” says Renaud Chevalier. Its architecture is by no means function without form. The Möbius Towers I & II in Brussels are a fine example of Assar’s sculptural elegance. Integrated into the cityscape, they have also been well optimised from an ecological point of view.

Redefining the workplace Assar Architects has positively addressed design in the workplace across Belgium, including PwC’s offices in Diegem. Biophilic and ergonomic design are high on their agenda, and have been de-


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Belgium’s Master Architects

Standard de Liège Football Stadium. Photo: Assar Architects

PwC Headquarters Diegem – Image by Nanopixel

signed with over 4,000 square metres of terrace space.

and compact,” to give the building a sense of familiarity for patients, visitors and staff.

Renaud Chevalier explains how “design plays a large part in a society’s wellbeing,” hence the easy access to public transport for workers who are travelling to and from the nearby airport, and an in-built cycling lane.

By the end of this year, Assar is also scheduled to finish construction for the MontLegia Clinic in Liège. For this project, a medical ‘street’ has been constructed to join up the treatment units with the medical and technical departments, but also “to clearly separate hospital traffic,” explains Renaud Chevalier.

Transforming the health sector In its quest to innovate the workplace, some of Assar’s most impactful projects have undoubtedly been in the medical sector. A particularly impressive project has been the Chirec Delta Hospital in Brussels, for which construction started in 2010 and was completed in 2017. “Our guiding principle is to have a sense of purpose for the human that we’re building for. This is crucial for this kind of establishment. It has been designed, in fact, so that it doesn’t feel like a hospital upon entering.” Despite its large capacity, it has been designed to be “very concentrated

Renaud Chevalier mentions their penchant for natural light – a key element in Assar’s architectural design brief. Its ongoing renovation of the CHN William Lennox hospital is built into the magnificent wooded setting of the Bois de Lauzelle, with expansive windows opening skywards.

Building an international presence Assar certainly isn’t short of high-profile design briefs: it has recently finished up work on Belgium’s NATO HQ, and will shortly begin construction for the Stade de Sclessin football stadium in Liège.

Delta Chirec Hospital in Brussels, Photo: Marc Detiffe

The architectural firm has also been selected to represent the very best of Belgium at the Dubai World Expo in 2020, where it will unveil their Green Ark ‘smart building’ – an excellent template of its architectural prowess back in Europe. Showcasing natural light, renewable energy and the smart use of water, the ‘Belgian Pavilion’ will be completed in collaboration with the Vincent Callebaut Architectures, and is a firm nod towards Assar’s commitment to ecological issues. Assar Architects is currently in the process of opening offices across France alongside its current headquarters in Belgium. With inspiring ventures taking place both at home and overseas, it’s safe to say that the firm is creating the architectural blueprint to unite people across Europe and beyond. Web: www.assar.com

CHC MontLegia in Liège. Photo: Marc Detiffe

Möbius Towers I & II in Brussels. Photo: Marc Detiffe

Delta Chirec Hospital in Brussels. Photo: AGC

CHC MontLegia in Liège. Photo: Marc Detiffe

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  15


A conversation between architecture and nature TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: AABE

“It’s not the architect who creates a building, but the landscape around it,” says Bruno Erpicum, founder of AABE – Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum, the Brussels-based architectural studio which has been making waves around the world. The studio has become known for creating light-filled, sleek and streamlined Modernist homes, where the natural surroundings play a pivotal role. The studio has also created apartment blocks, industrial and municipal buildings in 16 countries from Belgium, France, Holland, Greece, Portugal, Spain and the UK, to South Africa, Peru and the US. However, the aesthetic simplicity of the minimalist ‘less is more’ philosophy belies the complexity of their construction. One recent project is a private home – ‘Prome16  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

nade’ – near the village of Braine-l’Alleud, some 30 kilometres south of Brussels.

low the surrounding countryside to take centre stage.

Open-plan private home

The house comprises four bedrooms, kitchen, dining room and bathroom as well as an outdoor terrace area and garage, and wherever you look, nature is not just something to be viewed from the window, but a key component, closely interacting with the building.

The owners originally approached AABE with the brief to build an open-plan private home on a large plot of land amidst the Brabançon countryside, filled with mature beech and poplar trees. “What we started with,” explains Erpicum, “was a wild, overgrown garden and our brief was to build a home. But the owners also wanted us to bring in something of the ‘terroir’ or landscape.” AABE’s response was to create a crescent shaped design, which Erpicum describes as “following a curve, like a snail’s shell”. Throughout the house, floor to ceiling glass picture windows with concealed frames and sliding glass doors al-

During the summer months, the 100-yearold beech trees’ leaves provide shade from the sun, whilst in the autumn and winter, their bare branches allow more light into the house. The house is also clad in the blue stone specific to the area, which is weatherresistant and over the passage of time, rather than becoming dulled, takes on a subtle sheen.


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Belgium’s Master Architects

To the rear, majestic poplars provide a vertical counterpart to the house’s horizontal lines, whilst cantilevered roofs also help reduce overheating in the summer. Bedrooms, meanwhile, face east in order to fully take advantage of the sunrise. However, it was the inclusion of a swimming pool which proved to be the greatest challenge for AABE. “It was easy to integrate the landscape into the rest of the house,” explains Erpicum. “The living rooms and bedrooms didn’t present any kind of problem, but when it came to the swimming pool, we spent a lot of time deciding where it would work best. Eventually, we decided to build it facing east and it worked perfectly. I’m very happy with what we achieved in the end with the house, especially the relationship between the kitchen and the living room to the natural environment, and the trees at the entrance. You really get a sense of being immersed in landscape and it’s a kind of paradise.”

The Practice Erpicum founded AABE some 20 years ago and had been working as an architect for 15 years before that. His work very much illustrates his core belief,

which he describes as “suppressing decoration but responding to proportion”, and across all of AABE’s work, you can see the influence of Modernist masters such as Mies Van Der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright as well as Belgians Henry Van de Velde and Louis de Koninck. He describes Van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion as “one of the most beautiful buildings in the world”. Similarly, Lloyd Wright’s influence and the way his buildings became embedded with their natural surroundings has been central to his approach. As a young boy, Erpicum was

taken to see Lloyd Wright’s buildings. “I almost cried entering every single one,” remembers Erpicum.

Personalised At their Brussels studio, AABE now has a multilingual team of 15 and Erpicum is passionate about using primarily traditional design methods when it comes to creating their buildings. “We always draw and design our buildings in pencil rather than using computers,” he explains. “Using a pencil allows your hand to be guided by dreams and poetry. Computer technology just doesn’t let you do that, and that’s something I believe very strongly in.” This, however, does not stop the practice’s creations from looking strikingly contemporary and up-to-date, as is their approach to client liaison. There is an emphasis on smooth, efficient and personalised service, whereby each brief is assigned a project manager who is the client’s main point of contact throughout. It is this combination of modernity and responsiveness to nature which undoubtedly defines AABE. As Erpicum concludes: “It’s never human design which wins over nature. There’s wind, sun, movement and animals, and you have to take all of those into consideration. It’s always nature which wins out.” Web: aabe.be Facebook: AABE Instagram: @brunoerpicum

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  17


Auditoire NILE. Photo: Marie-Françoise Plissart

All about attitude TEXT: COLETTE DAVIDSON

Whether creating buildings from scratch or restoring Belgium’s most revered national heritage sites, Francis Metzger adopts the same approach. Defining himself as an ‘architecte de situation’, the architect and his team put context before everything, with a pragmatic and humble process that is both respectful of the past and proactive vis-à-vis the future. A classified building, the Hotel Astoria, constructed in 1909, is legendary in the world of luxury hotels. When it was acquired by Corinthia Hotels in 2016, it had lost its splendour and no longer offered the standards of a grand hotel worthy of the name. But the new owner wanted to create a charming palace – previously lacking in the capital of Europe. That’s when MA2 stepped in. Now, CEO Francis Metzger and his team of more than 20 are working to not only create fewer but larger rooms, but have mostly reversed their positioning: the suites have been placed on the top floors, offering a panoramic view of Brussels. Opening onto several adjoining buildings, surrounding a perfectly renovat18  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

ed facade, the new larger and more comfortable spaces boast a spa, restaurants and characterful shops – all the ‘musts’ of a contemporary high-end hotel. The hotel is one of several ongoing projects at MA2, which has operated out of Brussels since 1993. The firm has specific experience in revitalising national heritage sites and has made its mark on numerous iconic buildings, many of them classified, such as Maison Autrique and Brussels central station (works by Victor Horta, the cantor of Art Nouveau), new secure entrances to the Law Courts of Brussels, Notre-Dame de Laeken Church, Solvay Library and the sublime Saint-Cyr House, one of the most photographed Art Nouveau facades in the country.

cavation in the archives, exhuming old plans and period photos, undertaking stratigraphic or chromatic analysis to detect the initial intentions of the architect, to recover the spirit of the initial volumes, the colours and the original materials, the threads of wallpapers, etc. For the Aegidium, an eclectic entertainment venue known as Diamant Palace,

Towards a recapture of identity Having sometimes been entrusted with complete ruins (such as the Château Charle-Albert) or places completely altered by the wear of time, various ownerships or vandalism, the Francis Metzger team applies a systematic method: ex-

Francis Metzger.


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Belgium’s Master Architects

which housed a Louis XV ballroom and a Neo-Byzantine concert hall, LED bulbs that would distill the same luminous vibration of bulbs from the beginning of the last century are currently being sought. The purpose of the operation is to stage and modernise the new space, while recovering its soul of yesteryear. For the flamboyant Villa Empain (an Art Nouveau masterpiece reconverted into a publicly accessible foundation), the exotic wood species that have since disappeared had to be found and replaced. No longer produced, the marble slabs of the entrances were sawn in their thickness to be split and replace the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Modern infrastructures included Using the most specialised experts, tradesmen and craftsmen, these restoration campaigns aim to recreate original splendour, while having discreetly integrated modern techniques, such as automation, necessary for a building’s current function. Built in 1904 in an eclectic style, Delune House now hosts the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates. Majestic once again, its fine restoration has invisibly integrated important elements, including security, to make it functional. And while MA2 may be best known for its restoration efforts, the architecture firm is

unique, as it specialises in both restoration and original creation. Its Balsamine Theater received successive awards at the international architecture biennales of Costa Rica and Sao Paulo. Ten years after MA2 designed two buildings on one of the campuses of the Université Libre de Bruxelles, the academic authorities commissioned the firm to design an auditorium on the esplanade that separates them. The result: between two buildings with a beaten stainless steel coating, stands a seductive black meteorite that accommodates up to 300 people.

Respect for heritage and a contemporary touch Francis Metzger has no equal in creating a dialogue between old and new, resurrecting lost identities and giving them sense. This is the case of TournaySolvay Castle, built between 1880 and 1905 and partially ravaged by a fire in 1982. Situated in a protected green zone, the completely renovated building will soon house the BEL, an interuniversity centre of excellence dedicated to physics as well as a refuge for bats. Housed in the roof and reimagined in a contemporary style, a meeting room will look up to the sky, reflecting the open ideas of those meeting there.

is the mantra of Francis Metzger. “We work more from attitude versus a specific style,” says the architect. “Styles go out of date easily, which is why I prefer to come with a particular attitude. It’s the place that dictates my attitude. It is up to us to converse with the building’s environment, and then to integrate the client’s programme, as they are a partner that we also have to listen to intensely.

Dedication reaps rewards MA2 has found immeasurable success in its unique approach. This is evidenced by the number of awards attributed to the company’s various achievements, including winning the prestigious Europa Nostra (European Union Cultural Heritage Prize) three times. More recently, the firm won the Special Jury Prize within the ‘Prix Européen d’Intervention sur le Patrimoine Architectural 2019’ in Barcelona. As the firm looks ahead to an everincreasing list of projects, with the latest being the royal greenhouses of Laeken, Metzger hopes that his work helps to preserve the soul of the city while making it more viable, liveable and sustainable. “It is important not to break the emotional link between residents and their heritage,” he concludes.

A personal touch “To take advantage of what exists to reinvent it rather than replace or destroy,”

Web: www.ma2.be

Hotel Astoria. Photo: MA2

Villa Empain. Photo: Georges De Kinder

La Balsamine. Photo: Marie-Françoise Plissart

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  19


Building global TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTOS: ODM ARCHITECTURE

Brussels-based firm ODM Architecture, named after its founder Olivier De Meulemeester, has risen to be an important player both in Brussels and throughout Belgium. Combining wide experience in the field with a keen eye for modern practices, the firm specialises in urban development as well as private housing. A look at Olivier De Meulemeester’s portfolio is enough to suggest the diversity and adaptability of his practice. ODM Architecture handles all sorts of projects, from personal villas and family homes to building complexes and apartments, offering renovation and extension services as well as construction works. But whatever the project, the philosophy remains the same: to adapt and integrate, rather than to remove and displace. Olivier De Meulemeester strives for a creative approach to construction, guided by his “respect for what has already been built” and his drive to “use what is modern in order 20  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

to highlight what is already there”. Whether working on mansion renovations or on rehabilitating a post-industrial neighbourhood, ODM Architecture always works to be a link between history and innovation, joining together the old and the new.

Creating a new dynamic This is reflected in the firm’s extensive involvement with the changing North Brussels infrastructure. Originally a heavily industrial area, it was long neglected by investors and urban developers, who tended to focus on the richer south. Anticipating the shift that put North Brussels on the map again, Olivier De Meulemeester made it one of the focal areas of his firm. Their expertise in underdeveloped areas is now sought for beyond the capital, with numerous projects being carried out further along the Brussels Canal. Bringing together administrative competence and a peopleorientated attitude to urban development, ODM Architecture projects do not

aim to modernise at all costs, but to “create new dynamic along the Canal, catering for people more than for industry”.

High-end Their catalogue of completed projects speaks for itself when it comes to showcasing the diversity of their output. The Oxygen designs, for instance, consist of high-end living complexes: some are organised around a relaxation centre and a pool; others are larger structures exploiting spatial efficiency and the use of natural materials to produce top-tier examples of modern housing. Larger-scale projects, however, also exemplify the firm’s commitment to urban development, such as the Quai de Mariemont project in Brussels, carried out over a year and intended to rehabilitate an old industrial dock, making the past tangibly relevant to the present.

Future-facing As their interest in newly developing areas suggests, ODM Architecture are future-


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Belgium’s Master Architects

facing, and so are their methods and materials. They routinely handle ecological and so-called ‘smart construction’ materials, as well as home automation tools. Well-versed in passive construction, the firm offers a modern approach to architectural concerns such as home isolation and energy management. Guided by the use of clean lines and elegant materials, ODM also make skilful use of colour to create a powerful architectural aesthetic.

Polyvalent team But in the bustling circuit of Brussels and Belgian architecture, ODM particularly demarcate themselves by their long-standing expertise and their knowledge of the administrative side. Olivier De Meulemeester’s 12 years of international experience has worked to his advantage for navigating the legalities of Belgian urban development: their specialty areas – formerly underappreciated zones such as North Brussels – are now the subject of much demand from bidders based both in Belgium and abroad. This produces a complex playing field, fraught with ample paperwork and often difficult interactions with the relevant authorities. Within this framework, ODM Architecture aims to act as a link between an investor and the commune in charge of the property. To do so, the team regularly follow further training courses to keep up-to-date with the latest regulations in the construction sector. What also sets the firm apart is that it offers an extended, step-by-step accompaniment service for investors: ODM’s polyvalent, multi-disciplinary team essentially covers the entire process of scouting, acquisition and construction.

Versatility All in all, ODM Architecture is a seasoned and versatile player in the fields of both private housing and larger urban development. Their creative and integrative approach to construction, along with their legislative fluency, will make them an ideal partner to a local or international developer – or, indeed, to those going for the living room extension they’ve always dreamed of. Web: www.odmarchitecture.com

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  21


The perfect companion for your renovation journey TEXT: LAURA GOZZI  |  PHOTOS: STANDING RENOVATION

Francesca Puccio has been transforming Belgian homes since 2006, renovating them with expertise, taste, and – above all – love. “You want a home that fills you with pride and joy. Not a home you tiptoe into, but a real home that fits your lifestyle and your dreams,” begins the Italian-born creative. Her business, Standing Renovation, breathes life into homes that have been neglected and turns them into spaces filled with personal touches and careful22  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

ly curated accents. Only 15 years ago, however, Puccio was working in IT, a decidedly less glamorous environment – until her childhood passion for all things art and design came calling. The transition from the corporate sector to a more fickle creative environment must have been daunting – yet, Puccio says the change didn’t scare her. The very day she decided she would quit her company, she was called in for a meeting and offered a redundancy package, which ended up paying for her to go back

Francesca Puccio.


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Belgium’s Master Architects

to university to study heritage conservation: “They basically paid me to leave! So I thought: this is a sign.”

A lifelong passion Puccio started working as a renovation specialist in 2004 and set up Standing Renovation in 2010, drawing upon her background in civil engineering and architecture, as well as a lifelong passion for art, style and design. “My idea was to inspire better living by providing a service that goes beyond pure architectural renovation – so a blend of advice and design work with the aim of accompanying the client through the journey of renovation, from deciding what to do to making it happen and creating a home that perfectly suits their individual needs, including furniture if they so wish.” 

Italian elegance Despite having lived in Brussels for almost two decades, Puccio says her Italian roots are at the core of her business. She credits her country of origin for the “personal touch” she says her clients appreciate – “I guess it’s very Italian, very natural, and I find it very easy to create a connection with people” – as well as her eye for beauty: “In Milan, you are surrounded by a sense of elegance, taste and style. It’s something that’s simply innate to everything I design.”

with big spaces and grand 1900s townhouses, which are her personal favourite. “My dream projects are those where I completely renovate art nouveau and art deco style Belgian homes, from foundational architectural plans to inspired interior design, creating a full project including furniture. The aim would be to sympathetically give it a second life like I do with spaces that have been underexploited, neglected, misused and sometimes almost ruined by the way they have been treated,” she says. 

Building connections With strong purpose at the heart of Standing Renovation, Puccio strives to help make life beautiful, believing that everyone deserves to be happy, especially in their own home, and that in fact, any house can become a home if it’s treated with love. Thinking back to the holiday home in Italy that her family returns to every year, she says: “Why do we sometimes feel that a house we only visit for two weeks

a year is a home? Why are we attached to certain homes more than others, even if they’re not our own?” Puccio thinks it comes down to “the energy of a place that makes you feel the love, care and reflection that people have put into it. They’ve done it not just for themselves, but for everyone to enjoy.” Any new project Standing Renovation engages in starts with a characteristically structured approach and Puccio spending time with her clients. “My aim is never to tell them what to do. It’s not about imposing my taste. Instead, I avidly listen to ensure I really understand their taste, their lifestyle, and ultimately their dreams. Translating everything they want and enhancing it to create beautiful environments. I want to create a connection with them and find out what they really want for their own space, but I always do it from a place of love, contribution and giving.”

Web: standingrenovation.com

In Belgium, however, she found the perfect canvas for her business: the architecture of Brussels. While interior designers in Italy mostly work on flats, the Belgian capital features a variety of architectural styles that Puccio reinvents and transforms.

Reimagining Belgian homes “There are a lot of houses that date back to the end of the 19th century and the early 1900s, when urbanisation really took place. Often, they have all these beautiful original features like decorated ceilings, mouldings, stained glass, yet they’ve remained quite affordable.” In Brussels and its surroundings, Puccio gets to work with elegant 1930s apartments, “very bourgeois” 1950s homes Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  23


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Belgium’s Master Architects

Vert Chasseur(YYA).

TIVOLI (Georges de Kinder).

Creative rendering and technically sound TEXT: COLETTE DAVIDSON  |  PHOTOS: YY ARCHITECTURE

With a clear vision and modern style, Yoram Lipski and Yohana Kadz’s YY Architecture have worked since 2009 to meet the architectural demands of their diverse range of clients across Belgium. The husband and wife team focuses on creating both large, multiple-owner residences and renovating private, single-family homes. The work of Yoram Lipski and Yohana Kadz is truly a labour of love. The dynamic Brussels-based architectural duo has combined forces, each focusing on their specialisations in order to create YY Architecture, a thriving business since 2009. While Lipski works primarily on multi-owner buildings and social housing, Kadz deals with private clients, often renovating personal homes and Yohana Kadz.

offering her attention to creative detail from the first layout through to the interior finish. “Even though our work is usually separate, we like to discuss our projects together and have some kind of exchange, to intellectualise them,” says Lipski. “We really aim to meet the specific demands of each client.” While Lipski’s projects normally pass through architectural design competitions, Kadz gets her clients through word of mouth. Both approaches are working well –they’ve won several architectural design competitions and have been awarded Uccle’s contemporary architecture prize twice – once for the construction of a villa and again for a home renovation. Yoram Lipski

Among their many projects in Brussels, Antwerp and elsewhere, YY Architecture has worked on several for citydev.brussels, a public service institution that tries to attract high value-added companies and middle-income households to the Brussels region. In association with a team of architects, the firm completed for citydev. brussels 240 residences in Forest, 397 residences in Laeken, and more recently, ‘Moranville II’, a multi-owner building that includes one house and three apartments. As was the case for Moranville II, many of their projects incorporate energy-saving techniques and social integration concepts like urban rooftop gardens and sustainable design. Making sure their techniques and concepts are relevant, both environmentally and in terms of client demand, is part of the challenge for YY architecture – but also part of the fun. “The three pillars we focus on are creation, meeting client needs and technique,” says Lipski. “It’s a job that is extremely fulfilling.” Web: www.yyarchitecture.be

24  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019


Discover Benelux  |  Design  |  Belgium’s Master Architects

Built on tradition and innovation TEXT: STEPHANIE UWALAKA  |  PHOTOS: CERAU & SERGE MUHIZI

Last year, the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches d’Architecture et d’Urbanisme (CERAU) celebrated its 50-year anniversary and its work on the Kigali Business Centre in Rwanda won ‘Best Refurbished Building’ at the 2018 Africa Property Investment Awards. The Belgian-based company has a large-scale, multidisciplinary portfolio of successful projects, and is constantly seeking ways to adapt alongside advances in technology, paired with its vast architectural experience. CERAU has expanded internationally, with notable projects in Rwanda and Burundi, for the Banque de Crédit de Bujumbura (BCB). CERAU was specifically chosen to work on their new offices, in partnership with Rwandan architecture company, EEACON. The company is particularly attractive to such countries due to its application of bio-climatic architecture, and its desire to use energy efficiently. There are few natural energy sources in Burundi and Rwanda: therefore, CERAU’s development of sustainability centred projects are indispensable.  By using low-tech systems in its architectural projects, jobs are created for local people; preventing a reliance on the importation of energy. For instance, CERAU encourages the use of local con-

crete makers to lessen imports and implements technologies that locals can easily operate self-sufficiently. This focus on the environmental context of building extends to integrating local architectural elements to its buildings, to help the population identify with the structure; this human consideration being at the heart of CERAU’s vision.  CERAU’s sights turn to sustainable architecture that can withstand the imminent effects of climate change with its bio-climatic projects, Soras Towers and the KBC in Kigali. The towers were built using natural air-conditioning through adjustable glass louvers, and letting in natural light using clear glass windows yet protecting from direct sun radiation with fixed concrete sun visors: as opposed to the usual tinted windows used against harsh sunlight. These architectural elements give the structure both visual and technical advantages; minimising the use of artificial lighting and maximising surrounding nature to ensure a cool interior in hot weather.  CERAU is also building ‘zero energy’ buildings, such as the Tivoli Green City in Brussels, certified by BREEAM Communities as ‘Outstanding’, to limit the impact of construction — and of the people who live there — upon the environment. By reflect-

ing on a building’s real cost regarding climate change, CERAU creates structures that last for both its clients and for the planet, using processes such as Building Information Modelling (BIM). CERAU’s main work processes in its Belgium office has been that of reflection, to allow for more opportunities to support sustainable development, from materials that are recyclable, to multi-purpose buildings to combat wasteful demolitions. Looking to the future, CERAU wants to create new projects with field-based partners in Africa to encourage them to pursue their own urban projects. CERAU draws up its structures in Belgium and brings them further afield, paying great attention to crafting sustainably built constructions that can benefit everyone.

Web: www.cerau.com

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  25


Photo: NBTC

Ten reasons why we love autumn in the Benelux TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER

Summer may be long gone, but as the sun settles closer to the horizon and the trees display vibrant red, russet and golden hues, the landscapes of the Benelux region have never been more resplendent. With its colourful cities, crunchy pavements, romantic, fairytale forests and secluded coastlines, there really is no better place to enjoy the most photogenic season of the year. 1. The colours From Luxembourg City to Brussels, the Benelux region is home to some of Europe’s leafiest cities — so you don’t even need to head to the countryside to witness the magic of autumn. Colours change from green to amber, russet and gold, with beautiful hues cloaking buildings and reflecting in the canals of cities such as Bruges and Amsterdam. 26  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

Luxembourg City’s Vallée de la Pétrusse looks stunning in autumn. Photo: Christophe Van Biesen/LFT


Discover Benelux  |  Feature  |  Autumn in the Benelux

Endives wrapped in ham is a classic Flemish dish. Photo: Visit Flanders

2. The hearty food While salads are ‘de rigueur’ in the summer months, autumn is a time to embrace the comfort food the Benelux region has in abundance. Many dishes are made using healthy seasonal vegetables such as endives, which can be enjoyed raw, braised, sautéed or grilled. The Flemish way is our favourite though – wrapped in ham and accompanied by a rich cheese sauce.

The Brussels Museums Nocturnes is an unmissable event. Photo: Visit Brussels/HiddenRaven

3. The cultural agenda Festival season may be coming to a close, but with many of the region’s word-class museums launching their winter exhibitions this month, autumn in the Benelux is oozing with cultural highlights. For example, in Belgium, The Brussels Museums Nocturnes sees an array of the city’s top museums open late every Thursday until 5 December. 4. The fruits of the harvest As we enjoy the bounty of the harvest festivals, autumn in the Benelux is all about crunchy apples, wild mushrooms and nutty endives – all of which can be found at the region’s many colourful markets. October also marks the start of game season, with venison, wild boar and wood pigeon among the most popular meats.

Fresh produce at the Marché du Châtelain in Brussels. Photo: Visit Brussels/Eric Danhier

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  27


Discover Benelux  |  Feature  |  Autumn in the Benelux

The city of Antwerp looks resplendent in autumn. Photo: Visit Flanders

5. The photo opportunities Get ready for an onslaught of Instagram photos featuring the caption #goldenhour. Taking place at both dawn and dusk, golden hour refers to the first and last light of each day, when the sunlight appears much warmer and softer. As winter approaches, the lower sun and resplendent landscape make it feel like golden hour lasts all day.

Photo: Visit Flanders

Pumpkin carving is a popular Halloween tradition. Photo: NBTC

6. The Halloween fun Halloween has become increasingly popular over the years in the Benelux region. Get ready for masquerade balls, haunted houses and Halloween club nights across the region’s major cities. And while you will spot the traditional pumpkin Jack-o’-lantern, look out for other carved root vegetables such as butternut squash in people’s windows, too.

Raise a glass to the first wine of the season. Photo: NBTC

28  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

7. The first wine of the season The Grand Duchy is famous for its wine, and the ‘Fiederwäissen’ (the first wine of the season) becomes available in early autumn. There are many Luxembourgish traditions at this time of year, such as the grape festivals, which give thanks for a good grape harvest. Towns elect a ‘grape queen’, who parades through the streets handing out wine to the crowds.


Discover Benelux  |  Feature  |  Autumn in the Benelux

The Netherlands’ beaches are even more peaceful in the autumn. Photo: NBTC

8. The secluded beaches Whether you go to the wild dune beaches of the Netherlands or one of the famous Belgian seaside resorts such as De Panne, there is no denying the restorative properties of a crisp autumn day at the coast. Once the tourist season slows down, the Benelux’s unspoiled beaches take on an ethereal air.

Photo: Visit Flanders

Enjoy cosy autumnal nights and a traditional beer. Photo: Visit Flanders

9. The cosy bars ‘Gezellig’ is a special Dutch word which evokes many of the warm feelings typically associated with autumnal activities, such as drinking beer with friends in a neighbourhood bar — make sure you visit a traditional ‘brown café’ (bruin café) for a truly authentic experience. Meanwhile, throughout Belgium, you will find charming bars which have retained all of their original charm. Think wood panelling, cosy corners and low lighting.

The Benelux region is home to a myriad of enchanting woodlands. Photo: NBTC

10. The enchanting forests From the fairytale-like Tillegem Forest in Bruges to the wonderful Bambësch Forest in Luxembourg, not to mention De Hoge Veluwe National Park in the Netherlands, the Benelux is home to a myriad of enchanting woodlands. The rich colours of the leaves contrast against the region’s huge skies, which often look like a scene from a Dutch Golden Age painting. Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  29


30  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019


Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Jussen

JUSSEN

Doing it their way Lucas and Arthur Jussen have been national treasures in the Netherlands for many years now. From the Sydney Opera House to the Mariinsky Theatre, the sibling piano duo have performed with orchestras all over the world, working with esteemed conductors including Stéphane Denève, Valery Gergiev and the late Sir Neville Marriner. Now in their twenties, the brothers are back with their sixth studio album, Bach, in collaboration with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. On the eve of its eagerly anticipated release, we caught up with the Hilversum natives to find out more. TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: MARCO BORGGREVE

“With Bach, there are lots of opinions and that’s good — but if you play Bach you need to stand strong and know where you stand,” begins Arthur, 23, explaining why he and Lucas, 26, had not rushed into a recording of the Baroque master’s oeuvre. “We needed time to find out what our opinion was. I think it was only in the last two years that we really felt mature and ready to make a Bach record. We just needed some time and experience to find out what we wanted.”

Back to Bach

Made in collaboration with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, who the siblings have a “really good chemistry” with, the album features two double concertos and six choral prel-

udes. While the music was originally written for the harpsichord, Lucas and Arthur decided they would play on the grand piano. “We chose to do it on the modern piano as it provides more possibilities,” adds Arthur. “We love the sound of the modern piano, but we play Bach on it in the style of the harpsichord. We really like this sound.” Jussen became the first Dutch artists to sign with prestigious classical music label Deutsche Grammophon in 2010, and they have already had huge success with albums of works by artists including Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, Poulenc and Saint-Saëns. Their recording of the Poulenc Double Concerto was chosen as the best recording of this piece ever made,

by the French radio programme La tribune des critiques de disques, while their recording of Mozart’s piano concertos was listed by Gramophone UK amongst ‘The 50 Greatest Mozart Recordings’. So, do they feel a lot of pressure for this new album? “We’re just very excited,” smiles Lucas. “Of course there are going to be many different opinions — you can never satisfy everyone. But I think the main thing is that we put a lot of effort into the album. We hope most people will love it, but we’re really aware that everything is down to opinion. We know we couldn’t have made the album any better than it is right now, and that’s a good feeling actually — to let it go in a sense.” Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  31


Discover Benelux  |  Cover Interview  |  Jussen

The Jussen brothers grew up in a musical family: their father, Paul Jussen, is a timpani player with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in the Netherlands and their mother, Christianne van Gelder, is a flautist and teacher. Both began piano lessons aged five, and played together from the beginning. “We had the same teacher and we lived in the same house, so we always made music together,” recalls Arthur. Their incredible talent became apparent early on, and the first time they performed for the queen of the Netherlands, they were just 12 and eight years old. The first awards at competitions followed shortly, and in 2005, the brothers studied in Portugal and Brazil for nearly a year at the invitation of Portuguese master pianist Maria João Pires.   

Photo: Peter van der Heyden

Global stars

can experience all these different atmospheres, all these different concert halls and all these different audiences.”

The pair have travelled the world with their music, performing at famous venues such as Munich’s Prinzregententheater, Moscow’s Zaryadye Hall, and the Konzerthaus in Vienna. Earlier this year, they embarked on an Asian tour, appearing in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Kaohsiung and Macao. But do they have a favourite place to play? “I don’t think we have one particular place, but the variety of all the different places is something we like very much,” enthuses Arthur. “Our Asian tour was very special. But then we went immediately to Spain, which is also very beautiful – in a different way. We feel very thankful and lucky that we

What are some of the main differences amongst international audiences that the pair have noticed? “In Holland we’re very down-to-earth and in the United States people are much more excited. That doesn’t mean the people in Holland aren’t as enthusiastic, but they show it more in the States,” explains Lucas. “In Japan, audiences are very reserved and very respectful. They applaud for a long time but there’s no screaming or standing up. In Austria they don’t scream, but they do this thing where they stomp their feet on the floor and you get this kind of earthquake effect, which is very nice.”

Photo: Peter van der Heyden

32  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

The brothers have also been pleasantly surprised to discover how popular classical music is among the younger generation in Asian countries. “Countries like Germany and Austria, which are very important for classical music and where we play very often, the audience is a little bit older, a little bit more conservative. But then you go to Asia and the audience is much younger, there are many people of our age in the hall. Classical music is really popular there among young people which is very nice,” adds Lucas.

An unbreakable bond

Spending so much time together in the studio and on the road, does any bickering ever occur between the brothers? “I mean, we have the normal stuff,” admits Lucas. “Sometimes we’re annoyed with one another when we’re a little bit tired, but its never about big things. It’s just stupid stuff when you’ve had a long flight and you’ve just arrived somewhere and have jet lag.” The brothers’ immense bond is obvious – there is no sibling rivalry here. And their synergism is undoubtedly a big factor in their success. “We’re lucky that we’ve always got along really well with each other,” concludes Lucas. “We have different characters but the same interests. We share a big passion, of course, the piano playing connects us in a very strong way. And we’re good friends. It’s not something that we really work on or try to achieve, it’s just there. I guess we’re lucky to have been born with that.”


Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  33


Photo: Visit Flanders/Koen Broos

TOP DUTCH & FLEMISH RECRUITMENT EXPERTS

When only the best will do Whatever the industry, the benefits of using a recruitment agency are countless. This month we profile some of the leading recruitment experts in the Benelux. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS AND ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: PEXELS

34  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019


Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Recruitment Experts  |  When Only the Best Will Do

THE NETHERLANDS’ TOP SECTORS Although Dutch talent can be found in all fields, they play a global pioneering role in nine sectors in particular. In these industries, they are world champions.

Agriculture and food While combining productivity, quality and safety, the Netherlands is leading the rest of the world towards a sustainable food industry.

Chemistry Today’s chemistry industry in the Netherlands focuses on relevant subjects like climate, circularity, food, mobility and health. It has, therefore, a significant global impact.

Creative industry As a country of innovators, the Dutch combine their limitless fantasy and urge to create with a fascination for new methods and upcoming platforms.

Photo: NBTC

Energy With its long history of building windmills, the Netherlands is well on its way to becoming climate neutral. Their expertise, they happily share with the rest of the world.

High-tech systems and materials High-tech is more than gadgets and luxury items. Dutch innovators create state-of-the-art solutions for a range of social challenges.

Life sciences and health In the Netherlands, top-notch healthcare is available to everyone. Yet, even more than curing illnesses, they aim to prevent them and increase quality of life.

Logistics As a well-connected country in the heart of Europe, the Netherlands proves its talent for logistics on a daily basis; on land, at sea and in the air.

Its long history in growing crops makes their produce popular at home as well as abroad.

Horticulture

Water and marine

The cultivation of both flowers and vegetables is blooming in the Netherlands.

As a water-drenched country, the Dutch are experts in protecting themselves

against it and using it to their own advantage. The power of water is never underestimated in the low countries. Read about the top Dutch recruitment experts from page 38.

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  35


Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Recruitment Experts  |  When Only the Best Will Do

THE TOP SECTORS IN FLANDERS

Photo: Visit Flanders/Koen Broos

Flanders is renowned for its high productivity, transparent trade network and superb transport infrastructure. This makes it the perfect place to do business, and the following sectors are just a handful of those which are thriving in the region.

Aerospace & aeronautics Aerospace is big in Flanders, with the region showing industrial expertise in aeronautics, astronautics and aviation.

Agribusiness Agriculture, food and supportive bio industries are important in the region, which boasts companies ranging from start-ups all the way to mature global firms.

Automotive industry The automotive industry has played an essential role in Flanders’ economy for over half a century. High-quality cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles are assembled in the region and exported across the world.

Chemicals Flanders boasts specific expertise in different areas of chemical production, R&D, transport and more, with some of the region’s key areas of strength including sus36  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

tainable chemicals and polymers; specialty chemicals and petrochemicals.

decades of expertise, Flanders has a highly developed life sciences industry.

Digital society

Sustainable materials

Flanders has a reputation as an innovator in high-tech industries. The region excels in strategic digital domains and is home to several leading developers of a wide range of pioneering technologies.

Sustainability is booming in Flanders — especially due to the commitment and dedication of the region’s government in promoting industry projects in the field.

Food and nutrition

With hundreds of companies active in textiles, fashion and furniture, Flanders is home to one of Europe’s most thriving industries.

Food is Flanders’ third-largest industrial activity, and more than 80 per cent of Belgian turnover in food is generated in Flanders.

Life sciences and health Thanks to smart financing options, a cutting-edge innovation ecosystem and

Textiles

Read about the top Flemish recruitment experts from page 46.


Executives who make a difference TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTOS: DUX INTERNATIONAL

Executive search bureau Dux International started as a recruitment agency for the IT sector, before drastically changing course ten years ago to focus exclusively on executive search for non-profit organisations. Today, the company is the Netherlands’ foremost expert on executive and supervisory board positions in the non-profit sector. “We want to inspire people to use their expertise for the greater good.” Company founder Karin Doeksen started Dux International in London in 1990, where she saw great potential for recruitment in the budding IT sector. “London had plenty of expertise, while mainland 38  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

Europe had a lot of positions that it struggled to fill. We bridged that gap,” she explains. Later the company started a New York branch, before moving to Doeksen’s native Netherlands. “I was active in the charity sector myself, and started getting a lot of requests from people who needed executive search support for their organisations. We discovered to our surprise that there were no specific agencies focusing on the non-profit sector. We saw a lot of potential in that market, so we switched our focus completely. Today we work to make the right connections between executives and organisations that aim to fulfil a meaningful role in society.

Karin Doeksen.

This can range from directors for NGOs to board members for museums or foundations,” Doeksen attests.

Affinity is key Doeksen notices that increasing amounts of people want to contribute to non-profit


Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Recruitment Experts  |  When Only the Best Will Do

Human Rights Watch.

initiatives. This evolution can be seen among younger as well as older generations. “We often meet executives who have had a corporate career all their lives, who get to a point where they want to do something different, something meaningful. But often these people are not sure how they can contribute, which organisations are active in the field and how to get involved.” “We can find the right senior position for them, whether that’s a full-time career switch or a position on a supervisory board alongside their current job. We pride ourselves on the model we have developed for matching, where we really enter into dialogue with executives about their passions, affinities and motivations. In the end, people usually do charitable work because of a specific experience or interest. We dig deep to find what is right for each person and organisation,” explains Doeksen.

De zaaier, 1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

care, which includes foundations for specific illnesses; education, both in the west and in third-world countries; human rights; nature and environment; cultural organisations, including museums; and international development, which tackles Millennium Goal topics like hunger and poverty. The company also executes searches for the social entrepreneurship sector, which includes for-profit organisations with a substantial charitable focus. While the company is headquartered in the Netherlands, it has worked on a variety of international and multinational projects, and it always casts its net widely. “Our searches are often international, in order to find the perfect person for each position and organisation,” Doeksen explains. The company also advises non-profit organ-

This approach is key for a sector that is steadily growing and professionalising. “Non-profit organisations don’t only handle large sums of money, they are often involved in sensitive issues with a major impact. That’s why we see an increased interest in hiring executives who might not have worked for non-profit organisations before, but who bring along a very specific type of expertise from a previous career.”

Full-time, part-time or interim Dux International searches for full-time and part-time executive and board positions, as well as for voluntary positions that executives can take on alongside their career in a potentially completely different sector. A recent evolution is the addition of project-based work and interim management positions. “This summer, we joined forces with the OnlyHuman Group, who mostly offer interim work and short-term projects. They specialise in recruitment for communication and marketing professionals within the public sector. Our cooperation means that we can offer an even wider array of positions, and that our own team has diversified. It’s a win-win situation that we are very happy about,” attests Doeksen. Dux International’s aim is ultimately to inspire people to do some good in the world. “Everyone can contribute to civic society in their own way. Each and every one of us has valuable expertise that they can put to good use, and there are plenty of nonprofit organisations who need that expertise in order to reach their goals. With our highly professional and motivated team, we will do our utmost to bring these worlds together,” Doeksen concludes.

A good fit for everybody In order to find the perfect role for everyone, Dux International works with an extensive network of partners in various subsectors. They discern six categories: health and

isations on subjects like diversity in their boards of governors, and ensures that selection procedures are fair and objective.

Museum Beelden aan Zee is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2019 with a Niki de Saint Phalle exhibition.

Web: www.duxinternational.com

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  39


A new era in recruitment TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: MEY PERSONEELSDIENSTEN

Like many other great businesses, MEY Personeelsdiensten (personnel services) was founded out of frustration with the state of the sector. Determined to turn the recruitment industry into a people’s business once more, its two young founders built their business on thorough screening and human interaction. “Our primary goal is to skyrocket long and steady careers”. When Yff Zwartepoorte flunked in secondary school in 2017, he decided to take a sabbatical to work and explore his options. “I ended up doing temporary jobs for a work office with a questionable 40  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

reputation in our region,” Zwartepoorte recalls. “Companies were sent underqualified employees or even people who didn’t speak a single word of Dutch or English. Their only objective was to make as much profit as possible, regardless of the consequences for the employer or employees.” While working for this job office, Zwartepoorte met Stephan Broomhead, a fellow employee with similar frustrations about the business. “We thought: we can do better.”

Success stories With this mindset, the young duo founded MEY Personeelsdiensten, a recruit-

ment office unlike any other. “What sets us apart is our thorough screening of every company we work for and every candidate-employee whose resumé we receive. Whenever a company decides to work with us, we head to their offices and observe their way of working. This way, we know exactly what they are looking for. With the business profile that we assemble about them in hand, we hunt for the perfect match. Before we even consider placing a worker somewhere, we have a decent talk with the employee to get to know them and see their passion, experience and talent. Only if we are convinced that the company and


Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Recruitment Experts  |  When Only the Best Will Do

the worker could be a great match, we suggest them to the client.” And that formula works. A vast majority of the cases that MEY Personeelsdiensten’s take on, become success stories. “Recently, we got a visit from a seaman with 20 years of experience who wanted to start a new career so he could spend more time with his family. We found him a job as an electrician, the trade that he had learned in secondary school but never practiced. Enthusiastic as he was, he gave it his all from day one and showed himself eager to catch up with the sector’s evolutions of the last two decennia. After just two weeks, his boss told him that he wanted to give him a permanent contract. Our primary goal is to skyrocket our employees’ careers, not to enrich ourselves.”

Passionate matchmakers Despite this philanthropic philosophy, MEY Personeelsdiensten sometimes has some problems convincing clients and employees to work with them. The many unethical work offices in the near environment have tainted the sector’s name. “Companies and employees often tell us that they have worked with recruitment offices before and are not eager to repeat that experience. It takes time to assure them that we are no greed-driven office but one of passionate matchmakers.

Stephan Broomhead.

When they finally opt in, it usually turns out to be a long-lasting collaboration, which proves that we are indeed doing things differently.” That is also noticeable on the paycheques of the employees and the invoices to the clients. By lowering their commissions, MEY Personeelsdienten manages to pay out a significantly higher salary to its employees while keeping the rates low for its clients. “That seemed next to impossible in the beginning, but we eventually made it work. Where most work offices pay their cleaning ladies the legal minimum of not even ten euros, we usually pay around 12 euros per hour. This keeps our staff motivated, which allows us to provide better quality. Despite giving them extrinsic motivation through

Yff Zwartepoorte.

wages, we also want to motivate our employees by giving them a good working environment and relationship with their employer. What distinguishes us, is the personal touch, which means that the interests of the employee are paramount.”

Young ideas With the work they have put into MEY Personeelsdiensten, Zwartepoorte and Broomhead prove that you don’t need a degree to make your way in life. Both founders left secondary school without one but created their own chances anyway. Now 21 and 27 years old, the young duo has no regrets when looking back. “Of course, we think that education is paramount, and youngsters should do their best in school. Yet, it is also important for them to know that not all doors close on you without that piece of paper. If you are willing to work and know your talents, we can find you a great job to excel in.” After a bit more than a year, MEY Personeelsdiensten still has big growth ambitions. Today, they mainly focus on the infrastructure, construction, transportation and cleaning sector in the south of the Netherlands as well as the harbour industry in Vlissingen (near its head office in Goes). Yet, growth is waiting around the corner. “We are convinced that we have what it takes to push MEY Personeelsdiensten to a national or even international level. We will, however, never jeopardise our unique DNA of putting the people first.”

Photo: Pixabay

Web: www.meyuitzend.com

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  41


Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Recruitment Experts  |  When Only the Best Will Do

Ellen Dieperink.

Rob Neeter.

The added value of autistic talents TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: AUTITALENT

Where one per cent of the Dutch population has been diagnosed with autism, just 25 per cent of them manages to enter the job market. Nonetheless, many companies could use the specific talents that come with autism to their advantage. Among many other institutions, the Dutch Ministry of Defence and Careanimations encourage employees with autism to join the ranks, with the help of recruitment agency AutiTalent. “When hiring, you end up fishing in the same ponds most of the time,” explains Ellen Dieperink, project leader at the Dutch Ministry of Defence. “As a government institution, we think it is important to also give chances to those for whom applying and working is a bigger challenge. People with autism often have specific talents which we really need. For exam42  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

ple, they can focus for long periods of time and deliver precision and consistent quality. Those are rare talents to find.” The recruitment, they leave in the hands of AutiTalent. They suggest people for every job offer, and who initially start working at the ministry as posted employees. “If we feel that the match is right for both parties, we will offer them a permanent job after a while. After two years of working with AutiTalent, around 20 people have been implemented at the ministry of defence’s administration, communication, logistics, buying, facility and IT department already. And that had nothing but positive effects on their self-esteem, the quality of our work and the atmosphere at the office.” At Careanimations, a Dutch start-up that turns abstract package inserts and medical advice into comprehensive, multilingual animation videos, the collaboration

with AutiTalent runs very smoothly. “Once we finish a video about a certain topic, we have to translate it into versions for young and old, men and women,” explains the company’s director Rob Neeter. “That is a very repetitive, routinely job which requires a high level of accuracy and a great sense of responsibility. We notice that this profile matches people with autism like a glove. Upon our request, AutiTalent has recruited some talented employees for us who, by now, are invaluable to our company.” To create as many success stories as possible, AutiTalent offers guidance to both the companies and the employees throughout the process. This way, the ‘AutiTalents’ can kick off their careers in the best of circumstances. Web: www.autitalent.nl


Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Recruitment Experts  |  When Only the Best Will Do

The most personal work office in the Netherlands TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

Unlike many other work offices, Aymo Jobs always puts its people first. Through training, motivation and a human touch, they deliver great and enthusiastic employees. “Our workers are more than just numbers in our database,” explains founder Hulya Aydin. “First, we invite all of them to our office in Rotterdam to get to know them. This is vital for our further collaboration. Afterwards, we keep motivating them as much as we can. If we show that we believe in someone’s career, they will automatically deliver better work.” Specialised in the regular, unschooled job market, Aymo Jobs also offers its workers plenty of training. This way, they can climb their way up the job ladder. “Our people are mainly good with their hands. By polishing their talents, we prepare them to grow from production assistant to foreman, or beyond. In logistics and distribution, the sectors we mainly operate in, there are plenty of interesting

opportunities for those who are willing to work. We believe in everyone who is motivated, and we get the very best out of them.” Although Aymo Jobs only has one office in Rotterdam, they operate in all corners of the Netherlands. “Companies like to collaborate with us because we are very flexible. As we have such a personal connection with our clients and workers, businesses can reach us 24 hours per day to ask for more top-level workers. Therefore, the industry’s giants like DHL regularly choose us as their partner.”

Hulya Aydin. Photo: Aymo Job

Photo: Pixabay

Web: www.aymojobs.nl


Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Recruitment Experts  |  When Only the Best Will Do

Highly skilled and diverse medical professionals TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: PEXELS

Finding a job in the medical profession can be challenging, as can finding the right candidate for the position. Go Flexit helps find medical professionals the best job, and employers the perfect candidate they need. “It is about the strength of the person, rather than their age or background,” explains Aissuto Djaló, founder of Go Flexit. “We are a job placement service for highly trained medical personnel, such as neurology or cardiac care nurses, as well as medical

secretarial positions,” continues Djaló, who herself has a background in a medical coordination role. “Our role is to get to know the applicants before we present them to future employers. That is where we thrive. Yes, the right education is necessary, but it is also about the personal qualities of a candidate.” Through Skype calls, Go Flexit establishes a strong connection and they will keep track of the applicants once they are placed. “If they need anything, we are there for them.” This tenacity and their flexibility makes Go Flexit a

competitive placement service that is highly regarded in the medical field. A major aspect Go Flexit stands for is diversity, both in age and social background. “It can be tough to find employment when you’re over 50 or from a different background. Employers might see barriers. We do not. We believe that skills and experience should be the main decider. And that is what we push for,” concludes Djaló.  Web: www.goflexit.nl

Helping people to get more from their career TEXT: LAUREN WALKER  |  PHOTO: PEXELS

Anyone with the right mentality and enthusiasm deserves to get more out of their job, not just on a financial level, but on a personal and professional level, as well. This is the motto of top Dutch recruitment agency Job2Work, which acts as a mentor for people looking to grow and reach new goals within a new working environment. Job2Work prioritises sustainability within the industry by creating personal growth plans tailored to each employee prior to the

recruitment stage, highlighting the different stages leading to future stability of their career. The aim of this agency is not just to find its recruits a job, but to employ the right person for the right job, and to successfully understand what suits them and their skill sets best. It all starts out with ambition and drive, and from this point, Job2Work will find a perfect match with an employer. The agency also invests in its candidates by organising the necessary training, providing professional

guidance throughout the recruitment process and by financially supporting its members to attain the relevant certificates. Central to this model is good communication between all parties. Once in employment, the firm regularly checks in with successful candidates and the employers to ensure the personal and professional targets will be met. Most importantly, Job2Work continues to be a trustworthy point of contact when it comes to conflict and dilemmas both within and outside your professional life, helping you maintain an excellent working environment to focus on fulfilling your potential.  For more information or to take the first step to start your career and reach your professional and personal goals, visit: www.job2work.nl

44  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019


Discover Benelux  |  Top Dutch Recruitment Experts  |  When Only the Best Will Do

It is about the person behind the resumé TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: NB PERSONEELSDIENSTEN

With more and more jobs becoming available in construction, production and logistics, companies are having a hard time finding reliable, skilled workers. NB Personeelsdiensten aims to find the right person for the right job. “It is about so much more than just the work experience,” begins Nick Bruls, owner of NB Personeelsdiensten. From its two offices in Eindhoven and Elsloo, NB Personeelsdiensten places candidates from the region, as well as foreign workers. “We started two years ago. In my previous job,

we found it was hard to find the right people, so I wanted to create a solution. It began for our own projects, but things quickly grew,” explains Bruls. For the construction industry, NB Personeelsdiensten also provides many Polish and Hungarian candidates, who are often highly skilled and have an immense drive. “Of course, language can be an issue. That is why we make sure that their level of English or German is proficient enough to work on a site, not least because of safety.” Bruls and his team all have a background in the industries for which they match candi-

dates with potential employers. “I used to work in concrete construction, so I know what matters in the sector. In today’s booming market it is more about reliability, rather than your resumé. That’s why we have a strict selection procedure for prospective candidates,” Bruls continues. “We want to know them and be sure that we would hire them ourselves before we present them to our clients.” Web: www.nbpersoneel.nl

Nick Bruls.

Providing workforce solutions on the world seas TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTO: TOS PEOPLE & SHIP DELIVERY

As a proud family business, working from the heart of the Port of Rotterdam, TOS People & Ship Delivery sends over 800 people in the maritime industry around the world every day; for the tug industry, in the offshore wind industry, in port logistics and for ship deliveries. “Be it one person for a day or a whole team for as long as needed, our professionals are ready for the job,” says Ivan Wagenaar, commercial director of TOS. What started from a single-paper business plan in 1992, has now grown into a service provider for the maritime, offshore and wind energy sector, with offices in Ukraine, Poland, Cyprus, Czech Republic and Indonesia. “Our company has evolved by solving problems for our clients. As the market changes, we stand strong by our values: quality, loyalty and flexibility. We introduce candidates for all kinds

of positions onboard a ship, from the master to on-deck technicians.” For two years, the company has also worked with trading schools, to provide internships with its clients. “We want to build towards the future — creating long-lasting relationships with both our candidates and our clients. It is the only way to keep the industry sustainable,” adds Wagenaar.

“We make it our business to know our candidates and clients, to create the perfect match between them. Because we believe people make the difference. That is why we invest in them: in relationships, in development and in safety,” he concludes. Web: www.tos.nl 

Ivan Wagenaar.

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  45


Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Recruitment Experts  |  When Only the Best Will Do

Matchmaking in the freelancer era TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: JELLOW

The 21st-century is one of flexible working. It might, therefore, not surprise that the freelance market is booming. In the last three years alone, the freelance pool of Flanders and Brussels has expanded by 22.7 per cent, or three times more than the regular job market. But how do you freelance your way to the top? Jellow, the Benelux region’s biggest digital matchmaker for freelancers and employers, can give you a head start!

finding each other. “There are thousands of talented freelancers out there and thousands of businesses, eager to work with them. But the trick is to find the right match,” explains Mark Willems, CEO of Jellow Belgium. “That is where Jellow steps in. Our freelance network matchmaking software connects 27,000 freelancers and 1,700 companies. Businesses are just one click away from the best-suited freelancers from Belgium’s and the Netherlands’ biggest database.”

According to estimations, Flanders and Brussels will count more freelancers than fixed employees by 2030. And that makes sense, given the many advantages freelancing has. The limitless flexibility to work when, how and on which projects you want is very attractive to many. And, as every project is your business card for attracting new clients, the quality of the work provided is tower-high.

Instead of paying for margins on freelancer rates, companies take a fixed low-cost monthly or annual Jellow subscription, after which they get unlimited access to the Jellow software and network. Depending on the profile they are looking for, they get to see a list of the most perfect matches. “Yet, what sets us apart from other platforms is that we allow no intermediary parties and are no marketspace. On Jellow, only the companies can reach out to the freelancers and not the other way around. This way,

The difficulty many freelancers and companies struggle with, however, is 46  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

they won’t be flooded with messages from eager freelancers who are not a match for the job.” For freelancers, on the other hand, the service is entirely free. Upon request, Jellow also performs a myriad of additional services for low fixed fees. Its matchmaker team can take the entire procedure upon themselves and present you the perfect matches on a platter, once they have been selected. If you want to test a specific quality of your freelancer, Jellow can arrange that too. “This is done by external partners of choice. As Jellow, we deliberately don’t want to stand in between the clients and the freelancers. We just offer them an easy-to-use platform to get to know each other, but then we let the magic unfold by itself. In essence, we are a dating site for freelancers and employers. And we’ve ignited numerous successful love stories already.” Web: www.jellow.be


Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Recruitment Experts  |  When Only the Best Will Do

Global player, local talent TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTO: AIMS

Founded in 1992, AIMS International is a global talent acquisition and development organisation. Headquartered in Austria, with partners in over 50 countries, the company recently brought their services into Belgium. Their industry-leading services fall into two main categories: executive search and team development. The mission behind AIMS International is to find the best talents and support leadership development for its clients. With an inhouse methodology for candidate selection, assessment and on-boarding as well as leadership and team training, the organisation combines a worldwide presence with local approaches, flexibly adapting to the needs of individual markets. The foremost strength of AIMS International lies behind its wide-ranging infrastructure. Organised around three main axes (Americas; Asia Pacific; and Europe, Middle East and

Africa), AIMS is active in over 50 countries. A global player in the true sense of the word, the organisation gathers a wide and easily tapped-into network of skills and knowledge in key markets, with areas of expertise such as the industrial, automotive, financial, life sciences, consumer, media and energy

Olivier Legrand, Managing Partner of AIMS International Belgium

sectors. Spearheaded by a polyvalent team of consultants from diverse industries and at the top of their respective field, AIMS International combines expertise and versatility to deliver an individualised, customer-specific service. But although AIMS International is a global structure, it is also anchored by a strong regional presence in the countries where it operates. While the organisation maintains the same methodology from country to country, guaranteeing a consistency of results to its clients, AIMS also adopts the best practices specific to the local market in question. Established in Belgium since the beginning of the year, AIMS International is now extending its business development solutions to companies across the country. Web: aimsinternational.com Contact: belgiumoffice@aimsinternational.com


Discover Benelux  |  Top Flemish Recruitment Experts  |  When Only the Best Will Do

Klaas and Liselotte.

International talent in Flanders TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: AXINTOR INTERIM

In a small region like Flanders, it can be hard to find the right person for every position. That’s why Axintor Interim looks for extraordinary talents abroad. With plenty of expertise in recruiting Polish, Romanian, Lithuanian, Spanish and Portuguese employees, they surpass borders to find you the perfectly-suited staff. “In many sectors, they constantly struggle to find employees,” says Liselotte Rombaut, founder and owner of Axintor Interim. “Electricians, welders, but also transporters and seasonal agricultural workers. To fill these positions with talented, motivated personnel, we decided to recruit in Poland.” Throughout the years, Axintor Interim’s territory expanded to Romania, Lithuania, Spain and Portugal, as well. “We operate in countries with a culture of migrating to work. The Polish are very willing to leave friends, family and children behind for a few months or even a few years in order to work abroad.” 48  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

To make this transition as easy as possible, Axintor Interim strongly focuses on the guidance of its foreign employees. A coordinator explains to them everything they need to know about the Flemish working culture and provides them with a bicycle, a motorcycle or a car and, if necessary, even arranges them a place to live. “The staff of our offices in Veurne, Ieper and Roeselare helps them to set up a Belgian bank account, health insurance and helps them with all their doubts and problems.” Hiring international employees also offers advantages galore to the employer. “First and foremost: people who come all the way here to work are very motivated. Even for jobs that are less attractive to Belgian workers (like positions with lower salaries and shift work), our employees are excited to give it their all. There is little to no absenteeism, either, as they prefer to work as much as they can during their short stay here. With things

like paid overtime and an insurance for working accidents, the conditions here are also sometimes way better than they often are over there.” Axintor Interim also makes sure that all employees have a basic knowledge of English to ensure smooth communication. In 2019, Axintor Interim blows out ten candles. After one decade, they have a steady flow of 350 active interim forces at all times. And although its philosophy remains untouched, small things have changed over the years. “We are focusing more on e-recruitment nowadays, and keep up to date with the sector’s trends. We also provide more payroll services. This way, companies can hire their international employees through our office, giving them all the flexibility they want.

Web: www.axintor.be


Benelux Business BUSINESS COLUMN | BUSINESS CALENDAR | BUSINESS PROFILES

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54

Leadership outside Hollywood TEXT & PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS

Google ‘Leadership in movies’ and you get any number of lists from management gurus, but nearly all their titles are American.

Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan and the Star Wars series – the latter presumably for those aspiring to a Jedi knight-style of leadership – are all great films. Some suggestions, like Kung Fu Panda 3, from fastcompany.com, are intriguing. But I want to wave the flag for classic cinema, so here are three recommendations which I haven’t found on the internet: one Japanese, one British and one Italian. The Seven Samurai (1954), directed by Akira Kurosawa, is one of the greatest films and also a masterclass in leadership. Set in 1586, it tells the story of how the farmers of a poor village in Japan persuade seven masterless samurai to help defend them against bandits. We see how their leader builds a balanced team. He defines a vision which they all commit to. And the samurai develop people – by teaching the peasants how to fight. It’s a complex and inspiring work. 50  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

My next choice is quirkier. Hobson’s Choice, also from 1954, is an early comedy from David Lean, a film adaptation of a stage play set in Salford in the 1880s. Henry Hobson has a shoe shop in which his three grown daughters work without pay. He tells Maggie, the eldest, that she’s too old at 30 to marry. But Maggie escapes from the trap by marrying Willie Mossop, the meek but talented worker who actually makes the shoes: together they set up a rival business.

olutionary leader with such radical ideas that the authorities must destroy him. As the world teeters on the brink of environmental catastrophe, this film can help us all focus on the real leadership we need to pull us back. Three black-and-white films, all from cinematic geniuses. If you don’t know them, try them.

It’s a brilliantly acted and funny film. It is also a story about a rebellion by the disempowered against toxic management; about identifying and developing talent; and about building success on technical skill combined with business acumen. My final choice is The Gospel According to St Matthew (1964) from Pier Paolo Pasolini. You know the story. Pasolini was a gay Marxist atheist whose film about Jesus was praised by the Vatican. The amateur actor who plays Christ exudes commitment, intensity, courage, anger and charisma. Pasolini shows us a rev-

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


Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Calendar

Business Calendar TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER

CrossBorder Event.

European Banking Summit.

European Banking Summit 2 - 3 October Brussels Taking place annually in Brussels, the European Banking Summit is the flagship event of the European Banking Federation. The event unites more than 300 experts, senior policy makers and key industry stakeholders to discuss the industry’s challenges and opportunities, as well as identifying new trends. Do not miss this rare opportunity to network with reputed sector analysts and important industry stakeholders. www.europeanbankingsummit.com

CrossBorder Event 3 October Utrecht What will be the next steps your ecommerce company takes? This inspiring event will feature successful online retailers, top brands and B2B sellers. There will also be many opportunities for networking, not to mention the presentation of the CrossBorder Top 30, showcasing the Dutch e-commerce companies achieving the greatest revenue growth abroad. crossborderevent.nl

Inner Peace Conference 5 - 6 October Amsterdam The Inner Peace Conference is designed to expose people to the great wisdom traditions of the world. The conference offers a varied programme of workshops, lectures, teachings and concerts by world-renowned teachers. innerpeaceconference.org

Ascend Benelux 9 October Utrecht Taking place at De Fabrique in Utrecht, Episerver Ascend brings together a com-

European Banking Summit.

munity of digital marketers, developers and e-commerce leaders to share their strategies for driving growth through digital transformation. www.episerver.com

Hack.lu 22 - 24 October Luxembourg Back for its 15th edition, Hack.lu is an unmissable conference where people come together to discuss key issues relating to computer security. Topics range from privacy to the cultural implications of technology on society. 2019.hack.lu

CrossBorder Event.

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  51


Rolf Sorg.

An international hub for innovation TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: PM-INTERNATIONAL

Headquartered in Luxembourg, PMInternational is one of the world’s most pioneering companies in the fields of health, wellness and beauty. The Schengen-based firm develops and markets premium nutritional supplements and cosmetics through its own brand, FitLine®, as well as playing an active part in Luxembourg’s role as a hub for science and research. Founded in 1993, PM-International is renowned for its high-quality FitLine® series of nutritional supplements and the FitLine® skin series, with many products boasting a patented technology. Now active in more than 40 countries on all continents, the company’s international headquarters have been based in the Grand Duchy since 2015. 52  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

At the heart of Europe “Together with the European headquarters in Germany, the Asian headquarters in Singapore, and the American headquarters in the US, the international headquarters form an international hub that secures a seamless supply around the globe,” begins PM-International founder and CEO Rolf Sorg, who was born in Germany, but has lived in Luxembourg since 1998. “Luxembourg is located in the heart of Europe, internationally orientated, and offers state-of-the art facilities and infrastructure.”

mitment to the country is demonstrated by exciting plans for Schengen in 2020. “We are investing several million euros into this exciting expansion project, which will offer working space for 88 more people, as well as 24 homes for employees.”

Luxembourg life There are currently around 80 employees comprising 18 nationalities working at PM-International’s Luxembourg headquarters, and the company’s firm com-

FitLine nutritional supplements.


Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  PM-International

It is not just in the field of technology that PM-International plays a key role in Luxembourg life. The company is also involved in the promotion of professional sports through a cooperation with the Luxembourg Federation for Basketball (FLBB), as well as supporting the Luxembourg Federation for Rowing (FLSA).

Government research Luxembourg is becoming an increasingly important centre for science and research in Europe, and PM-International’s role in this is impressive. “We are very proud to be a part of it. That’s why we have a close collaboration with the national innovation agency Luxinnovation, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), and the government,” points out Sorg.

ActiVitis PM-International engages in basic and applied research collaborations with scientists and institutions throughout Europe, two of which are funded by the government of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, namely GlucoTOP and ActiVitis. The latter is realised in collaboration with the Environmental Research

and Innovation (ERIN) department of LIST, and is part of a five-year collaboration that aims to develop new bioactive dietary supplements from Luxembourg winery by-products. “The main objective of the project is to extract secondary plant compounds from grape pomace and to upcycle them for industrial purposes in a sustainable way and in the context of the national circular economy strategy,” explains Sorg. “This involves a cutting-edge, environmentallyfriendly green extraction and drying process that saves water and energy.”

Worldwide success More than 520 million of PM-International’s products have been sold to date and July 2019 marked a more than 25 per cent increase in global sales, compared to the previous year’s results. “Strategically and economically, PM-International has set the course to break the one billion USD turnover mark in 2019,” reveals Sorg.

Sustainable future PM-International is committed to making the world a better place beyond its dayto-day business. For more than 15 years, the company has had a cooperation with

Scientists from PM-International and LIST with, far right, PM-International Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Tobias Kühne

the international charity World Vision and is currently sponsoring 1,800 children all around the world. “We share the value of building a sustainable future and dedicate ourselves to helping children, their families, and whole communities around the world, with the overall goal of self-sufficiency,” points out Sorg. In 2018, PM-International was named World Vision’s largest corporate sponsor. Once the company reaches one billion USD turnover, it plans to sponsor 500 additional children in an ADP (Area Development Program) in Peru.

Global expansion The future looks bright for PMInternational, which is working to expand its business to Canada, China, Vietnam, Brazil, Indonesia, and Ukraine. Sorg is convinced that there is plenty of room for further growth. “As of now, PMInternational has a global market potential of 15.2 million core customers and 36 billion euros, and both the world population and purchasing power will continue to grow over the coming years,” concludes the CEO. Web: www.pm-international.com

At PM-International’s laboratories in the LIST.

Rolf Sorg.

Charity Ambassador Vicki Sorg visiting sponsored children in India.

PM-International’s R&D team at work.

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  53


Wealth management in a fast-changing world TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: FUCHS & ASSOCIÉS

Adapting to the financial requirements of their clients, the unique family and corporate office Fuchs & Associés values human connection above all else. Situated in Luxembourg, one of the world’s top-tier financial hubs, a diverse team of experts ensure the development of your assets in a rapidly changing society.

A multicultural team of specialists Fuchs has finely tuned its expertise across an array of domains, and its strength lies in its dynamic, human workforce. “We have over 150 experts work54  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

ing for us in Luxembourg, Brussels and Geneva; all of which are recruited from the largest financial institutions,” says Jean Fuchs, founding partner and CEO. Owned wholly by its partners, Fuchs & Associés is an independent, family business. Its core values have therefore helped them to develop a very human modus operandi. Fuchs explains how “we work more efficiently than any large investment bank here in Luxembourg - or the likes of Frankfurt and London, for that matter. We owe this to our internationally diverse team and their valuable skill sets.”

Luxembourg’s cultural diversity is a unique force, and Fuchs is primely located at the heart of Europe. Working with over 20 countries on a daily basis, the group can respond to ripples made by surrounding economies – and advise clients accordingly.

Personalised wealth management solutions Whether or not you’re domiciled in Europe, Fuchs Finance offers “creative solutions to managing your finances”, and is regulated by the CSSF, Luxembourg’s Financial Supervisory Authority.


Discover Benelux  |  Business  |  Fuchs & Associés

The philosophy is simple: solutions are always sustainable, efficient and customised for the client’s profile. Fuchs says: “Our relationships are based on impartiality and trust. Above all, we favour real exchanges between clients and their handpicked supervisor.”

First-rate advice for managing your fund Fuchs Asset Management can help clients choose the appropriate financial vehicle to grow their estate, whilst guiding them through the intricacies of EU regulation. “Luxembourg is a country with a close-knit community. It’s perfect for creative investment and relocating offshore vehicles – no matter the size of your business,” explains Fuchs. Whether you’re a smaller business or a qualified international investor, the office offers valuable advice on UCITS and AIF vehicles, and can help sell investment funds across borders, as well as in your business’ home market, thanks to its EU passport. “We’ll be by your side to assist in day-today management issues, while advising on risk and compliance issues to which we react quickly and dynamically.”

Future-proofing your family estate The Fuchs Family Office has emerged from its expertise as a family business. “Your family estate is more than a materi-

al asset – it represents your own values,” says Fuchs. Wealth planning in its Family Office is a dynamic process, and daily decisions are thoughtfully considered: from new family members, to tax and legal changes. “Our success can be attributed to our ability to listen and assess. We respect both your personal and professional expectations at all times.” Thanks to its network of partners, the Family Office provides a high-end concierge service to take care of you and your family estate. “Long-term support is key when it comes to inheritance planning, so we offer lifelong benefits.”

Life insurance with endless benefits Under the branch of Fuchs & Insurances,

its expertise in legal and tax regulation makes it a veritable brokerage service. So why take out life insurance of Luxembourg, of all places? A policy here is the only regulatory framework in Europe to be based on the Triangle of Security, that guarantees the security of your assets in case of a bankruptcy. “It ensures that you as a policyholder, maintain control over your assets at all times,” says Fuchs. Clients benefit from careful wealth planning, and crossborder portability at the heart of the EU.

Access to the world’s largest stock exchanges For portfolio managers and various other financial operators, Fuchs Trading provides real-time participation in the 18 biggest global stock markets. “Our team of traders possesses more than 60 years of combined experience.” Clients will benefit from a network of international contacts, who understand what it takes to perform well in the financial marketplace.

Support for economic development As it approaches its 20th anniversary, Fuchs reflects on what makes it stand out: “Entrepreneurship is in our DNA. The world is changing fast: you have to know how to adapt, develop activities that complement one another and meet clients’ needs. We are advisors that consistently offer the best solution to our private and institutional clients.” Web: www.fuchsgroup.com

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  55


HOTEL OF THE MONTH IN LUXEMBOURG CITY

Feel at home in Luxembourg TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER  |  PHOTOS: NOVOTEL SUITES LUXEMBOURG

Located in the heart of Luxembourg City’s European quarter, the fourstar Novotel Suites Luxembourg is a suite-only hotel where guests are always made to feel right at home. New for 2019 are five stunning deluxe suites with an arty, personalised touch. Novotel Suites offers travellers spacious, comfortable and modern suites which are ideally equipped for either short or long stays. They have all been recently renovated and include a living room space, bathroom with large bath and shower, and kitchenette.  

Personalised deluxe suites

The recently renovated hotel also offers five deluxe suites, which were completed 56  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

earlier this year and each with their own style and colour for a truly personalised experience. Will you go for pink, blue, aqua, yellow or Sienna? “Each of these five suites have their own identity and have been conceived to ensure guests feel at home,” explains general manager Sonia Zaied. Extra touches include a comfortable sofa in the relaxation area, a coffee machine, and free minibar. The deluxe suites also boast a large shower with an aromatherapy diffuser and a workspace for business travellers.   Guests benefit from the latest technology to ensure they stay connected, such as a large television, bluetooth speakers and a desk with built-in phone charger.


Discover Benelux  |  Hotel of the Month  |  Luxembourg City

Art aficionados Inside each of the five deluxe suites you will find works of art from a range of talented artists such as Frédérique Bouet, Michaël Cailloux, Jean-Michel Letellier, Miki Nakamura and Valérie Belmokhtar, including photography, wall-mounted sculptures and engravings. Gallery owner Nathalie Béreau decorated the deluxe suites to complement the artists’ work and create a stylish, individual aesthetic.  

Superb location

Due to the hotel’s location in the business quarter of Kirchberg, close to the European institutions, Novotel Suites is a popular choice with business travellers during the week. However, during weekends and bank holidays, leisure travellers can make the most of the hotel’s close proximity to the airport and city centre. Guests can enjoy a pleasant 20-minute stroll into the centre, or hop on a bus or tram and be there in a matter of minutes. “The tram stop is conveniently located at the foot of the hotel,” points out the general manager. The cultural delights of Luxembourg City await, with highlights including the modern art gallery MUDAM, the prestigious Philharmonie Luxembourg concert hall

and the charming Grund quarters by the Alzette river.

Gourmet delights

Guests at Novotel Suites can start the day with a delicious cold and hot buffet and continental breakfast. Ingredients vary according to the seasons, with an emphasis on high-quality, local produce. There is also the ‘Boutique Gourmande’ for when you desire a tasty treat and a cosy hotel bar for enjoying a cocktail. After a busy day, why not relax on the hotel’s beautiful outdoor terrace with a Mojito made using the hotel’s freshly grown mint?   If you are peckish, choose from a range of salads and homemade paninis, not to mention delicious pizza and pasta dishes. And if you want to chill in the comfort of your own suite, room-service awaits.   In the mood for a workout instead? Facilities at Novotel Suites include a wellequipped fitness room which is open 24 hours per day.  

Unique services

Staff at Novotel Suites are always prepared to go the extra mile, and this is

reflected by unique services such as Smart car loan. Available upon request for guests staying four nights or more, it allows them to roam around the city on four wheels at no extra cost. Another great benefit is the free ‘ammaassis’ massage service, which is provided every Tuesday evening in the lobby.   

Putting the client first

A warm welcome is guaranteed at Novotel Suites, with the team doing their utmost to ensure guests feel at home. “We always go beyond classic hotel customer service,” smiles the general manager. “The client is at the heart of everything we do. From the moment guests check in, we provide a personalised service.” Novotel Suites Luxembourg 13 Avenue J F Kennedy Quartier Europeen 1855 LUXEMBOURG  Web: www.novotelsuites.com

Nathalie Béreau decorated the stunning deluxe suites at Novotel Suites Luxembourg. Web: www.nathaliebereau.com

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  57


Discover Benelux  |  Hotel of the Month  |  Strassen

HOTEL OF THE MONTH IN STRASSEN

Redefining hospitality TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTOS: BIVIUS EAT & SLEEP

After growing up in a family-owned hotel and studying hospitality management, Luca and Andrea Pierucci took the challenge of opening and running Bivius eat & sleep, only a few miles outside of Luxembourg city: a cosy, modern hotel to accommodate fast-paced travellers in a relaxing atmosphere. Recently refurbished and with only 20 bedrooms, Bivius is organised around its guests’ quality of experience, and it was recently ranked three-star by the Ministry of Economy and Tourism. The Pierucci brothers pride themselves on their hospitality: they and their knowledgeable staff are always ready to advise, give food recommendations or reveal Luxembourg’s hidden secrets. The hotel also accommodates an international audience with a wide range of languages spoken: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Bivius eat & sleep is a particularly good option for local or international travellers requiring fast, convenient access. Located in 58  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

Strassen, on the outskirts of Luxembourg city, it is situated next to the A6, a main roadway well supplied by public transportation that reaches the city centre in minutes and the airport in 20 minutes.

the cuisine, its popularity increased to the point of receiving demand from outside, and the hotel now provides take-away dishes and an open breakfast buffet for outside guests, upon reservation.

But Bivius is more than just a relaxing, convenient hotel. The Pierucci brothers are careful to provide extensive restaurant service to cater for every taste: their Italian head chef, a veteran of a starred restaurant in Rome, has also plied his trade in Vienna, Nice and London. The importance of the culinary aspect is clear from one glance at the menu: from elaborate dishes of freshly caught fish and meats, to a creative range of antipasti, salads and sides, as well as over 20 pasta dishes, many of which are completely homemade.

Bivius also offers a diverse variety of beverage options to match the food menu. The Pieruccis, who know a thing or two about wine, boast an impressive wine list that includes the classic Italian range along with indigenous grapes and wines exclusive to the their home region of Marche in Italy. Beyond wine, they also stock a selection of craft beers on tap or bottled, with some classics as well as a rotation of seasonal, small-scale brews.

The menu follows the seasons and adapts to the local offerings so as to serve only fresh products, and features a changing list of seasonal specials. A large pizza selection also welcomes travellers in the mood for a quick bite — or those who just love pizza. In fact, due to the quality of

Web: www.bivius.lu


Discover Benelux  |  Restaurant of the Month  |  Amsterdam

R E S TA U R A N T O F T H E M O N T H I N A M S T E R D A M

Amsterdam’s very own trattoria Italiana TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: IL VECCHIO PACIOCCONE RESTAURANT

Serving the freshest Italian cuisine in the heart of Amsterdam, Il Vecchio Pacioccone Restaurant is the definition of Italian culinary excellence in the Dutch capital. Working with a select few small producers from the Tuscan and Umbrian regions, you can expect the finest red steak and Chianti wine close to the Red Light District. Along Amsterdam’s perpendicular canals, one might not expect to find such an authentic spot for fine Italian dining. Once past the typically Dutch wooden doors and painted brick, visitors will feel like they’ve walked into a TuscanUmbrian trattoria. “Thanks to our original imported Italian wood oven, dishes are prepared just as they would have been a century ago,” explains the restaurant’s co-owner, Giorgia Ozzano. Founders Paolo and David D’Amico and Marco Casoli have developed close relationships with producers in Italy to ensure

that they can select the best ingredients. “We’re inspired by our family recipes, which are genuine, traditional and emotional. Our goal is to recreate the taste of dishes cooked by our mothers and grandmothers during a family lunch on a Sunday.” says Ozzano. The seasonal menu here changes daily, depending on how much creamy burrata can be sourced that week. “Everything is cooked fresh and to order,” reveals Ozzano, and for a taster, starters include Italian cold cuts, such as Parma ham and capocollo, alongside oven-baked Pecorino cheese served with honey. Fresh pasta mains might include Amatriciana, gnocchi alla Bolognese or butter and sage ravioli. Meat dishes vary from wild pork ribs to duck breast, along with some seriously delectable pizzas. “Our speciality is Fiorentina, a T-bone steak made with Chianina, which is a variation of Tuscan

beef. Super soft and juicy, we cook it in the wood oven – you won’t find it anywhere else in Amsterdam.” Ozzano tells us. Giorgia, who is studying to become a sommelier, scouts out Umbrian and Tuscan wines from small, family producers. The wine list isn’t extensive, as “the reds have been carefully selected to match the meats cooked in the wood oven”. Particular attention is paid to winemaking areas such as Chianti, Montepulciano and Montefalco, selecting bottles that have been given the DOCG seal of approval. The team keeps the Italian tradition alive and well in Amsterdam: not only at Il  Vecchio Pacioccone on Sint Jacobsstraat, but also at their pizzeria, La Zoccola and Il Pacioccone on Koggestraat – famous for its mouth-watering fish dishes. Web: www.theredwinedistrict.com

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  59


Discover Benelux  |  Hotel & Spa of the Month  |  Ochten

A magical way to spend the festive season TEXT: LAUREN WALKER  |  PHOTOS: FRUITPARK HOTEL & SPA

At the heart of the Dutch Betuwe region lies a rural utopia which, during springtime, is known for its blossoming fruit trees, and in April of this year, became the home of Fruitpark Hotel & Spa. However, as the colder days draw in, and the fruit trees leading to the entrance of this four-star luxury hotel lose their produce, they will be brought back to life with fairy lights adorning their branches and guiding you inside, to take shelter from the cold. Situated in the middle of the National Fruit Park Ochten, the surroundings of this environmentally friendly resort transform into a winter wonderland. Gifts and decorations will embellish the hotel, where luxury and cosiness go hand in hand. For its first Christmas, the family-owned haven is organising two days of festive magic, so guests can make the destination a homeaway-from-home during the holiday season. This year, give yourself a rest from hectic

family festivities and escape to this peaceful sanctuary, where you can indulge in lush fourcourse dinners and luxurious brunches, which will make you feel excited about leaving the warmth of your bed in the morning. After a long day of celebrating with family or a chilly walk to explore all the marvellous grounds have to offer, you can cleanse your

body and wind down in the hotel’s wellness centre. Take a dip in the wonderful pool, warm yourself up in the sauna or steam room, or even treat yourself to a relaxing massage or purifying facial. Web: www.fruitparkhotel.nl


Discover Benelux  |  Brewery of the Month  |  Belgium

Craft and community TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTOS: BELGO SAPIENS

Operating from the historic city of Nivelles, the young Belgo Sapiens brewery is quickly making a name for itself in the Belgian craft beer scene. With ample expertise combined with a relaxed attitude to allegiances of style or flavour, owner and head brewer Damien Demunter produces a varied range of beers, each with its own distinctive character. After two decades in the brewing industry, topped by three years working with North American microbreweries, Damien Demunter finally had to scratch the itch: back in his native Belgium, he and a few friends co-founded Belgo Sapiens Brewers. Originating in friendship, the brewery also developed a social ethos: “Beer is a popular drink,” Damien says, meaning that it is for the people, “in the beautiful sense of the word”. The idea behind their alternative 50 centilitre size isn’t to drink more, but rather “to share it with a friend”. And although their 33 centilitre comes in a standard glass bottle, Belgo Sapiens does not shy away from pack-

aging their 50 centilitre product in a metal can. Damien witnessed the “canned beer boom” in the US and Canada, and wanted to help introduce it into European brewing culture. Besides being lighter, more resistant and eco-friendly in terms of transport and recycling, aluminium also protects liquid from potentially detrimental light conditions. Their range includes a Belgian white, unusually brewed with American hops for added natural fragrance; a London porter rich with coffee and dark fruit; a Germanstyle lager; and an American amber combining the zest of US hops with the mouthfeel of Belgian malt. As Damien puts it, the idea is to “take inspiration, here and there, from the things we love in beer”. Tradition, however, remains important to his approach. The crown jewel of the range may be the Cheval Godet, named after an important part of the Nivelles folklore since the 17th century. From this historical character, Belgo Sapiens has brewed a remarkable duo in the Trappist style, which represents

their most “Belgian” beers so far: a fruitforward ‘dubbel’ and a heady, spicy ‘tripel’. But Belgo Sapiens brews more than their own flavourful beers. They also have ample experience as subcontractors in the field of brewing, barrel filling, and product packaging. With a flexible, accommodating approach, Belgo Sapiens are always interested to hear from potential collaborators in the industry.

Web: belgosapiens.be

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  61


Discover Benelux  |  Medical Center of the Month  |  Belgium

Medical care for everyone TEXT: COLETTE DAVIDSON  |  PHOTOS: PEXELS

For those looking for quick and easy access to screenings, blood tests, check-ups and more, Brussels’ Louise Medical Center is the best answer. But the private clinic goes beyond simple exams – it boasts a selection of highlytrained medical professionals in numerous domains, especially in women’s health. When the Louise Medical Center Brussels opened in Brussels, the intention was that it would be a space where patients could find professionals from across the medical spectrum, in a welcoming, friendly environment. Now, it boasts more than 100 specialists and over a dozen mini-clinics for gynaecology, dermatology, cardiology, cosmetic surgery, oncology and much more. The private clinic puts much of its efforts into prevention, and has shown itself 62  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

to be a pioneer in its offering of health screenings and early detection testing. At its check-up clinic, patients can go through a series of tests with multiple health professionals in order to receive an overall health assessment. That preventative component is especially important in Louise Medical Center’s women’s health clinic, which offers medical expertise in breast health and menopause as well as mammograms and ultrasounds. It has also spearheaded treatment options in female genital cosmetic surgery, and its Clinique Esthétique Intime offers multiple procedures in this domain. Health and wellness are also part of the clinic’s treatment offerings, and patients looking for expertise on nutrition, massage therapy and psychology can receive a personalised treatment plan from one of its many trained professionals.

But perhaps most importantly, the Louise Medical Center is a place where patients can be seen quickly and easily – a difficult task in a metropolis like Brussels. That’s why the clinic is open from Monday to Friday from 7am to 9pm, and Saturday from 8:30am to 6pm. The clinic also offers emergency services in gynaecology and paediatrics. “We’re open to everyone, whether people are looking to get a blood test, a simple check-up or an appointment for women’s health,” says Dr. Cyril Afeiche, the founder and director of Louise Medical Center. “We take a humanistic approach to medicine and we want to remain accessible to all.”

Web: www.louise-medicalcenter.be


Night of Museums. Photo: Schengen asbl-LFT

Out & About With the autumn wind now blowing through the streets, there’s nothing better than spending your waking hours inside. Luckily, there is plenty of cultural fun up for grabs within the confinements of the Benelux region’s museums, event halls and cinemas. Yet, if you really feel like conquering the chilly streets this month, make sure to do so with a glass of Belgian ‘jenever’ in hand, to keep you nice and warm. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

Amsterdam Dance Event. Photo: Lieke van den Oord

64  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar

The Temptation of St-Anthony - Salvador Dali (1946). Photo: Funcadio Gala-Salvador Dali

Film Fest Gent 8 – 18 October, Gent, Belgium For the 46th time, the historic city of Gent is the location for the annual gathering of the Belgian and international cinema crowd. This year, Les Misérables, the debut film of French director Ladj Ly, opens the prestigious festival, after which over 100 pictures follow its lead. Traditionally, Film Fest Gent also hosts the annual World Soundtrack Awards, the globe’s most prestigious prizes for film music and scores. www.filmfestival.be

synergy between both geniuses with over 80 paintings, sculptures and films on display. fine-arts-museum.be

activities and performances which liven up the halls until the early hours. museumsmile.lu

Night of Museums

Halloween at Walibi

12 October, Luxembourg, Luxembourg During Luxembourg’s Night of Museums, the cultural temples on the city’s famous ‘museums’ mile’ leave their doors unlocked until 1 or even 2am. Alongside the paintings and sculptures, you can stumble upon plenty of exciting

12 October – 3 November, Wavre, Belgium Around Halloween, Walibi gets rid of the ‘fun’ in ‘fun park’ and replaces it with ‘terror’. The usually so-cheerful paradise gets taken over by zombies, vampires and crazy scientists, spread over nine haunted houses and six scare zones. At weekends, you can even experience this horror madness after dusk. But be warned: it is not for the weak-hearted. halloween.walibi.be

Dalí & Magritte 11 October – 9 February, Brussels, Belgium From their respective homes in Catalonia and Brussels, Salvador Dali and René Magritte took the world by storm as friends and fellow founding fathers of the surrealist movement. Now, the latter’s home town pays tribute to the unique

Amsterdam Dance Event Halloween Walibi. Photo: Walibi

16 – 20 October, Amsterdam, the Netherlands The Amsterdam Dance Event offers everything an electronic music lover’s heart desires: great Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  65


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Calendar parties, celebrated artists and dozens of interesting lectures and panels about their beloved genre. You don’t have to be an expert or professional to join the event, yet, you might just end up becoming one along the way. amsterdam-dance-event.nl

De Grote Schijn 18 – 27 October, Rotterdam, the Netherlands With the dropping of the wet, amber leaves, the woods and their mythical creatures awaken. In the Kralingse Bos, just outside of Rotterdam, you can join a most-magical walk amongst the trees. Don’t expect any actors dressed up like dwarfs, though. Smoke, light, water and colours do the trick and bring the trees to life on this two-kilometre autumn walk. degroteschijn.nl

Jenever Festival 19 – 20 October, Hasselt, Belgium In the Flemish city of Hasselt, they drink Jenever as if it were water. Literally! During the annual Jenever Festival, the delicious spirit even spouts from the fountain, Het Borrelmanneke. Besides this tipsy fountain, the festival offers plenty more activities and tastings in the city centre and at the interesting Jenever Museum. jeneverfeesten.be

Dutch Design Week 19 – 27 October, Eindhoven, the Netherlands 2,600 designers, 350,000 visitors, 110 event locations and more revolutionary design con-

Dutch Design Week. Photo: Boudewijn Bollmans

Film Fest Gent. Photo: Jeroen Willems

cepts than modern calculus could count: these figures sum up why Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven is not to be underestimated. Whether it is interior design, fashion, graphic design or a crossover of all three that floats your boat, this prestigious event has all it takes to satisfy your deepest design hunger. ddw.nl

Amsterdam Halloween 26 October, Amsterdam, the Netherlands If you have ever seen the original The Ring, tiny characters crawling out of TVs probably still terrify you. If so, try to avoid the Westerunie in Amsterdam on 26 October, as this year, ‘A Japanese Horror Story’ is the theme of the

Photo: De Grote Schijn

Big Bang Festival. Photo: Dries Segers

66  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

Amsterdam Dance Event. Photo: Niels De Vries

Le bain de cristal - Rene Magritte (1946). Photo: RMFAB, Brussels Succession Magritte c-o SABAM

Netherlands’ biggest Halloween party. Come dressed up in your freakiest outfit and party the scariest night of the year away… If you dare. halloween.amsterdam

Big Bang Festival 27 October – 10 November, Antwerp, Ghent & Brussels, Belgium Nothing is as cute, inspiring and fascinating as awakening children’s fantasies. The travelling Big Bang Festival exposes the young ones to all kinds of adventurous, colourful music in a myriad of activities. No sit-down, stay-silent festival here, but an interactive paradise for your small, curious explorers. bigbangfestival.eu


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Brussels Card / Museum Prinsenhof

The best way to see everything Brussels has to offer TEXT: ARIANE LAURENT-SMITH

Brussels, known as the heart of Europe, is a city rich in culture, art and gastronomy. Exploring all of this has never been easier, with the Brussels Card now giving tourists an all-access pass to museums and attractions across the city for 24, 48 or 72 hours. The Brussels Card is a great way to see the city’s classic attractions, providing free access to over 40 museums. Tourists can venture off the beaten path, exploring the Belgian Comic Strip Center that is dedicated to the ‘ninth art’: comics. At the Musical Instruments Museum, a magnificent Art Nouveau building, visitors

receive a free coffee, which can be drunk on the museum’s rooftop looking out across the city. Tourists also get free access to the Magritte Museum, dedicated to surrealism, with 200 works from Magritte, and ChocoStory Brussels, where a visit culminates with a master chocolatier demonstrating how to make artisan praline chocolate. Plus, Brussels Card owners get discounts at various chocolatiers, restaurants and bars, including the local Brussels Beer Project. Unlimited travel on public transport can be added to the card to help navigate the city

at the scan of a card. Another option is using the ‘Hop-On, Hop-Off’ bus as a shortcut to discover classic tourist attractions, such as the Parc du Cinquantenaire, Atomium and the Palais Royal. In addition to the card, tourists get a handy map so they can navigate the city easily, as well as a complete guide to the Belgian capital. The Brussels Card offers tourists an inspiring, practical and economical way to view Belgium’s beautiful capital, starting at 27 euros. Web: brusselscard.be

Choco-Story Brussels. Photo: Choco-Story Brussels

Belgian Comic Strip Center. Photo: Thomas Preuvot

La Maison du Roi. Photo: Andrea Anoni

A peek behind closed doors at Museum Prinsenhof Delft TEXT: DEBBY GROOTEMAN

From 11 October to 16 February 2020, Museum Prinsenhof Delft is home to the first exhibition dedicated solely to the famous 17th-century painter Pieter de Hooch. And this museum is not just chosen randomly: De Hooch himself enjoyed his glory days in Delft. Senior curator Anita Jansen explains the unique character of the exhibition: “The paintings come from all over the world – from museums including the National Gallery in London, to private collections. Together with Vermeer, De Hooch is considered Delft’s most famous painter from the Dutch Golden Age. But in the Netherlands, he actually never got credit for this work. So, we want to give his paintings a podium in our museum.” De Hooch is celebrated for his works of everyday domestic scenes with an open

doorway. The genre of courtyard scenes was completely new when De Hooch began painting them in the 17th century. “He gives a peek through what goes on behind closed doors – a fence with an open door that shows the garden, a room where you can see a mother with a child. Also, the compositions experiment a lot with light and perspective.” Jansen concludes that real architectural elements from Delft are recognisable in the paintings. ”For example, a new house is identified that really did exist in Delft. This makes a full story for the exhibition – to show it in our museum in Delft, with work from a renowned painter during his stay here in our city.” 

Web: pieterdehoochindelft.com

The Courtyard of a House in Delft, 1658. Photo: The National Gallery, London

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  67


Marcel Broodthaers.

Locally rooted and internationally connected TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK & ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: M HKA

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp (M HKA) is a cultural-heritage institution of the Flemish community, that showcases art, film and visual culture from national and foreign artists. Until January, they grant you a peek inside the head of Marcel Broodthaers: one of Belgium’s most influential and celebrated artists of the last century. While the idea of building a museum of contemporary art in Antwerp was already on the table in the 1940s, it was only in 1970 that the International Cultural Centre (I.C.C.) opened its doors. In no time, the city became a hub for national and international contemporary talents, including the American architect-turned-artist Gordon Matta-Clark in 1977. In an abandoned of68  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

fice building near the river Scheldt, he built Office Baroque; a work commemorating the 400th birthday of Peter Paul Rubens. When Matta-Clark died one year later, the I.C.C. strived to preserve the artwork in his memory. “Unfortunately, the building was demolished, but the spirit of MattaClark and his artwork remained very important for our museum’s foundation,” explains Bart De Baere, general and artistic director of the M HKA. The Foundation Gordon Matta-Clark helped fund the new contemporary art museum with works donated by national and international artists. Officially established in 1985 and inaugurated in 1987, the M HKA opened with 150 works from the foundation. Its first exhibition was dedicated to the work of Matta-Clark.

The collection & exhibitions Though it was mainly an art gallery in its early years, after the appointment of Bart de Baere as director in 2002, not only did the M HKA evolve into a museum that focused on research and collection development, but it also adopted a broader international perspective. “We have a huge collection of artworks from areas such as Russia, Asia and North Africa,


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  M HKA

and aim to continue developing by looking for unknown and emerging artists,” says De Baere. On the ground floor, you can gaze at its free-to-visit permanent collection: a well-selected display of 25 artworks from established national and international artists such as Jan Fabre, Luc Tuymans, Cindy Sherman and Marlene Dumas. Furthermore, you can enter two other halls with temporary expositions for free, as well. Just as noteworthy is Keith Haring’s mural dating back to 1987, housed at the M HKAFE and one of his few public European projects. “This synergy between local and international talent is paramount to us. Flanders is lucky enough to count numerous world-famous artists on its humble territory; both today and in the past. By displaying them alongside foreign work, we provide a broader international context.”

and James Lee Byars, the Broodthaers exhibition is the closing piece of our triptych about legendary contemporary artists and their connection with Antwerp. The city of Antwerp is the common thread throughout the entire exposition, harmoniously combining art pieces with personal memorabilia from Broodthaers.” The research for this show took no less than two years, but the result is incredible. Besides plenty of new insights into the life, work and head of Broodthaers, and a selection of works in all the media that he mastered, M HKA also displays his impressive work Décor: A Conquest by Marcel Broodthaers. “This installation is one of his last pieces, and an impressive one it is. After his death, the work disappeared from the radar and finally ended up at the V-A-C Foundation in Saint Petersburg. The fact that they lent it to us for the occasion and that we can display it in Belgium for the very first time is truly special.”

Marcel Broodthaers

Plenty to offer

Upstairs, you can immerse yourself in the work of many more contemporary talents. On the second floor, you will find Soleil Politique, a retrospective of the work of Belgian do-all Marcel Broodthaers. “After pointing the spotlight on Joseph Beuys

Just outside the museum, you can promenade through the atmospheric Zuid (South) neighbourhood, home to plenty of other museums, as well as art galleries, coffee bars, vintage shops and exclusive stores. “It’s a very vibrant, hip and young

neighbourhood. It really is the city’s cultural hotspot.” The museum itself organises a wide variety of events for visitors of all ages, as well. Adults, for example, can participate in bi-monthly yoga lessons held amidst the artworks on Thursdays, or join in on free guided tours (also on Thursdays), which actually invite them to enter into a dialogue instead of merely being told what they are looking at. Children can visit the Salon on the first floor, where they can partake in everything from fun games to drawing assignments. It is also worth mentioning that the M HKA’s venue can be rented for private events ranging from press conferences to celebrations. In short, there is plenty to experience and expand one’s horizons at this exciting museum. Enough reasons for a visit the next time you are in Antwerp!

Soleil Politique from Marcel Broodthaers is on display at M HKA until 19 January 2020.

Web: www.muhka.be

De Mosselpot – Marcel Broodthaers.

Issue 70  |  October 2019  |  69


Discover Benelux  |  Culture  |  Lifestyle Columns

STATES OF AR T

Holding a mirror to the world TEXT: MATT ANTONIAK 

If you like your art big, bold and with a gutpunch of feeling, then Joana Vasconcelos is the artist for you. And at her first Dutch retrospective – I’m Your Mirror at Kunsthal Rotterdam – Vasconcelos presents more than 30 of her iconic sculptures. A master of scale and proportion, Vasconcelos is known for her canny and exuberant use of everyday items, putting them into action as part of giant symbolic sculptures. Tiles, urinals, kitchen pans and cutlery have all had the Vasconcelos treatment, and have been used as part of her lampooning of consumer culture. Consistent throughout all her work is a feminist ideology, and recognition of the crafts and traditions of her native Portugal. One of her most famous works from the mid-’00s, The Bride, is a six-metre-tall chandelier made

entirely from tampons, and more recently she has managed a transformation of one of the most popular Portuguese symbols: the Rooster of Barcelos.

FMGB Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa, 2018. Photo: Erika Ede, Joana Vasconcelos

The most iconic work on show at this retrospective is her 2018 work I’ll Be Your Mirror; a huge Venetian mask made from dozens of ornate mirrors. Able to look through the mask, to pretend to be whoever they want, visitors are never fully able to escape their true reflections. Vasconcelos is an artist who retains that magic touch – able to be funny whilst heartfelt, subversive and direct – this is a rare opportunity to see so much work all in one place and is not one to miss. Joana Vasconcelos’ I’m Your Mirror is on show at Kunsthal Rotterdam until 17 November 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.

BEER OF THE MONTH

Duvel Tripel Hop Citra TEXT & PHOTO: STUART FORSTER

Duvel Tripel Hop Citra is a Belgian Imperial Pale Ale (IPA) that’s big in flavour and strong in alcohol. This citrusy beer was the 2012 recipient of the consumer trophy at the Zythos Bierfest, held in Leuven, and a gold medal at the Brussels Beer Challenge of the same year. As those awards suggest, Duvel Tripel Hop Citra is a cracking beer whose carefully crafted flavour belies its boozy potency. It’s available in 330 millilitre bottles whose shape and labels look similar to the famous strong golden ale whose name means ‘Devil’. The triple hop variation on the famous brand evolved in response to growing demand for hoppier beers in the middle of the last decade. IPAs experienced a resurgence in popularity during the craft beer revolution and Duvel Moorgat began selling versions of a beer brewed with three kinds of hops in 2007. 70  |  Issue 70  |  October 2019

Brewed with Saaz-Saaz and Styrian Golding hops, Duvel Tripel Hop Citra’s name reflects that a third variety is added during lagering. The cones of Citra hops, grown in the Yakima Valley of Washington state in the USA, add intensiveness to the aroma and flavour. This beer has an obviously hoppy aroma, bursting with zesty citrus and an undertone of pine. Ideally, it should be poured into a tulipshaped glass and served cold. It is like straw in colour and has a white head. The intensive zestiness pops through in the flavour too, in which lemon, grapefruit and even a suggestion of pineapple swirl. It’s tangy yet refreshing, leaving a slightly bitter taste. For IPA fans, this is one to sip, savour and enjoy. Brewer: Duvel Moorgat Brewery Alcohol content: 9.5 per cent

Stuart Forster was named Journalist of the Year at the 2015, 2016 and 2019 Holland Press Awards. Five generations of his family have been actively involved in the brewing industry.


Profile for Scan Client Publishing

Discover Benelux, Issue 70, October 2019  

This month we caught up with Dutch piano duo Lucas and Arthur Jussen, to get the lowdown on their much-anticipated sixth studio album, Bach....

Discover Benelux, Issue 70, October 2019  

This month we caught up with Dutch piano duo Lucas and Arthur Jussen, to get the lowdown on their much-anticipated sixth studio album, Bach....