Unlike any other concept store, husband-and-wife team Ilse Cornelissens and Tim Van Geloven renovated the century-old space with the help of renowned Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen to create a homey atmosphere throughout the building. This concept spans from the boutique on the ground floor, for which the pair exclusively selects high fashion pieces and design objects, to the food in the kitchen that is locally sourced, made with ingredients fresh from the market. The 1st floor space is occupied by Graanmarkt 13’s own gallery, which also functions as a meeting place for up-and-coming creative talent. Last but not least,
The co-founders turned the apartment on the top floor into a luxurious place to stay, after having lived in it themselves for several years.
We spoke with Ilse Cornelissens about Graanmarkt 13’s success story since its opening in 2010, the concept behind it as well as the creative scene in Antwerp…
How did you come up with the concept for Graanmarkt 13?
Ilse Cornelissens: We were living in Amsterdam when the concept came up in our minds. We were intrigued by others who’d done it before us and we were especially charmed by the concept of L’Inde le Palais in Bologna. In 2007 there was no such a thing as a concept store in Amsterdam. Since finding the right building in Amsterdam was very difficult, we actually just packed our bags and left to the city of Antwerp, to which Ilse has deep ties.
"After finding the building at Graanmarkt, 13 the idea took on its own life."
What kind of atmosphere do you want to create?
Ilse Cornelissens: “The concept always has been a house instead of a concept store.”We would like to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Since Graanmarkt 13 used to be our home – we lived in the apartment as a family for four years – the concept always has been a house instead of a concept store. Our clients are welcome in our house and our very personal project where they will be surrounded with our personal lifestyle.
Do you know what was here before?
Ilse Cornelissens: “During the 16th century, the Graanmarkt was really a market place where they used to trade grain.” During the 16th century, the Graanmarkt was really a market place where they used to trade grain. Before we realized our concept, the building was abandoned for almost ten years. And before that, it housed a Chinese restaurant. During that time, the building was more or less ruined – the nice historic details weren’t preserved.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? What did you do before?
Ilse Cornelissens: I am a lawyer and Tim is an economist, but we actually started ‘Graanmarkt 13’ very soon after our studies, without any experience.
How would you describe the creative scene in Antwerp?
Ilse Cornelissens: Antwerp is a small and sometimes even underestimated city. Compared to other cities, it is affordable, and therefore it attracts a creative scene. So many creative talents live in this city, working in all types of fields, established and upcoming. They travel around our cosmopolitan world to spread their creativity but love to be based in and return to Antwerp. It is a city to be proud, of and a city that is not yet finished at all.
"Creativity will make the evolution of Antwerp even more interesting."