CHANGE UNIVERSE: Magazine Jewels
Brussels | Store GuideNovember 13, 2009

Shopping Bruxellois

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Brussels is a very interesting city to shop.

Antiques, fashion or design every small , medium and large shop in Brussels has a story to be told. Rather than offering you a traditional shopping guide, ( there are plenty of excellent ones in the market,)

I have picked a selection of my favorites shops, not only because of their special and selected merchandise of which by the way I have had an immense pleasure to portrait in this post ( being a luxury global brand nowadays is very common)

but because of the  stories behind the mysterious windows panes who at times reflect the owner's lifestyles, interests, and local architect's insights on modern Bruxellois living,  all displaying the uniqueness of some of the city most hidden treasures.

L'Ecuyer

This  traditional gallery at Avenue Louise formerly  founded in 1945 at rue de l'Ecuyer is since 1952, directed by Gilbert Winans, known himself as the " L' Ecuyer" ( The Horseman).

This same gallery, has witnessed timelessly  the evolution of world of antiques dealers and the fashionable trends of world collectors. Always faithful of his clientele's taste , he could bring Charles the Xth andNapoleon III to Art Nouveau and the Scandinavian design.

From beautiful blue and pastel colored Opalines to Belle Epoque glass vases of artists such as Galle,DaumGruber,up to material works of Samuel Herman for Val Saint Lambert .

Since always," L'Ecuyer" has been  proposing antique jewelry but also and mostly he has defended that Art Nouveau, from contemporary Scandinavian, English,(Grima)  creation

It's s a rainy day, I rush into the entrance door of the legendary shop, monsieur Gilbert himself opens the door for me, after turning a key lock four times to the left. " Malmoiselle bonjour" he adds ' my assistant will take care of you".

I introduce myself, ask if I can take a few pictures of his stunning collection of art pieces, furniture and interesting assemblages while I show him my press and business card " New York! Oh I love that city - he says with a large but nostalgic smile" I used to go there several times a year with my partner and companion, you know I used to design several pieces to Asprey and other important houses over there!"

He really seems a very interesting person, while I look around in this old glamour gallery, I learn that the owner apart from launching Belgian artists in all forms of the beginning of the century, he designs all sorts of artifacts himself with such a joy and creativity.

bjects and vases with sensuous lines and subtle light, jewelry that carry feminine figures and curly hair, fluent dresses and attitudes, some having geometric precious  details in blue Agathe stones, a flair ofJaponism and several colorful papier marche collages bottles, chairs and art works he created all along these years  of which he is very proud of.

Gilbert Winhams  is showing obvious  sympathy towards my curious interest in sneaking behind a semi - open door leading to an office with several books and a beautiful  Art Nouveau stained glass roof.

" With another large smile Monsieur Gilbert who at the age of 81 still travels all over Europe to source unmistakably original and rare objects asks me with a lecturing almost defying tone :

" I am sure you have heard about our  Belgian painter, architect and interior designer, Henry Van de  Velde ?  "Together with Victor Horta he could be considered one of the main founders and representatives of Art Nouveau in Belgium." He says

I must tell you that he like many of all artist from which you see the art works in this gallery, were all my personal friends. " While he talks to me I see him bending under a small table from where he lifts up quickly with the help of his assistant the gracious and very polite Sylvie, a very sexy vintage brown leather Louis Vuitton suitcase with a silver and worn-out buckle.

"  Van de Velde spent the most important part of his career in Germany and had a decisive influence on German architecture and design at the beginning of the 20th century." he tells me while he ask me to follow him with his hand. A set of hundreds of black and white old portraits of Van Der Velde all dedicated, signed and written at the back with sketches for his long time friend Gilbert.

Sylvie Gilbert assistant smiles at the secret revelation, a cute black cat and a catwalk of sculptures made of stone and clay in the pretty garden behind a luminous window smile as well conspiring silently with those never shared secrets and legendary personalities breathing through the walls of this eclectic gallery.

Essentiel

The dynamic spirit of this 100% Belgian brand caught my attention through their flagship store while walking in the direction of the Toison D'Or for a gauffre and a hot choccolate.

Typical of the 90ties concept store, you can easily browse and find behind a glazed made- in- China  Sang -de -Bouf vase, the scarf you' ve been searching forever to give your boyfriend.

You find yourself diving unconsciously into one of the last uber books with the title of nothing less than " Dark Nostalgia" realizing it was your next aspirational design style for your grandmother's apartment but you did not know it yet.

Cute, expensive bright colored leather helmets for your son's bike  week-end escapades in Knokke le Zoute.

Fancy sneakers and the last high-tech device which are powerful headphones preciously packed in white and yellow boxes probably as trendy as the phones themselves will tempt you almost viciously while ' I am not going to teach your boyfriend how to dance' from the Black kids plays its tune through white and micro Bose speakers strategically placed in throughout the store alley.

Essentiel is  a line created in 1999 by Esfandiar Eghtessadi ( Nicole Codine's son) who grew up in fashion.

Among the Zebrano wood shelves, animal prints and Deco Golden Palm trees sculptures suggesting a blending atmosphere between 1930 African Decadence  and Miami modern shabbiness, you soon realize that  glamour and femininity in the couple creation go hand in hand with comfort .

This balance is mainly inspired by the complicity of the creator Esfandiar and his wife Inge Onsea. Essentiel offers a range of clothing which can be worn and combined to the infinite, a line that fits to all moods shifting with great ease from relaxed style to a more sophisticated one.

The brand also offers a collection for girls 4 to 16 years old mischievous and charming at the upper floor of this  impressive flagship at  Avenue Louise. The Brussels  flagship opened two years ago by the couple, hired Belgian architects Estelle and Florent .

The brand is success story par excellence: Esfandiar Eghtessadi and Inge Onsea started with just a few T-shirts, and now seven years later, Essentiel is a beloved staple of multi-brand boutiques in Belgium.The brand is sold in ten exclusive stores as well.

Flamant

With a very precise sense of fine works, Flamant Home Interiors has invented a concept that is both simple and ingenious: the revival of handicraft furniture and old objects adapted to the needs of today. Furniture that seems to have existed forever and which passes from one generation to the next.

In Paris, Hamburg, Brussels and Antwerp, and more or less everywhere in the world, Flamant Home Interiors has installed a "Bourgeois-Bohemian" art of living, a blend of nonconformity and elegance, tradition and cool. Its main quality: knowing how to make unconventional use of even the most conventional things.

Oblivious of fashionable trends or systems of every kind, in search of perfection, Flamant provides a resolutely modern vision of decoration, incorporating comfort, elegance and originality. Consequently, the border between past and present becomes decidedly blurred. The Sablon Shop presents  interiors of discrete luxury, of intimate charm, in which family furniture, curiosities and contemporary armchairs share the space with the glossy leather of elegant sofas and interiors.

More than a style, a life style as well, at ease in a loft in New York, an apartment in Paris, a chalet in Megève, a bastide in the South of France, a little house by the seaside. It has to be said that, at Flamant, we have a taste for lived-in houses. the crudeness of trade furniture making the best of the juxtaposition of yesterday's and today's styles.

Vitra Point

Is a stunning high ceiling  space, truly among my favorites in the city, housing Vitra furniture collection and reflecting it's  innovative philosophy. This showroom is located in the heart of Brussesl in the most prestigious place called the " Sablon" and today on the window it is written" We at Vitra like elephants"  I find this teser ther perfect excuse to check the place out an it's reading about the mentioned wild animals.

Opened in 2006,the 500 square meters is given over to a comprehensive collection magnificently displayed  on the walls  which includes 20 the century re-editions of design classics.

It's so overwhelming to walk under very bright lights surrounded by Charles and Ray Eames black leather office chairs neatly assembled over a Jasper Morrison's 'Ply'  wood table.

Frank Gehry , Verner Panton heart and cone chairs majestically suspended in the air over a long and a short  George Nelson 's  cute and multicolored ' Marshmellow's 'sofas ,Ron Arad  'Bad Tempered ' Chair.

The shop owner sitting on a white 'Wire' chair checking a price on his computer invites me to explore all rooms of the store authorizing me to take as many pictures as I wish.

But my first wish is to ' chase' Charles and ray  Eames plywood elephant designed by Eames, 1945. I want to give it to a special sweetheart.  (Check it out, in the picture above) it's so cute! After that I can shoot with my camera lens everywhere I look

Argentinian Emilio Ambaz, Iraky Zaha Hadid, Japanese Tadao Ando, Porugues Alvaro Siza and Alberto Antonio Citterio from Italy, among many others furnish this spectacular showroom with beautiful colors, photographs but most of all a  precious miniature  collection , perfect for gifts to complete the range.

The miniatures collection present the most important classics of modern furniture history in miniature scale of 1:6. their construction, materials and colors correspond to the historical Vitra design museum collection original, right down to the last detail. Because they are so true to the originals, the miniatures are not only valuable collector’s items, but also ideal illustrative materials for universities, colleges of design and architects. the miniature collection is unique worldwide. for each miniature there is a license agreement with the designer or his heirs.

Ritual Gallery

Africa is at the crossing of the oldest cultures and traditions. The fascinating symbolism and variety of its different type of ceremonies, the intensity of some of its tribal rituals, highlights with sometimes the most unexpected turn, the richness and depth of their values and beliefs. African Tribal Art is considered as the witness of these beliefs, some masterpieces even being the center point of the ceremonies. These objects have a story to tell, a story of a ritual or a celebration.

The spirit injected in the creation of these objects, the energy contained within them, make African Tribal Art one of the finest and most sought art in the world today and allow its dignified place on the great board of human art. Among all forms of art this is by far one of my favorites ever. Every time I am in the city I like to stop by at the gallery and check the present exhibitions.

The 2R Ritual Gallery exposes African Tribal Art objects or collections at the heart of Brussels. Moreover, it also centralizes information in this domain still fairly unknown around the globe, domain in which even the most passionate collectors often have serious difficulties to trace objects or collections.

The two passionate and experimented art dealers and galley owners, Renaud Riley and Roger Bourahimou define themselves as experts and consultants, helping art collectors and amateurs as well as investors to find the object they are looking for with all the guaranties of authenticity and price estimate.

Francis Jassens Van der Maelen

Founded in 1978, this  gallery of Francis Janssens van der Maelen with beautiful interiors is installed in the « Grand Sablon » in Brussels, place privileged and renowned for the trade of art. Specialized in antique silverware and objects of art, this antique dealer proposes a very beautiful selection of European decorative silver of the 18th and 19th centuries, and from Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods.

These objects wear, mainly, marks of France, Belgium, England, Russia..., as well as those of the best silversmiths recognized for their perfect mastery of this art so noble.   Some statuettes in terra-cotta and bronze, pieces in porcelain and ceramic, pictures of high quality are also shown to the amateurs. Francis Janssens van der Maelen is a member of the « French Syndicate of the Antique Dealers » and of the « Royal Chamber of the Antique Dealers of Belgium ».

Ut Pictura Musica

In the heart of the historic  place the Sablon, sit comfortably in style and listen to your favorite classics admiring the beautiful view overlooking the large windows of this very cozy music shop.

If you are lucky enough to meet with the owner, you will have the music counseling, and a VIP concierge service for  any reservation to  in-house or public classical music concert in the country. Wow!

Senteures D' Ailleurs:

This absolutely impressive and very selective boutique, is situated at 94, Avenue Louise is a different type of space: it has bridged the gap between a straightforward perfume store and the so called concept store so popular now. The idea is to be neither of these two but instead to create an ambiance which simply visually matches the refinement of the products it houses.

The boutique is comprised of two worlds: home fragrances, perfumes and skincare, all openly displayed on beautifully lit shelves.

When first entering this vast and rich world, the choice can seem overwhelming. That's why I advise you to let yourself be guided by their team of experts who are all trained as noses to help you discover your dream fragrance. It's a must, trust me!

Joelle's Tips:

Art and Antiques :

l'Ecuyer: Avenue Louise 187,B Bruxelles /Tel: + 32 2 648 0684 / Fax: +32 2 647 3564 / e.mail:galerieecuyer@yahoo.com

2R Ritual Gallery: Rue van Moer 2 / 1000 Bruxelles  / info@2r-ritualgallery.com / Tel : +32 479 50 43 90

Francis Janseens van der Maelens Grand Sablon ,Rue Ernest Allard 23  1000 Brussels, Belgium Phone: +32 2 502 71 80 ,Fax:     +32 2 502 87 03 ,Email:   Jvdm@fineartsilver.com

Sablon Antique market : Well-heeled locals spend their weekends browsing pristine antiques on Place du Grand Sablon. The shops around the square are best for African antiques and exquisite chocolates. The square's many cafés are perfect for people-watching on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Young Gallery : Pascal Young opened his first gallery in June 2000, presenting a collection of photographs chosen for their formal and contemporary spirit. Conrad Hotel 1050 Bruxelles

Belgian Fashion :

Essentiel : Avenue Louise 66 Tel +32 2 513 1891 / info@essentiel.be

Chine: Avenue Louise 82/84 1050 Bruxelles Tel + 32 2 512 4 52

Francis Ferent:Galerie Louise 49-50 - 1050 Brussels /+32 2 511.83.87/ ferent.galerie@skynet.be

Olivier Strelli: 72, Avenue Louise, 1050 Bruxelles / = 32 2 512 5607

The Brussels fashion scene has established its headquarters in another part of the city: the rue Antoine Dansaert (in the city centre)  district, at a stone’s throw from the Grand Place. It is the hotspot for mostly young creators and avant-garde new Belgian designers. Around the rue  discover several upcoming designers such as Conni Kaminski (draped ensembles for men and women), Y-dress? (convertible clothes for city nomads), Le Fabuleux Marcel de Bruxelles (easywear anywhere check the website it's fabulous), and Christa Reniers (contemporary jewellery). One of the first fashion shops  that opened in rue Antoine Dansaert and in doing so boosted the image of the district is Rue Blanche (sophisticated fits and prints), which has in the meanwhile become one of the classic brands  in the Belgian fashion scene.

Design :

Vitra Point 35 place du Grand Sablon / Grote Zavel 1000 Bruxelles / Tel + 32 2 242 0202 / Fax + 32 241 0101

Flamant:    Place du Grand Sablon 36, 1000 - Brussels - BelgiumTel.: +32 54 41 54 7/ Fax.: +32 54 41 93 22 6969

Other Goodies:

Senteur D' Alilleurs :Avenue Louise 94, 1050 Bruxelles Tel: +32 2 511 6969

Ut Pictura Musica: Rue Bodenbroek, 8  1000 Brussels - Tel  +32 (0)2 256 77 32 / Email utpicturamusica@fugalibera.com Classical music Cd in a wonderful interiors.

Sablon Shops

Eat, drink  while you shop:

Il Giusto Flamant Italian  menu very  casual / Place du Grand Sablon 36, 1000 - Brussels - Belgium Tel-fax: +32 2 514 47 17 - ilgusto@flamant.com

Au Vieux Saint Martin : ( my favourire Brasserie ever, check the filet Americain and french fries ) 38, Place du Grand Sablon 1000 Brussels Tel + 32 2 -512.64.76

Le Perroquet: Very cute for L' Aperitif!  31, Rue Watteau 1000 Bruxelles Tel : 32 202-512.99.22

Et qui va promener le Chien ? Best location for your antiques galleries shopping the feeling is that you are in a middle of a garden in the hrest of the city. Rue de Rollobeek 2, Brussels, 1000 / Tel: +32 25032304

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