Called Blueness, the restaurant is located in the heart of Antwerp’s fashion district, on the ground floor of a 17th-century renaissance building.
It is three-Michelin-star chef Sergio Herman’s third restaurant and the second that he has collaborated on with Space Copenhagen following Le Pristine, a moodily-lit restaurant that takes its design cues from the Old Masters.
At Blueness, the menu consists of fine-casual cuisine with French and Japanese influences.
The Danish design studio, headed by Signe Bindslev Henriksen and Peter Bundgaard Rützou, wanted to reflect the menu’s duality within the interior and also showcase the different purposes and activities of the building throughout history.
As a result, the interior fuses the building’s classical architecture with new Scandinavian design elements while its layout offers diners the option of a theatrical dining experience at the custom bar, where they can observe the open kitchen, or a tranquil candlelit dinner experience in the main dining room.
Original features – such as tall ceilings, carved sandstone and marble columns and elaborate metalwork window and door frames – are paired with clean-lined furniture and a number of site-specific works from artists including Valentin Loellmann, Destroyers Builders and Mae Engelgeer.
The studio describes these bespoke commissions as “otherworldly” with Rützou referring to them as “unexpected esoteric futuristic elements”.
The custom bar is the work of Destroyers Builders, a Brussels and Antwerp-based design studio, founded by Linde Freya Tangelder.
Handmade in deep red walnut wood, it has rounded edges which have been carefully treated to create a smooth tactile surface. The dark red walnut is complemented by brushed steel worksurfaces for easy cleaning and maintenance.
A series of dark oak Spine barstools designed by Space Copenhagen for Danish furniture brand Frederica Furniture line the front of the bar. As well as the bar, Destroyers Builders also crafted a futuristic waiter’s station in cast aluminium.
The dining room is furnished with comfortable furniture in subtle colour tones and natural materials such as wood, stone, brass and linen.
A sculptural candlelight chandelier by artist Loellmann hangs in the centre of the space. Its four arms stretch down from the ceiling with platforms for candles that provide gentle, diffused light.
Bespoke light oak tables are surrounded by soft benches upholstered in warm rose fabric by Sahco and Kvadrat while other tables in the space are flanked by sand-coloured Loafer dining chairs by Space Copenhagen for &Tradition.
Four custom pieces by Latvian designer Germans Ermičs were commissioned for the restaurant, the largest of which transforms the main staircase into an immersive art experience with copper-toned cladding that shifts from dark to light tones as guests descend.
In the basement, Ermičs has created a colourful light installation positioned behind wrought metal bars that date back to the 18th Century.
Upstairs, bespoke tatami drapes by Dutch artist Englegeer created a restful ambience.
“More than anything this project has been shaped by a series of very intuitive processes, from our very first thoughts about the design of the restaurant, that carried through to the end result,” commented Henriksen.
“The design process has been fueled by the fragmented history of the 17th-century renaissance building and the ongoing dialogue between the team and the commissioned artists who are central to the final design.”
Known for its work in the hospitality industry, Space Copenhagen is the studio behind Esmée, a classic brasserie with a courtyard feel in the heart of Copenhagen, and Musling, a seafood restaurant overlooking Copenhagen’s Torvehallerne food market.
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