Le Pristine, Antwerp by Space Copenhagen

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A Space Copenhagen-designed restaurant for a Michelin-starred chef


Project Info

Client

Sergio Herman and Verso
Spatial concept & interior design

Space Copenhagen
spacecph.dk
Art direction

Space Copenhagen
Size

445 sq m
Covers

176


Words by Sophie Tolhurst

Images by Peter Paul De Meijer


Le Pristine in Antwerp, the latest restaurant for Michelin-starred chef Sergio Herman, has been designed by Danish design studio Space Copenhagen. Opened by Herman in collaboration with Belgian luxury fashion boutique Verso, the restaurant occupies the bottom floor of a 1960s modernist building within a prominent shopping street, while Verso is located in the neighbouring 17th-century mansion.

Entering from the street, the restaurant experience starts with bread – that is, with a welcoming bakery-deli that sits at the front of the long 445 sq m space. Beyond is a stylish bar with seating alongside, with an intimate atmosphere thanks to a canopy above it: a large black metal frame, filled with an abundance of locally sourced plants. Further along, the space opens out to the restaurant.



 

The grand 6m-high ceiling and exposed structural elements – left over from the partial demolition of the modernist building – add intrigue and drama to the atmosphere. The colour palette is dark and moody, but at both ends full-height glazing allows light to penetrate the space; at the far end it opens out onto a courtyard, home to a 10m-high tree and the wood store for the traditional wood fired oven.

The contrasting architectural styles of the 1960s building and its baroque neighbour are to be found across another courtyard, bordered on its other side by the Verso boutique. This space is used for outdoor dining and, with the same Belgian stone flooring as inside and visual connectivity through the glazing, continues the restaurant experience.


Quelle Fete, an artwork by design collective Rotganzen

Above the open kitchen sits a large 3×3.6m charcoal-on-canvas artwork by Antwerp artist Rinus Van De Velde called As Much as You Are Forever Connecting, which depicts the energy of a restaurant – from diners conversing to the empty plates being cleared around them.

This is just one of many curated pieces throughout in an interior scheme by Space Copenhagen that makes the most of Antwerp’s cultural credentials. As the design practice co-founder Signe Bindslev Henriksen explains: ‘The project has been conceived as a montage of creative talents orchestrated by [Space Copenhagen’s other co-founder] Peter [Bundgaard Rützou] and myself to create something more. The result is a composition of different elements, which are not naturally balanced. However, the final scheme uses this disruption to create a truly energetic design experience.’

The restaurant occupies the ground floor of a 1960s modernist building
The open kitchen

This creative montage begins, of course, with Herman’s food, but the designers also draw on the architecture of the city, starting with the two striking examples of the mansion and modernist building, and have added a heavy dose of contemporary design pieces and bespoke furniture into the mix. Designer Sabine Marcelis has created a bespoke 7m-long, pink, translucent, resin bar, and a lighting piece called Dawn Light, consisting of a circle of white neon tubing within the same pink resin.

Decorative lighting, an awning and a reception desk were created by Dutch designers Maarten Baas and Bertjan Pot, all of which celebrate and display a metal clay technique developed by the pair called LEDS Clay, merging Bass’s Clay series with Pots’ lighting design. The playful designs feature bulbous lights emerging from organic, rough-textured forms.

two of the three ‘melted’ disco balls by design collective Rotganzen;
Quelle Fete, an artwork by design collective Rotganzen

Frederik Molenschot has designed the lighting for the cafe as well as a 5m-tall sculptural installation called Hacked Cheese, made of large Parmesan wheels in different blue hues, stacked and hung on the string like a punchbag. Three custom, melted disco balls are a creation named Quelle Fete by design collective Rotganzen: one squeezed between a pair of columns in the courtyard; one overhanging the balcony of the restaurant’s mezzanine level; and one dripping off a wooden joist against one of the building’s exposed brick walls.

Antwerp artist Rinus Van De Velde’s As Much as You Are Forever Connecting artwork; Antwerp artist Rinus Van De Velde’s As Much as You Are Forever Connecting artwork, seen through the courtyard

All of these are set against an interior colour scheme drawn from the backbone of Antwerp’s artistic heritage, referencing the artistic legacy of the Flemish and Dutch masters, with the warm rusty reds, ‘milky blacks’, sand and grey tones of their paintings.

The sand and grey tones reference the artistic legacy of Flemish and Dutch mastersThe sand and grey tones reference the artistic legacy of Flemish and Dutch masters

Other materials include smoked oak joinery against industrial steel beams and exposed walls. The Antwerp Chair, developed by Danish furniture brand Fredericia, was designed specifically for the space, while tablecloths and napkins use Belgian linen, designed by concept studio SH19 and manufactured by Flemish company Verilin.

The open kitchenThe open kitchen

Commenting on the design for Le Pristine, Bundgaard Rützou says: ‘Antwerp is [a] relatively small city but extremely design-driven. From the outset we were fascinated by the renaissance architecture, history and artists from the region, and the way they depicted rural and rudimentary settings, people eating, enjoying a meal with a sense of humbleness. This informed how we envisioned the social experience at Le Pristine, and the restaurant has been designed with a sense of slow aesthetics as a vehicle for modern social encounters in Antwerp.’

 


Key Suppliers

Bespoke Antwerp Chair

Fredericia
fredericia.com

Table cloths and linens

Design by concept studio SH19; manufactured by Verilin
verilin.be

Bespoke bar and light installation

Sabine Marcelis
sabinemarcelis.com

Decorative lighting, awning and reception desk

Maarten Baas & Bertjan Pot

Artworks

Frederik Molenschot
studiomolen.nl

Rinus Van De Velde
rinusvandevelde.com

Rotganzen
rotganzen.com



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