Living with art in a Belgian house from the 1900s | Interiors
FFrom Fabian von Spreckelsen’s steel sculpture in the garden to the curve of Kaspar Hamacher’s Lounger chair inside the house, there’s a fascinating assortment of pieces to admire in the writer and designer’s Belgian home. Frenchwoman Lise Coirier.
“For us, culture is not the icing on the cake, it is at the heart of everything,” explains Coirier. She and her Swedish-Italian husband, Gian Giuseppe Simeone, believe that being surrounded by art has a fundamental impact on the quality of life.
It is a thread that weaves itself through their work. Both founded their own creative agencies and wrote several books on design. Coirier is also the publisher and editor of the acclaimed biennial The real life of art and design magazine, while Simeone, an art historian and archaeologist by training, is a consultant for the European Union on its cultural support programs.
This passion for art, design and photography is evident in their home on the outskirts of Brussels, in Tervuren, where the work of 30 artists they represent at Spazio Nobile, a gallery they own in central Brussels, is very exposed.
“It’s a way of experimenting with what we recommend to our collectors – it’s important to know what it’s like to live with art objects,” explains Coirier.
Built in 1900, their home was originally designed in the tradition of Flemish Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque with a hint of Art Nouveau, as was the rage at the turn of the century.
It is also the house that Simeone’s parents bought when he was 18, and where the couple have now lived for 23 years with their daughters, Juliette and Eva.
When they move here, after the death of Simeone’s father, the couple face the dilemma of leaving their apartment in Ixelles, which now houses their art gallery, and the daunting prospect of fitting out a large family home. that exceeds their budget.
“I waited nearly 15 years to understand the spaces and have the means to invest in this huge house,” says Coirier, who wanted a substantial update while preserving period details. The couple also wanted to mix vintage design pieces and contemporary works with more exotic items and ethnographic artwork.
Their friend, interior designer and art historian Anne Derasse, was instrumental in designing furniture for high-ceilinged rooms, while creating much-needed storage space.
An original mosaic floor and neoclassical stained glass windows from 1900 line the hallway. A porcelain stoneware sculpture by Portuguese artist Bela Silva enhances the Swedish Jugendstil chest of drawers.
The large living room with its high fireplace, high ceilings and fluted columns with neoclassical details comes into its own when the couple organize events – but it is in the kitchen, the dining room and the small library on the first floor that daily life unfolds.
A Carina Seth Andersson frosted glass vase sits on an oval dining table by Hans Wegner in the dining room. On the sideboard is a walnut tray by Kaspar Hamacher made for the couple’s 20th anniversary and on which sits a small vintage enamel horse by ceramicist Lisa Larson.
Above the door is Wilde Strippen by Piet Stockmans, which seems to dance across the walls and plays with the decorative details typical of a 1900 home. On the fireplace, next to Amy’s pastel and marble fragment Hilton, is a stoneware pendant used as a bookend.
The living room, with raw silk curtains, is furnished with a large Hay sofa and on the fireplace, a vintage Mezza Chimera lamp by Vico Magistretti stands alongside stoneware and pottery by Vincent Van Duysen. “We love the fragility of ceramics and glass or the strength of wood to the touch and the patina it acquires over time,” says Coirier.
The kitchen has been renovated by the Belgian architect Sébastien Caporusso, retaining the original fittings of the Cubex cupboards, a striking example of the first American-style kitchens.
An oval marble table has been added. “We didn’t want a typical kitchen, we wanted to organize it in such a way that we could show certain rooms,” explains Coirier. A glass “enfilade” made at Atelier Mestdagh presents Bela Silva and prototypes by Sebastian Herkner for an exhibition “Glass is Tomorrow”.
The garden was designed by architect Aldrik Heirman, who worked with Van Duysen and David Chipperfield. “We are on the edge of the Sonian Forest, so the garden really required a connoisseur’s eye,” explains Coirier. “It was important that it looked as natural as possible and in harmony with the house – as if it had always been there.”