It is impossible to imagine what’s behind the large double width door of gallery Valerie Traan, one of the locations we visited during our Function+Form design tour of Antwerp. This white, modernist gallery space is also the private home of art director Veerle Wenes who wanted to live in the same place that she worked, dissolving the distinction between the two. During gallery open hours, Veerle allows the public into her home where the bright whites make way for soothing greys (there’s that blue-grey I was talking about) and where more works of art transform into useful objects over the look-but-don’t-touch feel of a gallery.
A former working space for nuns, Veerle wanted to hold on to the existing architecture including the distinctly Flemish herringbone brick floor, combining a contemporary black staircase and large windows looking out into a central courtyard. It is clear that Veerle lives by the art she chooses, in that she is drawn to every day objects which are each interpreted differently according to its maker, drawn to the story behind each piece. Works on display included ‘The End Of The World For Beginners’ exhibition created by artist Johan De Wit (pictured above) whose pieces, despite taking on the look of battered, weather worn metal relics are actually constructed entirely of paper. Looking into another courtyard the Wire S chairs by Muller Van Severen show a clever use of outdoor exhibition space.
The gallery is also home to Valerie Objects, a new design label launched in collaboration with Axel Van Den Bossche and Frank Lambert (founders of Serax) working with architects, designers and artists to bring to life tangible objects. Highlights of the collection includes the Rocking Chair and Hanging Lamp by Muller Van Severen, The Cutlery Project, featuring two different designs by Maarten Baas and Koichi Futatsumata, and Hidden Vases (a personal favourite) by Dutch designer Chris Kabel.
Upstairs awaits a playful room of colour and shape, with pieces by Muller Van Severen taking centre stage and a series of hidden doors to add to the sense of surprise.
A destination not to be missed by art and design lovers alike, the gallery puts a completely different spin on the conventional public space, offering a fresh perspective for visitors to immerse themselves in. I for one will be back.
Visit gallery Valerie Traan – Reyndersstraat 12, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium | Open Thurs, Fri, Sat 2pm – 6pm and by appointment.
The Function+Form Bloggers Design Tour Antwerp was organised in association with Pentacom PR and Design Centre Winkelhaak. #BloggersTourAntwerp #WeAreFunctionAndForm.