At OPUMO, we’re great advocates of surrounding ourselves with beautiful objects. A home filled with great design is sure to be more inspiring than an empty one. We see the items in our homes almost every day, and some for several hours at once. The idea that these things that we see, analyse and live amongst have no bearing on our creative output is pessimistic at best. We forced Derek Van Heurck, artistic director for Bellerose, to allow us into his home, to see if our suspicions were true. We expected a tasteful colour palette, a focus on quality and a touch of eclectic flair – we were not disappointed.
A quick glance at Derek’s unique Brussels apartment should be enough to make a few things clear. As the artistic director for Bellerose, it’s obvious that his love for fine materials doesn’t stop at the clothes the brand creates or the interior decoration of its stores. Authenticity and craftsmanship are key. Next to that, the apartment’s dark colour palette allows an eclectic mix of lamps, artworks and design objects to truly shine. It’s a fascinating place full of unexpected yet deliberate choices.
“Honestly, there aren’t a whole lot of buildings in Brussels that I find beautiful. When I accidentally stumbled upon this place some three years ago, it immediately charmed me, even if my usual preference goes to buildings from the late 60s or 70s with bay windows and terraces. The big challenge was to make this apartment my own. To turn it from something classic and chic into something contemporary and lively, while respecting the spirit of the building”.
The 1927 building itself is striking to say the least. Combine that with its location – between the prestigious Avenue Louise, the burgeoning and bustling Place Flagey and the calm of the Bois de la Cambre – and you’re onto a winner. It took Derek a while to decide exactly how he was going to make the space his own. In the end, he decided to start from scratch. Getting rid of more recent modifications, he brought the apartment’s structure back to the way it originally was. Out went the parquet floor, in came a thick black carpet in every room, except for the kitchen and bathroom where a marble floor was installed. Out went the white walls, in came a daring dark green. Only the ceilings were left pristine to add some light.
The different rooms and their sizes are all in line with their functions and Derek’s lifestyle. Not one to cook often, the kitchen feels more like a bar where you’d grab some coffee or drinks with friends. The living room on the other hand is large and comfy. Of course, as the brand’s former menswear designer and its current artistic director, a large wardrobe was subtly integrated into the hallway that connects living room and bedroom.
Connecting opposites and playing with contrasts is essential to Bellerose’s DNA. This is reflected in Bellerose clothing, but also in the physical stores. Each is unique, all designed by Derek and his father Patrick, the brand’s founder. With a stubborn vision and particular aesthetic codes, they continue to push forward in an ever-changing fashion landscape. Most recently, the Ghent flagship store was completely renovated to integrate an in-house repair atelier and coffee bar while also offering ingenious architecture and a comfortable, make-yourself-at-home ambiance.
Elements or experiments that take place in stores first can often be found in Derek’s apartment soon after. “I love working with contrasts. I think juxtaposing varnished rosewood and matte walls works extremely well. Plus, that brilliance also creates a slightly mysterious atmosphere, you can see the reflection of different lamps and lights in it.”
Lamps are one of Derek’s guilty pleasures, no matter if they’re made by renowned designers like the Hans Agne Jakobsson lamp in the living room, or if they’re obscure finds from one of Brussels’ antique stores. That same fondness of mixing and matching can be found throughout every room in the apartment. From the enormous, slightly futuristic framed Vincent Fournier picture in the kitchen, to the iconic modular “Camaleonda” sofa by Marion Bellini or the large, sombre canvas by Russian American painter Jules Olitski, nothing about this apartment is obvious or predictable. “I like the fact that very few things about this place are normal. I’ve been a big fan of furniture and art for years. I’ve gone through phases in which I dove into several styles and, in the end, what I love most is mixing all of them. Whether something is African, North American or Scandinavian, or whether it was created in the 1960s or 1990s, it doesn’t matter. I think there’s a magic in throwing everything together”.