Belgian architect Stef Claes breathes a sense of life and longevity into his most recent project, the redesign of an inner-city Brussels apartment.
Swiss architect Stef Claes has made his mark on the Belgian design scene through an approach to residential design the reflects a deep appreciation for the mid-century modern era. We’ve been privy to two of Stef’s projects in Belgium – Seaside Retreat and House in the Fields – that feel at home in their respective landscape through the application of natural, tactile materials. This time in the country’s capital city of Brussels Stef has reworked a pied-a-terre, now brimming with personality and warmth, through an eclectic mix of vintage and iconic design pieces.
The apartment is located in downtown Brussels, inside a relatively new housing development in a former military base. Stef Claes admits that as the home isn’t that old and many elements didn’t need replacing, both himself and the client faced a ‘keep or toss’ dilemma regularly. “When we first visited the apartment, we discussed on the existing wooden floor, which was in great condition,” Stef says. “While I wouldn’t necessarily choose this floor and colour, in the end, the flooring informed the colour palette for the rest of the home.”
Inspired by the surrounding Brussels architecture, Stef decided to go bold in the living space and kitchen, opting for a statement black fireplace and black steel-frame doors and shutters. In addition, the living room features a collection of renowned pieces by Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret and Gio Ponti, injecting strong design history into the modern home.
When selecting furniture for his projects, Stef says he aims to begin the process as soon as possible, so the furniture becomes one with the design. “It’s important that the furniture doesn’t become an afterthought,” Stef says. “By starting early, this creates a mature interior scheme right from the start that has been delicately selected composed.”
“We owe the planet a conscious approach about the use and reuse of materials – if we can restore a noble and beautiful material we will always try to do so.”
– Architect Stef Claes
A wall of bronze cabinetry evokes a sense of glamour in the monochrome kitchen.
The kitchen features a framed ceramic plate by Pablo Picasso.
In the kitchen, an eyecatching wall of bronze full-height cabinetry is what Stef playfully dubs as a ‘reminder of the era of the renovation’. “I wouldn’t consider myself a trend follower; while this material might be considered of a current fashion, I believe nicely applied materials of their time can withstand a long life,” Stef says.
Through an intuitive and confident design approach, Stef Claes has brought a sense of the Belgian countryside into the city of Brussels for an ever-appreciative owner. “Still, the client will often text me just to share how much they love the atmosphere and ambience of their city home,” Stef adds.
Muted artwork by Shaun Ginsberg in the master bedroom.