‘Victor’ Café at Fine Arts Centre in Brussels by Robbrecht and Daem | Yellowtrace

‘Victor’ Café at Fine Arts Centre in Brussels by Robbrecht and Daem | Yellowtrace

‘Victor’ Café at Fine Arts Centre in Brussels by Robbrecht and Daem | Yellowtrace

‘Victor’ Café at Fine Arts Centre in Brussels by Robbrecht and Daem | Yellowtrace

‘Victor’ Café at Fine Arts Centre in Brussels by Robbrecht and Daem | Yellowtrace

 

Located in the Bozar Arts Centre in Brussels, this renovated café/restaurant was named ‘Victor’, after the Belgian art-deco architect, Victor Horta, who designed the original building in 1928. The refurbishment was handled by the internationally acclaimed architectural practice Robbrecht and Daem. Just like Victor Horta, Robbrecht and Daem believe there is a close link between architecture and interior design, something clearly evident in the ‘Victor’ Bozar Café. With the building being a protected heritage monument, no major modifications were permitted. Robbrecht and Daem certainly didn’t see that as a restriction, as they often work in a historical context.

With ‘Victor’, Paul Robbrecht aimed to create a world in the modesty of a café: a sort of microcosm or universe. He wants to give people an experience there – artists performing, people in discussions, authors writing their books. To create this universe, the architects used circles: round chandeliers specially designed for Victor, and granite circles on the floor. These symbolise a sort of planetarium with sunsets and sunrises. At the same time, a café is also a place where people see each other and watch each other, which is why there are so many round mirrors providing reflection.

 

‘Victor’ Café at Fine Arts Centre in Brussels by Robbrecht and Daem | Yellowtrace

‘Victor’ Café at Fine Arts Centre in Brussels by Robbrecht and Daem | Yellowtrace

‘Victor’ Café at Fine Arts Centre in Brussels by Robbrecht and Daem | Yellowtrace

‘Victor’ Café at Fine Arts Centre in Brussels by Robbrecht and Daem | Yellowtrace

‘Victor’ Café at Fine Arts Centre in Brussels by Robbrecht and Daem | Yellowtrace

 

The choice of materials and interior elements are also an ode to the building’s historical context. These are not copies of Horta’s ideas, but rather a reminder of him. The dark-green granite and the dark-green leather sofas are, for example, a tribute to the green linoleums and the granite that Horta himself had already integrated. The tables are also real works of art: their tops feature musical instruments set in brass.

The real eye-catchers in the Victor café are three magnificent curtains fashioned by Valérie Mannaerts. Robbrecht and Daem often work with artists because they believe there should be a dialogue between art and architecture, and that art must create a picture within the architectonic whole. So they invited Mannaerts to think about how to divide the café into different areas. The result is a work of art that forms a contrast with the café as a whole – a counter-world. The hand-embroidered pieces in cotton and wool are entitled ‘Pleasure in Making (Curtain for Bozar)’ and are used to divide up the space into smaller areas for events or special occasions. Mannaerts ensured that each area has its own identity when the curtains are closed. She created a different design on each side of the curtain, such as a folding-screen pattern. The intention with this work is to give visitors the feeling that something mysterious is going on behind the curtains that you can’t see and are keen to find out about. Interpretative and a narrative, in the zone of the intimate.

 

 


[Photography © Frederik Vercruysse.]

 

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