One of the biggest highlights of our trip was our visit to Axel Vervoordt's Kanaal at Wijnegem and the Castle of 's-Gravensezel, the 50 room castle near Antwerp that is now Axel and May Vervoordt's primary residence.
Our tour began at the Kanaal, a former distillery complex that the Vervoordts now use as their offices, warehouse, workshop and exposition rooms.
The original grain silos loom over the main brick building.
The unassuming industrial facade does not give any hint of the magic that is inside...
Art Historian Barbara Brodt lead us through the many exhibition rooms in the Kanaal, providing us with details about all of the artwork and insight into the Vervoordt design and lifestyle philosphy.
The first room we visited was this very raw industrial space.
In another vine covered brick building...
An empty white room was filled with an emotional work by Anish Kapoor.
To ensure that visitors to the Kanaal understood his passion for collecting many different kinds of objects, Mr. Vervoordt filled the shelves of an antique Italian apothecary with many of his collections.
A dramatic painting by Zero Group artist Kazuo Shiraga was a fantastic focal point in this mostly neutral colored room.
In the next room, Barbara Brodt showed us the detailed model of the Vervoordts' plans for the Kanaal. Work has already begun to transform the entire complex into the "City in the Country", "an authentic cultural and residential island amidst a wealth of art and nature".
This project is sure to be bold and exciting. We would expect nothing less from Axel Vervoordt!
It would have been very difficult for us to leave the beauty of the Kanaal, but we knew that we were about to have another life changing experience... a tour of Castle 's-Gravenwezel, the home of Axel and May Vervoordt!
So, what did I learn from my visit to Axel and May Vervoordt's Kanaal and Castle? Too much to write about here! However, one point was very clear...
Reality starts with a dream... The Vervoordts dream big and have created a world for their family that they generously share with all of us. Their passion is evident in every room that we visited. Their belief that the beauty of all objects lies in their natural state, has changed the world of design forever.
Thank you to May and Axel Vervoordt for the gift of this unforgettable day!
A special Thank You to Barbara Brodt for patiently answering all of our questions and generously sharing her knowledge.
To see images of the inside of Castle 's-Gravenwezel, please visit the website of Axel Vervoordt. There are also many stunning images of the Vervoordts' residences and their projects in the book "Axel Vervoordt: Timeless Interiors".
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