written by:
photos by:
April 16, 2013
Originally published in Global Style
as
Lofty Heights
Globetrotting Belgian architect Julien De Smedt carves out a space to call his own in a converted industrial loft building in Brussels.
Julien De Smedt in the kitchen of his Belgium apartment.

Kitchen ConfidentialFour years into his tenure at a former metal factory, revamped a decade ago 
by the architects BOB 361, architect Julien De Smedt is enjoying the pleasures of home. “I spend so much time in hotels and restaurants,” he says, “so I really like to cook when I’m here.” The founder and principal of JDS Architects splits his time between Brussels, Copenhagen, and New York, but finds himself more and more in his Belgian home.

In the open kitchen, De Smedt installed stainless steel rolling carts from Ikea to stand in as the kitchen island. “The carts are the kind of thing you find around the Bowery in New York at restaurant suppliers,” he says, “which I didn’t know at the time, or I would have had some shipped over.” De Smedt cribbed the idea from a friend in New York who had something similar in his kitchen. The polypropylene curtains are what the Swedish army uses for winter camouflage.

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Modern living room with shelves and multicolored chairs.

The living room includes a “plain old” beanbag, an Other One armchair by Leif Jørgensen for Hay, with a pillow by Candice Enderlé for Cojinudo, and two Tropicalia lounges by Patricia Urquiola for Moroso.

Me, My Shelves, and IThe living room is characterized by a span of shelving on the main wall—a mix of “old shelves collected from my family after my mom and grandfather passed away,” he says. “They inspired my modular shelving system for Muuto, which is mixed in.” A dotted Pinocchio rug by the Danish company Hay really ties the room together.

That’s EntertainmentDe Smedt often hosts smaller parties in the living room but plans at least one epic gathering per year: “Early in the summer, the apartment complex has a massive party, where everyone opens their lofts and invites friends; about 1,000 people come. I’ve even had a party with a huge pool—13 feet in diameter—on my terrace.”

 

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Julien De Smedt standing at concrete island.

Concrete Thinking“My apartment in Brussels is the most architect-like, with its concrete feel,” De Smedt says of his rather brutalist interior. “It puzzles me why more people aren’t into concrete—it’s the most practical material. It’s warm, if you do it right. And you can clean it in about two seconds.”

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Modern open space dining room.

Dinner on Wheels“As you can see in my own architecture, the indoors and outdoors are very connected. So, when I’m home, if the weather is good, I’ll open all the windows so it’s one continuous space.” The dining table, custom made by De Smedt’s friend Gilles van der Brempt, is on wheels so it can be moved out to the terrace. Ikea Urban chairs and Hee Welling’s dining chairs for Hay share the room with two bright-green vintage deck chairs, purchased at Brocéliande in Brussels.

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Modern Belgian loft space.

Indoor Sunbathing“In the morning, the eastern light comes into the small terrace by the kitchen,” De Smedt says. “If I have work to do at home, which I do a lot, I’ll sit at the dining table and just look out. And in the summer, I’m out on the terrace. On clear nights, I’ll head upstairs. There’s a skylight and you can see the stars. Even in the city, you totally can! The skylight really changes the condition of the interior. If you light that gap in the evening from the outside, it’s as if there is daylight.”

The Inconstant Gardener“I have a lot of cacti, which is probably because I don’t have a green thumb,” admits De Smedt of his sculptural flora. Inspired perhaps by his neighbors’ greenhouse just across from his patio, the architect’s next project for the apartment involves turning the terrace into something of an oasis—as long as the plants are hardy. “I have an idea to grow some ivy.”

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5 / 5
Julien De Smedt in the kitchen of his Belgium apartment.

Kitchen ConfidentialFour years into his tenure at a former metal factory, revamped a decade ago 
by the architects BOB 361, architect Julien De Smedt is enjoying the pleasures of home. “I spend so much time in hotels and restaurants,” he says, “so I really like to cook when I’m here.” The founder and principal of JDS Architects splits his time between Brussels, Copenhagen, and New York, but finds himself more and more in his Belgian home.

In the open kitchen, De Smedt installed stainless steel rolling carts from Ikea to stand in as the kitchen island. “The carts are the kind of thing you find around the Bowery in New York at restaurant suppliers,” he says, “which I didn’t know at the time, or I would have had some shipped over.” De Smedt cribbed the idea from a friend in New York who had something similar in his kitchen. The polypropylene curtains are what the Swedish army uses for winter camouflage.

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