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Talking Contemporary and Classic Style with Belgium’s Ambassador

Belgian ambassador to Indonesia Patrick Herman resides in his official residence in Menteng, Central Jakarta, with his wife, Siobhan, an English oil-painting artist, and their two young children. Diplomatic postings have given the couple an immense and well-curated collection of sculptures, paintings, furniture and furnishings that adorn the house. Here we chat with the couple over a cup of tea about Belgium design at their residence.

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What is popular in Belgium design?

“Contemporary is the strength for [Belgian] art and design at the moment. Contemporary-style lighting is also famous,” says Herman, as his
wife explained in depth how Belgium’s artists are now finding their way back to painting. The couple recommends the antwerp-based painter luc Tuyman, who is known as the key figure in making painting fashionable again in the early 1990s, and Michaël Borremans who is famous amongst indonesian collectors for his unnerving and otherworldly oil paintings.

IMG_5244What do you recommend for a design trip in Belgium?

“We always think antwerp and gent,but Brussels has a lot too,” says the couple. Siobhan Herman said that there are at least three places an
aficionado should visit. First is the Sablon area, a neighbourhood in the historic upper town of Brussels that occasionally holds a design week, where people can enjoy the antique market along with wine until the late evening. Second is the Xavier Hufkens gallery in antwerp that showcases local and international artists, and third is Zeno X, an antwerp-based gallery that is popularly known for showing Belgium’s best artists. The ambassador also suggested a visit to the world’s oldest and most prestigious art fair, the Brussels art Fair (BRaFa), which showcases famous fine art, antiques, modern and contemporary art and design.

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What do Belgian houses have that local houses might not? And how does Belgium influence the design world?

Patrick Herman says that the climate affects homes in Belgium the most. “Houses tend to be warm with fireplaces, and stylish. it is usually
rooted in the 16th and 17th century and is epitomized by famous antique dealer axel Vervoordt’s magnificent pavilion.” The ambassador said that firms in the westernmost corner of Belgium make products that enhance warmth and hospitable feelings. The region is home to luxurious interior upholstery and fabric manufacturers as well as exquisite rugs and carpets. “iconic fashion designers also inspired modern Beglian interior designers. Flamant Home interiors in Brussels exemplifies this trend,” he says.

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Describe your personal style.

“i would go for nomadic, casual, and bookish,” the ambassador says. Herman’s diplomatic trips have inspired him to collect african, asian and european artwork, particularly simple pieces, such as those in plain wood, metal or fabrics with few patterns. The ambassador and his family also admires and appreciates books as art pieces. Their collection decorates in every room of the house. For example, Siobhan Herman’s coffee-table art books are stacked on a marble-topped table in their living room.

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