Fof the steel sculpture of Fabian von Spreckelsen in the garden at the curve of Kaspar Hamacher’s Lounger chair inside the house, there is a compelling assortment of pieces to admire in the Belgian home of the French writer and designer Lise Coirier.
“For us, culture is not the icing on the cake, it is at the heart of everything,” explains Coirier. She and her Swedish-Italian husband, Gian Giuseppe Simeonebelieve that being surrounded by art has a fundamental impact on the quality of life.
It is a thread that weaves itself through their work. Both founded their own creative agencies and wrote several books on design. Coirier is also the publisher and editor of the acclaimed biennial The real life of art and design magazine, while Simeone, an art historian and archaeologist by training, is a consultant for the European Union on its cultural support programs.
This passion for art, design and photography manifests itself in their house on the outskirts of Brussels, in Tervuren, where the work of the 30 artists they represent in Spazio Nobilea gallery they own in the center of Brussels, is very exposed.
“It’s a way of life that we recommend to our collectors – it’s important to know what it’s like to live with art objects,” says Coirier.
Built in 1900, their home was originally designed in the tradition of Flemish Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque with a hint of Art Nouveau, as was the rage at the turn of the century.
It is also the house that Simeone’s parents bought when he was 18, and where the couple have now lived for 23 years with their daughters, Juliette and Eva.
When they move here, after the death of Simeone’s father, the couple face the dilemma of leaving their apartment in Ixelles, which now houses their art gallery, and the daunting prospect of fitting out a large family home. that exceeds their budget.
“I waited nearly 15 years to understand the spaces and have the means to invest in this huge house,” says Coirier, who wanted a substantial update while preserving period details. The couple also wanted to mix vintage design pieces and contemporary works with more exotic items and ethnographic artwork.
Their friend, interior designer and art historian Anne Derasseplayed an important role in designing furniture for rooms with high ceilings, while creating much-needed storage space.
An original mosaic floor and neoclassical stained glass windows from 1900 line the hallway. A porcelain stoneware sculpture by a Portuguese artist Bela Silva enhances the Swedish dresser with Jugendstil drawers.
The large living room with its high fireplace, high ceilings and fluted columns with neoclassical details comes into its own when the couple organize events – but it is in the kitchen, the dining room and the small library on the first floor that daily life unfolds.
A Carina Seth Andersson frosted glass vase sits on an oval dining table by Hans Wegner in the dining room. On the sideboard is a walnut tray of Kaspar Hamach which was made for the couple’s 20th anniversary and on which sits a small horse enamelled vintage by ceramist Lisa Larson.
Above the door is that of Piet Stockmans Wilde Strippenwhich seems to dance on the walls and plays on the typical decorative details of a 1900 house. On the fireplace, next to Amy Hilton’s pastel and marble fragment, is a stoneware pendant used as a bookend.
The living room, with wild silk curtains, is furnished with a large Hay sofa and on the fireplace, a vintage Mezza Chimera lamp by Vico Magistretti sits alongside sandstone and pottery from Vincent Van Duysen. “We love the fragility of ceramics and glass or the strength of wood to the touch and the patina it acquires over time,” says Coirier.
The kitchen has been renovated by a Belgian architect Sebastien Caporussoretaining the original Cubex cabinet fittings, a striking example of early American-style kitchens.
An oval marble table has been added. “We didn’t want a typical kitchen, we wanted to organize it in such a way that we could show certain rooms,” explains Coirier. A “sideboard” of glass made from Mestdagh workshop displays Bela Silva and prototypes of Sebastien Herkner for a “Glass is Tomorrow” exhibition.
The garden was landscaped by the architect Aldrik Heirman, who worked with Van Duysen and David Chipperfield. “We are on the edge of the Sonian Forest, so the garden really required a connoisseur’s eye,” explains Coirier. “It was important that it looked as natural as possible and in harmony with the house – as if it had always been there.”