Like a lot of good finds these days, I discovered Atelier Solarshop on Instagram via SF-based photographer Leslie Williamson. She first visited the Antwerp shop three years ago after photographing architect Renaat Braem’s house in Belgium for her book Modern Originals, and when she struck up a conversation with co-owner Pií«tro Celestina (his partner is clothing designer Jan-Jan Van Essche–the couple met as students at Antwerp Fashion Academy), she immediately knew that, as she puts it, “they were my sort of people.” Thirty minutes later, over a cup of tea (it’s that sort of place), she spotted a copy of her first book, Handcrafted Modern, on a table. When she told Pií«tro it was her book, he told her that they always kept their copy out to inspire their clients. The three have been great friends ever since.
I asked Pií«tro how it all came to be and here’s what he had to say: “When we first started renting the space in 2008 as an atelier for the Jan-Jan Van Essche brand, we didn’t have any furniture, so we promised ourselves that we would only be satisfied with stuff we really loved but had no budget to spend. So naturally we ended up hunting and collecting pieces we liked. Before we knew it, we had far too many beautiful things and decided to start sharing our treasures. It all went unplanned and in a very organic and intuitive way.” For more, visit their store at Atelier Solarshop.
Above: Pií«tro and Jan-Jan in front of their store. The space was formerly a solar-panel shop. Pií«tro explains, “We fell in love with the space and its name. We stuck the word Atelier in front and started experimenting with the shop.”
Above: A rustic wooden clothes rack featuring Jan-Jan Van Essche’s line. The store also features clothing from other European designers such as Katrien Van Hecke, Hui-Hui, and Daniel Andresen, and is always evolving.
Above: Teakwood candleholders on display with other vintage finds. The pieces are sourced from a wide range of places, including markets, collectors, secret spots, and even from the street. As Pií«tro notes, “You would be surprised how much you can find when you really start looking.”
Above: Mirrors repurposed with macrame hangers. As for their vintage pursuits, Pií«tro and Jan-Jan confess to being “addicted, so we’re constantly searching. It’s a lot of work but gives us a lot of satisfaction as well.”
Above: A jacket hangs on a wooden door used as a display prop. Pií«tro explains, “We’ve been labeled many things, such as pop-up store, concept store, curated shop, but it’s actually just a space in constant motion.”
Above: On the floor is an Armenian handwoven rug with a cushion from the designer At-Swim-Two-Birds.
Above: The desk/shelving is a vintage Poul Cadovius Royal System.
Above: Brass mixed with ceramics by Berlin-based designer Katharina Trudzinski.
Above: Scarves hang from a wood and brass rack. The leather bag is by Christopher Dellstrand.
Above: Pií«tro tells us, “We’ve been working with different clothing designers and craftsmen over the past few years, and the shop constantly evolves. Because of Atelier Solarshop’s space and energy, we have attracted many other creatives on the same frequency. Leslie Williamson is a perfect example.” He later adds, “It feels like family; the more the merrier.”
If you are headed to Belgium and looking for places to stay, Boulevard Leopold is a favorite. For more Belgian resources, check out our Travel Guide with our list of our recommended shops and restaurants.