The space had been deliberately designed to resemble a museum, where Studio Job displayed their art and design collection.
The loft was located in the trendy, multicultural Zurenborg area near Dageraadplaats in the city centre. In recent times, the neighbourhood had seen an influx of creative people — including architects, designers and artists — who have given it a new lease on life and attracted restaurants, cafes and bars.
Stripped to its carcass, the space is minimalism incarnate: raw exposed concrete, cast resin floors, raw wooden elements. The design comes via what Smeets calls ‘ornamentation’: respecting the existing architecture (‘remember, an architectural space you only have on loan … even if you bought it … this building will outlive us’) and filling it, simply, with a curated collection of vintage furniture and art. ‘Comfort has nothing to do with luxury, explains Job, ‘for us comfort is the luxury of being surrounded by authentic sculptures, paintings, objects, and furniture.’
“Job Smeets’s Antwerp apartment is museum-like, uncompromising, rare and stupendous — and of course it echoes their work. Studio Job don’t care for trends, don’t care all that much for design, and insist their work isn’t art — incessantly awkward. Job’s design style? ‘No design involved.” We Heart Magazine, 2016
This urban loft — which was once a warehouse and then a school for the Orthodox Jewish community — was a huge 1100-square-metre space with high ceilings spread over two floors, plus a roof garden said to be one of the largest in the city.
The building, originally constructed in the 1950s, was totally remodelled in 2008, when it was divided into huge floors accessed by an industrial elevator and reduced to a concrete skeleton. Job Smeets wanted to retain the tough concrete look, but has have softened it, adding natural wood panelling on some walls and polished epoxy resin flooring in a neutral grey that resembles cement but has a much softer texture.
But what really humanises this property is the collection of museum-quality furniture and objects that are this studio’s passion. Studio Job were meticulous and enthusiastic collectors who waited until they find a perfectly preserved example of a piece without any kind of restoration.
In the vast space, contemporary artworks were mixed with pieces found in antique shops and flea markets, frequently from the early 20th-century, during the modern period. There were also significant, cutting-edge mid-century and contemporary designs, as well as items the studio has designed themselves.
Some pieces were specially commissioned and designed for the house, such as the banister by Maarten Baas and the stained-glass sliding doors the studio made themselves. The sliding doors separated the downstairs into two areas: private and office. No walls divided the kitchen and the two living areas; only the furniture marked their different uses.
The loft has since been completely renovated in 2017 into a different space known as ‘Studio Job Headquarters’.