A continuous pursuit of beauty
Antwerp rejoices in flexibility, open-mindedness and an appetite for problem solving, resulting in a creative DNA that fuels innovation. The city is in continuous pursuit of beauty as it looks for solutions, reinvents and innovates. Join Antwerp’s vibrant community of creative thinkers and doers and their inspiring creations.
Through the ages, the River Scheldt has shaped Antwerp’s destiny, bringing both prosperity and challenges. As a restless but determined community, the city refuses to surrender during times of hardship. Driven by an insatiable hunger for progress and success, opportunities are seized with courage even in the face of unknown obstacles. Antwerp’s residents firmly believe that the reward is worth the journey, ensuring resilience and confidence at crucial moments.
Antwerp’s entrepreneurs are critical and strive for improvement. The city embraces a global perspective. It is creative, uniquely flamboyant and driven by a passion to do things better. This identity resonates with those who hold Antwerp close to their hearts – and will hopefully ignite your enthusiasm as well.
A vibrant creative community
Much of Antwerp’s character is due to its creative entrepreneurs and their interactions with innovative business minds. Antwerp’s appeal to creatives is undeniable, drawing talent from industries such as culture, photography, theater, art, production, film, music and galleries, fashion and design. This creative energy is embedded in the city’s DNA and helps create an ever-evolving ecosystem.
Antwerp’s creative scene extends beyond the readily visible. The city’s underground scene bubbles with untapped potential and innovation. Collaborations among creatives form the backbone of Antwerp’s creative network, economy, innovation and global reputation as a haven for creativity. An extensive network of creative hubs and incubators certainly contribute; Antwerp offers a multitude of places where makers and creative minds can find each other.
Architectural landmarks such as Zaha Hadid’s Port House and the MAS are part of the city’s unique identity and underscore the importance of culture and design here. Antwerp is deeply committed to promoting and showcasing its cultural heritage and artistic vision.
Creative minds drive innovation
Creative entrepreneurs contribute to innovation, helping to renew Antwerp’s more traditional business clusters. Interaction is essential. Through cross-industry collaborations with the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, the diamond industry, retail, fashion and the chemical industry, Antwerp has inspired groundbreaking ventures in reflection of the city’s creativity.
With more than one in ten companies here involved in creative activities, the city’s thriving creative economy serves to inspire and accelerate innovation in other industries.
Haven for creative expertise
In Antwerp, innovation is the key to the future. To be innovative, creative, open minds are essential. Antwerp’s University leads the way in design thinking, architecture and product development, crucial to innovative processes. Product design is a core activity in Antwerp and is made possible by the presence of a dynamic creative community.
At the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp – better known as The Academy – fashion, photography, graphic design, goldsmithing, costume design and fine arts are important disciplines. Many of its graduates linger in Antwerp, strengthening its reputation as a creative city.
Antwerp also offers attractive opportunities in theatre, culture and performing arts. The AP School of Arts is a cultural breeding ground. Many theatre collectives have chosen to settle in Antwerp. The Antwerp Opera, the ballet school, and De Singel are known for exceptional music and dance education programmes.
The city is both small and large enough to allow connections to form between these creatives. All this expertise also attracts people from other creative disciplines. Where to start? Examples include make-up, film, interior design, music, video games and immersive content.
business establishments are creative businesses
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Product design for business innovation
Product development in Antwerp has flourished for 50 years, building up a close-knit community of like-minded experts. Product developers assist companies with innovation efforts by conceiving, creating, and marketing new products and services.
Antwerp’s design agencies are known for their fresh and innovative approach to products and services. They challenge convention, explore new concepts and push boundaries. This mindset helps them to achieve unique and original solutions. They focus on what drives customers to choose a particular product or service above all, and this is also the guiding principle behind their development processes.
Many of these design agencies embrace an interdisciplinary approach in order to achieve holistic solutions. They combine graphic and product design or interior design with technology, allowing them to tackle diverse projects in unconventional ways.
Antwerp’s design agencies are active all over the world. Blackbirds do work for music brand Roland in Japan, Studio Dott added a new product to Honsenn’s existing product line in China, KAN has helped Coca-Cola Company in the US to incorporate smart templates in their design workflows and WeWantMore designed the interior of the first Belgian Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts hotel at Brussels Airport for Mövenpick Switzerland. International experience ensures global consumer insights.
“Real power will come when the creative sector and app driven industry come together. Together these play the crucial role contributing nog just to adding economic value, jobs, image and tourism benefits, but they are driving the evolutionary process of the economy, culture and society as a whole. There is power in their spin-offs and these have migrated into everything enhancing the value of all products and services. The current economy could not run without them”
© Modenatie and De Winkelhaak (copyright Toon Grobet)
Support for creative entrepreneurs in Antwerp
ANTWERP. POWERED BY CREATIVES. is a community of creative professionals linking creative businesses in Antwerp, a model in its kind. Based in De Winkelhaak, this platform believes in creative talent without boundaries and encourages crossovers in order to make this city a hotbed of creativity.
FLANDERS DC advises, inspires and unites designers, entrepreneurs and companies active in design and fashion in Flanders – hence in Antwerp. Located in the Modenatie, Flanders DC supports creative entrepreneurs in starting up, during growth and internationalisation, with a special focus on sustainability, technology, inclusion and creativity. Collaborations are strongly encouraged, both between design and fashion and with companies from other industries interested in innovation.
Talent with global appeal
Antwerp’s creative talents have found success on a global scale, with individuals and collaborations showcasing their skills and craftsmanship worldwide. A rich cultural scene, supported by the city’s ecosystem and international connections, has propelled its creatives to global recognition. Impressive talents have put Antwerp on the international creative map.
Let’s drop some names.
- Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui hails from the rowdy Borgerhout district and has achieved worldwide recognition. He managed to bring Antwerp designers like Jan-Jan Van Essche along with him and is a great example of Antwerp’s can do spirit.
- Another international talent is globally acclaimed actor Matthias Schoenaerts, who graduated from Royal Conservatoire in Antwerp. FC Bergman, a theatre company from Antwerp that performs from New York to Australia, won the 2023 Silver Lion at the 51st International Theatre Festival in Venice.
- Then there is famous painter Luc Tuymans, with an atelier also located in Borgerhout, whose works grace Antwerp galleries and international expositions such as the Venice Biennale. And Panamarenko, who is considered one of Belgium’s most important visual artists of the second half of the 20th century. And award-winning illustrator and visual artist Fatinha Ramos.
- As to fashion, the international success story of The Antwerp Six first began in 1976. In their wake came Martin Margiela, A.F. Vandevorst, Christian Wijnants, Haider Ackermann, Glenn Martens and Jan-Jan Van Essche. Young and eccentric Brandon Wen from the US gained a Master in Fashion at the Academy here and is now its director. Tom Eerebout also lives in Antwerp and is a stylist to international stars such as Lady Gaga.
- Vincent Van Duysen, an architect with offices in Antwerp, designs sleek buildings around the world, from New York to a residential tower in Saudi Arabia. Vincent has also worked closely with Kanye West for more than a decade.
- Conversely, art from all over the world can be admired in Antwerp art galleries. Tim Van Laere Gallery, Gallery Sofie Van de Velde, Gallery FIFTY ONE, Everyday Gallery and PLUS ONE Gallery all feature works by famous international artists.
- Beautiful international fashion stories are on exhibit at MoMu | Fashion Museum Antwerp. The Red Star Line Museum tells the engaging stories of emigrants from Antwerp to the States. There is the MAS | Museum aan de stroom to climb and to admire and the completely renovated Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, where the finest art from seven centuries is on display.
- Let’s not forget music. Antwerp lives and breathes music. The headquarters of Tomorrowland, the world’s largest dance festival, are located in Antwerp. Every summer, this festival welcomes 400,000 visitors from around the world. It has also received a Henry Van de Velde Award for exemplary use of design in all aspects of its organisaton.