The new decor of Belgium’s coworking scene

Finding a high-end coworking space in Brussels or Antwerp has never been easier, even for the most demanding clients. Belgium’s major cities today boast a varied range of possibilities that are well worth visiting. Different atmospheres and services meet the needs and expectations of clients with very diverse criteria in terms of prestige of the address, style, or simply efficiency. The lifestyle vibe and the luxury world of art galleries are also being integrated into these shared offices, so much so that some have become cultural destinations in their own right. An exciting experience for those taking out space and their clients in turn: small and medium-sized companies, most of them active in B2B, and influential start-ups, which succeed in consolidating their portfolio and their offer.

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VILLAS Decoration Coworking
© Jeroen Verrecht | Fosbury & sons

Silversquare: prestigious, central and creative for any business

In Brussels, the once residential Avenue Louise is now teeming with stores and offices. After reinventing itself, the district is drawing a whole new clientele. This is the case for the residential, commercial and office sectors. Not far from the main thoroughfares, the historic centre of the Belgian capital and the Bois de la Cambre, its location remains as chic and strategic as ever. These are the surroundings the Silversquare brand picked for its product, offering the best in workspace today. Here, SQ Louise and SQ Bailli are the group’s flagships. A pioneer in Belgium and in Europe since 2007.

Meeting and event rooms, parking spaces for cars and electric bikes, a private garden, a café, à la carte yoga classes and a plethora of places to relax and take a break are all included in the services offered by Silversquare. Its monthly rates are adapted to a variety of budgets. A package has been designed for every type of business: whether a day pass, a month pass or even an individual office all to yourself. The concept has definitely hit the right note, as more than 2,500 members have so far been won over by this tailor-made approach.

It currently operates eight sites. Their locations are key. SQ Central has just opened its doors in the heart of Brussels, at the Central Station. Others will be opening in the city by 2023, close to the Kanal – Centre Pompidou museum, as well as elsewhere: in Liège, just next to Antwerp-Central and soon in Louvain-la-Neuve.

A meeting of art, architecture and fashion

Working on the move and remote working are becoming great excuses to take an interest in and to be inspired by the latest trends in design and contemporary art. Creative coworking spaces in Brussels, such as those set up by Silversquare, even offer you the luxury of experiencing them first hand, when renting an office or looking for a space to organise your team meetings.

Founder and CEO of Silversquare, Axel Kuborn, explains why this approach is so successful. “Silversquare sets out to be different by creating spaces in total collaboration with renowned creative artists. We invite visual artists, designers and even musicians to totally design the interior architecture of our spaces. Lionel Jadot, Jean-Paul Lespagnard, Lous & The Yakuza… None of them are industrial designers. Their vision is limitless. And it can provide inspiration to the more traditional professions.” The major Brussels gallery Maniera and the architects in its catalogue, including Doorzon, Richard Venlet and Jo Taillieu, have been invited to fit out Silversquare Central with their atypical furniture.

The decision not to follow a copy and paste approach to the interior design and decoration of its spaces allows Silversquare to bring in and federate people who think outside the box, which clearly differentiates it in the shared office sector. The result? The ability to attract a whole new clientele, one that is more accustomed to investing in their own home than in a shared office. “Silversquare is now visible and has a strong recognition factor among a premium public, which has the means to carry out its projects, as well as a strong interest in creation and in keeping its finger on the pulse. Their profiles? Companies that are booming in the fields of architecture, intellectual property, artificial intelligence, digital services and even compatibility (Naïf, Wiplaw, Retviews, NodalView, Cherry Accounting).

Tailor-made services and distinguished guests

With their conferences on economic themes or their temporary exhibitions geared towards their community, the Belgian coworking players are not short of ideas. A frenzy that is driven by a fast-moving market.

What is the future of work after the pandemic? More than 30% of the square meters occupied in the urban environment, usually dedicated to conventional offices, will be transformed into flexible office space over the coming years. Day after day, the need for flexibility and transparency is increasingly being paired with an emphasis on the importance of standing out from the crowd thanks to truly unique places that are also growth accelerators.

“We were born out of the demands voiced by our clients (SMEs, scale-ups and freelancers), rather than out of a real estate opportunity,” points out Axel Kuborn. “Interaction within our community – between our users – remains paramount. We make sure that this interaction is active in our community, that it connects to others and that it generates new business opportunities, even additional turnover. Last but not least, it spawns innovative projects.”

VILLAS Decoration Coworking

Marthe Hoet | Silversquare

Fosbury & Sons: doing business surrounded by beautiful architecture

Boitsfort, by Fosbury & Sons, is a perfect example of a highly sophisticated flex office: a chic smart working solution.

In the south of the European capital, this historic gem of Belgian architecture is home to a coworking hub like no other. Both the exterior and interior of this tower seem to be straight out of an architecture and design magazine. The building is the work of the brutalist architect Constantin Brodzki. The remarkable and unmistakable identity of this nine-storey concrete monolith sets out to be inclusive. Jules Wabbes’ designs and lighting fixtures are very much at home in this seventies architectural icon. The result is a pleasant place to work and above all, simply stunning aesthetics. Thanks to this original and undoubtedly iconic setting, Fosbury & Sons has some solid arguments to collaborate from time to time with leading brands, such as the car manufacturer Audi, to organise product launches geared towards its audience of young, dynamic executives with multilingual profiles.

The Dutch group that built this project is also behind other coworking spaces in Brussels (Alfons) and Antwerp (Harmony). These have opted to put the focus respectively on the green aspect (by renovating a disused factory) and the cosy aspect (an apartment spirit with works by prominent artists such as Damien Hirst). The latter building was designed by one of the big names in modernism: Léon Stynen. Vintage furniture has been sparingly inserted with a real sense of style, carefully selected for their practicality and waw factor.

VILLAS Decoration Coworking

Jeroen Verrecht | Fosbury & sons

BuzzyNest: a user-friendly approach to networking

Local and ambitious, BuzzyNest will be hatching several of its “nests” in the coming months. A play on words, as its creator John John Goossens likes to say.

Its competitor? None less than the American WeWork, which is something of a star in this line of business, and which has just joined forces with Cushman & Wakefield too boot. The company is a giant in commercial real estate with a network that extends to Belgium. The difference? BuzzyNest prefers the periphery to the city centre. This spirit can also be found among other flex desk newcomers, such as FridayCowork which has a number of pleasant branches dotted all around the province of Antwerp. All of them have showrooms where young companies from the commercial and marketing sector can display their new products for their presentations to prescribers and influencers. One of them even has a roof terrace with a beautiful view of the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS).

VILLAS Decoration Coworking

Buzzynest

VILLAS Decoration Coworking

Friday Cowork

Digital and UX entrepreneurs, as well as creative communication agencies such as Trust Studio, are also regulars in the FridayCowork network. They opt for these coworking spaces in Antwerp citing their affordable prices (with rates starting from half a day) and their human-sized loft atmosphere, decorated with plants and bathed in natural daylight.

BuzzyNest, on the other hand, plays in the big league of high-end coworking, and relies above all on an atmosphere that is not only architecturally inspired and luxurious, but also sustainable, and on guaranteeing a flawless welcome for its clients. Its followers are Belgian names in business-to-business e-commerce, software development and the IT and data professions such as B2Boost, RGW and Artrix. “The look & feel and high quality of service that drives BuzzyNest make it a very attractive product for employees and managers of leading Belgian and international companies,” underscores John John Goossens. “The transparency of the contemporary design we favour and the recycled materials we use are in symbiosis with the close-to-nature environments where we are located, in La Hulpe, where we opened offices in 2017, as is the case for Boitsfort and Courtrai.”

There is no collection architecture or artistic carte blanche at BuzzyNest, but rather “accessible” art shows, thought up by the company’s foundation. Here, collective intelligence prevails. The companies grow with BuzzyNest, and now buy entire floors and turn to the brand to fit them out with their know-how. “Many large structures and multinationals in the fields of insurance, banking and telecommunications will soon be regionalising or decentralising their services, leading to a reduction in their workforce, and therefore the sizes of their offices. These are the kinds of demands that we are mainly catering for today.”

Nurturing a sense of cohesion and belonging, these places evoke the design concepts of many major furniture makers such as Vitra and its Club Office concept, for which the Italian designer Antonio Citterio has signed several products.

Subscribing to this private club-type office space therefore offers the possibility of social evolution and significant efficiency in developing entrepreneurship and productivity, while combining business with pleasure. A touch of sophistication in day-to-day life. But what does it actually cost to use these business centres and coworking centres? The basic prices for this type of benefit start at around 395 euros per month. A monthly membership with a flexible place in these open spaces, with company domiciliation, costs between 250 and 295 euros on average. Generally, a minimum of 30 euros per day is the going-rate for daily access to these spaces, increasing to almost 1,000 euros per month for a private office of your own.