Guest Contribution by An Michiels
RA is a new store and innovative platform in Antwerp, Belgium. It is situated in the Kloosterstraat - nested in between second hand furniture shops and galleries – and at a stone's throw from the renowned Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Art, which has delivered successful students in the last decades ranging from Dries Van Noten and Martin Margiela to today's Peter Pilotto. The RA concept store is the brainchild of two ex-students of the Royal Academy, Romain Brau and Anna Kushnerova. They are being supported by a multi-talented, multi-cultural and multi-generational team that will constantly set collaborations with guest contributers to inspire and promote, discover and bridge emerging multidisciplinary talent. RA wants to be an arena for displaying and producing a portfolio of products, site-specific projects, exhibitions, installations and performances to promote and enrich the creative and cultural discourse.
The store is an 800 sqm space, stretched over two floors and consists of a 300sqm fashion floor, an exhibition space, a book store, a music corner and a food corner. The space itself, a former art gallery, has been reconstructed and renovated with respect for its historical architectural value. The white loft like space act as a backdrop to showcase fashion from a great range of high end labels like Gareth Pugh and Giles on the ground floor and more affordable labels by Henrik Vibskov, b-store amongst others on the first floor. Great touches to the interior and exterior liven up the white cube, we especially love the thatched roof hut at the centre of the space designed by Mathieu Lehanneur and the roof garden by Ben Berckmoes. He managed to create a wonderful dreamlike landscape and liven up a dreary urban leftover space.
For RA, Boaz Cohen and Sayaka Yamamoto from design cooperative BCXSY created kaleidoscope cabinets, a modular jewellery display made of birch wood plywood with oak veneer, mirror panels and glass. The inspiration and idea behind the pieces is to exhibit jewelry pieces, often so small, in a more voluminous way by using reflections. Inside these cabinets you will find beautifully crafted jewellery pieces by Sayaka herself and the other international jewellery designers found at ra, including heaven tanudiredja and jordan askill.
Irene Alvarez has created a wall-mounted sculpture and woven carpet upstairs at RA, inspired by the art of the Inca. the brightly coloured and fringed carpet is a unique piece woven in Holland, featuring cartoons and mythical monsters of all shapes and sizes.
RA exists online as well. The www.RA13.be site is an online platform and will incorporate the monthly RA Tidings, a showcase of RA's happenings, released online and in print. RA Tidings invites contributions from writers, artists and other creatives.