Interview + Photography Cedric Bardawil
Dripping with lush plants, quirky ceramics and dreamy sherbet hues galore, Clouds 9000 is a design lover’s paradise. Founded by Veva van Sloun and husband Jan Wauters this Belgium-based multipurpose concept is a treasure trove of inspiration, hard to find objects and wanderlust. I sat down with Veva in Ghent to learn more about the journey.
How would you describe Clouds 9000 to someone who hasn’t yet visited?
Clouds 9000 is a place to relax in the vibrant Dampoort area in Ghent, a revitalized district just outside the city center. Clouds combines different projects, the ‘Clouds in my Coffee’ café, the I/OBJECT interior shop, a B&B located in a restored 19th century chapel of a former school and the Jungle Garden. What drives us is our love for interior design.
Where did the idea for the concept come?
It grew gradually. First the web shop, I/OBJECT, then we decided to buy the old school and open a café between the busy street and the quiet backyard. The Dampoort area is a revitalized area, there wasn’t a coffee shop when we moved here. Our café opened five years ago. In the meantime there was a great restaurant next door, Alberte, and as well an art bookshop, RIOT. More and more cool things are popping up in the area. Young creatives have offices, and we’re just a 15 minute walk from the city center.
After the café, we decided to add a B&B to the concept. A year and a half after opening we now have guests visiting from all over the world, Japan to Australia – a lot of creatives like the character of the B&B.
I/OBJECT started out as a web shop and turned into a physical shop about a year ago, we are about to develop the concept further. Since we do a lot of interior projects we often work by appointment, and have many requests for activities in the space as it has high ceilings and chapel windows.
With I/OBJECT we do weekend sales and exhibitions from time to time, when we’ve found special objects or when we would like to introduce an artist. This summer we had pieces by Peter Shire, a sculptor from LA. Last year we had an event in the Jungle Garden with BFGF designer Lilian Martinez, also from LA who was here. We had a DJ and homemade cocktails. Events like these work well here so we’ll continue doing them in addition to running the web shop.
Your approach to combining different creative forms is impressive!
Thanks. We also organized an exhibition for Emdal Studio half a year ago. She’s a talented Danish textile designer and we had these huge works made by her at the textile museum in Tilburg in the shop. One was made out of paper. I adore textiles and ceramics so these will be the fields that the exhibitions are about mostly. Also handmade wooden furniture by architect Phlippe Allaeys from Alph’design has been exhibited in the shop. My next muse is Ani Bedrossian, a young textile designer who lives in Brussels. I like her work very much and we are currently working on a new project.
How about the jungle garden? This must be lovely during the summer!
Yes, the garden was created by the garden architects Bart & Pieter. They are booming in Belgium and also do assignments in Greece, Menorca, all over actually. They created an oasis on top of old bricks. There used to be buildings where the garden is, we tore them down so the ground wasn’t fertile at all.
They chose the right plants: bamboo, ginkgo trees, fatsia japonica, eucalyptus and many others to create an incredible space in three days. It was amazing to see the before and after.
I can imagine! And the cafe has a great atmosphere; do you have a lot of regulars?
We do have a lot of regular guests although we are not in the city center, people travel to visit us. Sometimes from Antwerp, Amsterdam, at times we have a really international clientele, other days it’s mostly locals. A huge part of the atmosphere in the café is because of the great barista crew we have. They all get along well with each other and the customers. Some people come on a certain day to be served by a certain barista!
What are your sources of inspiration?
I get inspired by almost everything. My problem at times is that I have too many ideas. I stumbled upon a phrase in a book I am reading at the moment ‘saying goodbye to an idea’ and maybe that’s what I should do more often. When I travel, go to a museum, do groceries: I get inspired with ideas. For example an African woman is walking in front of me and suddenly I see colors and patterns I like to use in a tile wall. Crazy mind I have.