MIX Brussels.
Photo: Serge Brison, courtesy of Lionel Jadot

A 1960s Brussels Landmark Is Transformed into a Spectacular Hospitality Destination

Belgian architect Lionel Jadot unveils Mix, a massive hotel, restaurant, and fitness complex perfect for design connoisseurs

Exterior view of La Royale Belge, an iconic 1960s listed Functionalist building designed by architects René Stapels and Pierre Dufau, reimagined by designer Lionel Jadot into MIX Brussels. Photo: Mireille Roobaert, Courtesy of Lionel Jadot

“I used to drive past this building every Friday on the way to my grandmother’s house,” says Lionel Jadot of the Royale Belge, a Functionalist landmark on the smartest outskirts of Brussels, Belgium. “The metallic bronze color of its windows, and its shape in a huge cross—it’s a real landmark in this city. But for me it’s full of nostalgia, too.”

Now Jadot, well-known in his native Belgium as an interior designer at the edgier end of the spectrum, has reimagined the building he remembers so well from his childhood. First completed by the architects Rene Stapels and Pierre Dufau in 1969 as the headquarters of the Royal Belge insurance company, at a time when corporations defined their status with no-expenses-spared construction, the listed building has now been turned into Mix, a 27,000-square-foot hotel with three on-site restaurants, co-working space, and gym.

Photo: Mireille Roobaert, Courtesy of Lionel Jadot

“They gave us 25,000 square meters to accommodate it all,” says Jadot, who was charged with the entire interior refit. Additional architectural interventions include a sensational sweeping staircase by London architects Caruso St John that joins the ground, first, and second floors. “It would be a great place for a party,” agrees Jadot, swishing down its extraordinarily elegant shallow stairs.

Jadot’s solution to furnishing these heroic spaces—a modular structure of concrete, bronze, glass, and marble—was to invite 52 young Belgian artisans to create new work. As a result, Mix’s 180 hotel rooms, some with stunning views over the lake or the gardens that make up the surrounding park (also listed), are filled with exceptional details, like the Jadot-designed knobs that are hand-cast in bronze by Woit Foundry with the cruciform plan of the building. Delicate lights are by Roxane Lahidji, the French designer who developed a unique material using salt harvested in the Rhône delta.

A MIX Brussels suite outfitted with Lionel Jadot-designed desk chair, table lamp by Pascale Risbourg x Atelier Haute Cuisine, Hanging salt bulb by Roxane Lahidji, Tommy Lhomme rug, and printed curtains by Krjst Studio x Home Sails. Photo: Mireille Roobaert, Courtesy of Lionel Jadot

Knobs by Lionel Jadot x Woit Foundry feature a raised outline of the building's form. Photo: Mireille Roobaert, Courtesy of Lionel Jadot

From the lobby to the restaurants and the gym, are objects and furniture that have been designed and made within a 30-mile radius. The notable exception is a series of sturdy wooden tables in a restaurant by the Romanian-born, Portuguese designer Mircea Anghel. “But Mircea is like a brother to me,” explains Jadot, who has also invested in Anghel’s new project near the fashionable seaside town of Comporta. “He had to have a presence here.”

“There is a person behind each piece of work”

Lionel Jadot

Other highlights include ceramic lampshades in the lobby café in the form of cucumbers and cabbages by Eléonore Joulin, and bas relief walls made in papier mâché by Papier Boulette that frame the destination’s meeting rooms. Textiles throughout are the work of Studio Krjst, and include floaty patchwork curtains that appear like translucent Mondrian paintings. Jadot himself made the stately concrete fireplace in the lobby containing a sculpture crafted from brilliantly colored crystal shards recovered from Belgium’s most storied manufacturer, Val Saint Lambert.

Fireplace and sculpture by Lionel Jadot and Arthur Vandergut tables in the lobby of Mix in Brussels. Photo: Mireille Roobaert, Courtesy of Lionel Jadot

Meeting room wall by Papier Boulette. Photo: Mireille Roobaert, Courtesy of Lionel Jadot

“There is a person behind each piece of work,” says Jadot who knows many of the designers personally. Twenty-four of them, including Studio Krjst, are based at Zaventum, in a former 19th-century paper factory near Brussels main airport, that Jadot took over in 2015. In 2018 it reopened as 32 artist-and-maker studios, effectively housing (and nurturing) the cream of Belgium’s young design talent.

If this sounds ambitious, Jadot was born into the business. He is the sixth generation of a Brussels furniture-making family where bespoke pieces in wood and upholstery were made for interior designers including Claire Bataille, Jacques Grange, and Axel Vervoordt. He started playing around in the atelier at the age of 7, and working in the company aged 19. It was sold six years ago, and his 79-year old father now works for him.

Photo: Mireille Roobaert, Courtesy of Lionel Jadot

Since Jadot set up his own studio in 2001, he has been known for an unbridled energy and a an anarchic style, often using abandoned objects to make new pieces. Half way between art and upcycling, a chandelier might be fashioned from a series of old tires. Ropes, chains and reclaimed wood are part of his repertoire.

The same vigor and ambition can be found in Mix. “Because everything is made to order, there is no wastage,” says Jadot, pinpointing a simple, pale primrose-colored chair designed to be CnC’d with no leftovers from single sheets by studio touche-touche. “And if it needs to be replaced, well that’s easy too.” With no middle man, designers have also received very decent royalties for their work.

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With a new design language developed in response to the building’s original strong architecture and luscious materiality, including corridors, floors, and walls lined in stretches of perfectly matching barely-pink marble, Jadot’s intervention are utterly contemporary but sensitive too. Visitors might even want to order something to take back home for the ultimate travel souvenir.

Cover: MIX Brussels.
Photo: Serge Brison, courtesy of Lionel Jadot


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