The Hub, visiting a creative playground

The Hub is not a sales venue, but generates traffic to all its dealers (All images: Cafeïne)

The basis of successful entrepreneurship is assessing as precisely as possible what your target audience needs. In the case of Belgian The Hub, which currently already has branches in Ghent and Antwerp, the target audience consists mainly of (interior) architects and designers. We visited the Antwerp branch with one of its partners, Decoline, and discovered a meeting place that can rightly be called a creative playground.

According to the mission statement, The Hub aims to be a unique and inspiring meeting place where interior professionals can discover and experience high-quality innovative interior materials. Here you should be able to discover the latest products, but equally attend a lecture or workshop. The ultimate goal? To inspire as many interior architects as possible with the latest developments in the interior and design sector and offer them a space where they can go with clients to discuss plans and make choices around materialization.

A third Hub?

“The Hub is quite a young initiative,” says Camille Verstraete, CEO of The Hub. “The adventure started in 2018, initiated by Woodstoxx, and caught on immediately. Due to its success and high demand, a second meeting space at Nieuw Zuid in Antwerp also opened its doors in mid-2021. This second branch need not be the end point. Indeed, we are also thinking of implanting a third Hub in Brussels. Now that, after almost a year of renovation, the Ghent branch has officially reopened, we can look even more in the direction of that challenge.”

“The Hub relies on a concept that could not be clearer: we gathered a group of strong partners both in Ghent and Antwerp who are among the cream of the crop when it comes to interior finishing. They show their skills in our branches, where (interior) architects should be able to find inspiration at all times. Their challenge is always to exhibit their most innovative and high-quality materials. However, The Hub is much more than just an inspiration space: it is a crossroads where creatives from the sector organize events, meet like-minded people, hold project meetings and receive product advice from their partners.”

Over 30 partners

That The Hub’s concept appeals to manufacturers became very clear during our visit. Among other things, we saw an interior designer together with her principal presenting mood boards to a visiting couple composed from the various materials offered in the materials library. She had no shortage of materials, which can hardly be otherwise when more than 30 partners participate in your project.

“To explain it very concisely: partners are companies that go ‘all-in’ with us and ‘collabs’ play a more modest role,” Camille Verstraete continues. “However, they all have the same goal in mind: to inspire visitors. This is not a sales venue, we are not competing with retailers, but generating traffic to our dealers.”

Decoline project consultant Ward Frooninckx explains how his company became involved in The Hub. Decoline started as a collab partner, but decided to become a main partner in both Antwerp and Ghent from 1 January this year.

“The Hub appeared on our radar very early on. We aim at the premium segment of the market with our curtain rails and as such, this initiative fits us perfectly,” he comments. “We first tried the concept as a ‘collab’ partner and barely one year later we saw how this works really well. Here we also reach the (interior) architect who is active in the high-end segment, especially residential. These people prescribe and can turn to our dealer network for the actual elaboration of their projects.”

Unique in Europe in customization

“Most importantly, in The Hub we can maximally demonstrate how unique Decoline is within Europe when it comes to customization. We want to make it clear how we think 100 per cent along with a project and how interesting it is to be involved in the realization process from A to Z.”

In both Hubs, Decoline will demonstrate all its curtain systems and Blindspace, which we already introduced in a previous edition. In Antwerp, you certainly can’t ignore Decoline’s contribution, even at the entrance you immediately notice an almost 6-metre-high curtain.

“That curtain is controlled by electric rails,” Ward Frooninckx explains. “At the entrance, there is more than 80 metres length of fabric hanging and, in addition, you can also see us in another room, the Pink Restaurant designed and furnished by Maister. There we installed three electric roller blinds with Blindspace, where the colours are perfectly matched with the colours of the salmon-pink kitchen. This demonstrates how literally everything can match any RAL or NCS colour. Then again, in the central materials room, visitors are introduced to a rail with Touch Motion.”

So much for Antwerp, how did Decoline tackle it in Ghent?

“There too, it’s purely about customization, but we made one round entity, where everything fits together. The continuous organic inflections are special, they are literally all custom-made and it demonstrates what we can do. In Ghent, by the way, we also worked in over 15 metres of Blindspace at the bar and the Pink Room. Moreover, here we also show a new concept of folding curtain, the D random, which gives the product a more modern look, and a beautiful wooden Venetian blind, also lacquered in NCS colour.”

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