Hotel Flora has its foundations in the late Middle Ages. The oldest traces date back to 1445, but the individual houses which make up the building are considered to be older. Wealthy merchants and prominent families inhabited them. For example, the Antwerp printing family Moretus also called it home.
Until the reign of the French (1794-1815), houses had no house numbers but were named after objects and concepts from everyday life. Hotel Flora, on the other hand, bore the name: 'King of Spain', derived from King Philip II. It was highly unusual given that names of monarchs were very rarely used for such purposes.
Hotel Flora is an exceptional jewel from the past, featuring an original Rococo gatehouse, a Chinese pagoda and authentic ornaments. To create a connection with the here and now, an evanescent, dynamic and playful, yet elegant atmosphere was chosen. A synergy that can be found in the world of Gert Voorjans, 'breaking all the rules', but always refined.
Voorjans not only introduced colour but also his own philosophy to Hotel Flora. He chose to avoid any presence of meaningless paintings and frames, and for that reason he involved the contemporary painter Nils Verkaeren. Voorjans challenged Verkaeren to illustrate his artistic presence directly on the walls using the palette which is so typical of Voorjans. For two weeks Verkaeren locked himself up in Hotel Flora and the rest is history. But for the guests of Hotel Flora is has become a unique reality.
His interior design studio is located on the Leopoldplaats in Antwerp. However, Gert Voorjans designs interiors for the world's most prominent families and leaders in high-end locations. His creations are inspired and influenced by a variety of cultures and periods of time. Thus he achieves his characteristic, deeply layered environments suffused with colour, authenticity and energy.
In 2018, in collaboration with Jim Thompson, he created a collection consisting of luxurious fabrics and home furnishings. In 2020 AD France mentioned him as one of 'The 100 decorators of the world'.
The studio is not the ideal workplace for the contemporary painter Nils Verkaeren. Since graduating from the Antwerp Academy in 2016, he has undertaken major painting projects in remote areas all over the world. Preferably as rural and untouched as possible so that the act of painting becomes almost impossible.
This project for Hotel Flora is unique in Verkaeren's oeuvre and challenged him to reinvent himself as a painter.
Verkaeren is represented by Kusseneers Gallery Brussels. His works are included in various national and international public and private collections, including the 'Vanhaerents art collection'.