words Elaine Knutt
Antwerp’s sex trade is not only legal, it’s interior designed. Developer Franky De Coninck commissioned leading Belgian designer Quinze & Milan to fit out Villa Tinto – the first purpose-built brothel in the city’s new “tolerance zone”.
Quinze & Milan’s design has created the reddest building in the red light district. The 51 suites for window prostitution have red lamps, furniture and ensuite bathrooms. Streetlights on the exterior cast a red glow on the street.
The design prioritised safety. After consulting with the sex workers, designer Arne Quinze gave the brothel a sophisticated alarm system, safes to store cash in and en suite bathrooms. It even has a police station on site.
The commission followed an article Quinze wrote in a Belgian magazine on taking the sex trade out of the shadows and giving it design presence. “It’s the biggest business in the world, it’s always seen as not so beautiful. But if you show the beautiful part of it, I think you can build an erotic style,” he says.
When property developer De Coninck read the article, he realised that Quinze – better known for designing the furniture for Rem Koolhaas’ Seattle Library and Brad Pitt’s LA mansion – could be the man to create the prototype designer brothel.
Quinze says that the project needn’t be considered exceptional. “For me, it’s a project like another. When you start a project, the most important thing is to know who your client is.”
De Coninck has now asked Quinze to collaborate on a brothel in Barcelona.