JAPANESE GARDENS - After graduating as a landscape designer, Ilse left for Japan in 1989. With the support of the Honda – Belgium Foundation and the Canon Foundation, she became the apprentice of Suzuki Shigeichi, a landscape architect near the city of Nagaoka.
To understand the spirit of Japanese gardens, she had to study many aspects of Japanese culture, tea ceremony, the art of wearing kimono, calligraphy, and ikebana.
IKEBANA - Her first teacher was Kobayashi Miwako, from which she learned the beauty and the basics of Sogestu ikebana. After moving to Yokohama in 1995, she continued studying with her current teacher, Crivelli Joko.
After obtaining her teaching certificate in 1997, she taught ikebana to Japanese and foreigners. During her stay in Yokohama, she did several ikebana arrangements and installations at the Belgian embassy in Tokyo.
SPREADING IKEBANA - She was chairperson of the Sogetsu Azalea Studygroup from 2013 until 2019, and now she is vice-chairperson. Being part of the organization of the visit of Iemoto Akane Teshigahara of the Sogetsu school to the Floralies in Genth in 2016 was a milestone experience for her.
And the year after, she received the 90th Anniversary Commemorative Overseas Akane Teshigahara Award.
TEACHING IKEBANA - In 2000 she returned to Belgium and started her ikebana atelier. Since then, she is working hard to increase the awareness for ikebana. She is doing that by teaching online and in-person, giving workshops abroad and writing books. She is also very active on social media, where she maintains a popular Facebook and Instagram account with many 1000s of followers. Every week she sends a newsletter in English, Japanese, and Dutch.
KEEP ON LEARNING - Ilse continues learning with her Japanese teacher, Joko Crivelli, and now holds the teaching degree 1st-grade Yonin-Somu.
Two more grades to go before reaching the top. She is excited about all the opportunities coming her way to create and teach ikebana, the two biggest passions in her creative life.
JAPAN - After graduating from university with a Master in Metallurgical Engineering, Ben left for Japan, where he started an Academic Career. He made it up to a professor position at a Japanese University. Still living in Japan, he switched to business as a representative for the Belgian Flanders Government, helping Japanese companies to get established in Flanders.
After his return to Belgium in 2000, he was co-founder of the software company, WHISE of which he was co-CEO for 20 years.
STARTING A CREATIVE CAREER - The urge to start a creative career grew over the years. He photographed numerous ikebana demonstrations and exhibitions. In 2021 Ben joined Ilse full-time in her ikebana business.
As a photographer and marketeer, he now combines his passion for teaching, photography, and social media. Ilse & Ben made their home multi-functional and the living room doubles now a photography studio.
BEHIND THE SCENES - You can find his photography and video work on Ilse's social media and video platform.
On his Instagram account, he gives a behind-the-scenes view of the ikebana life he has together with Ilse.