The house where Victor Horta (1861–1947), one of the major founders of Art Nouveau, lived and worked until 1919 is the best place to see his mesmerizing interiors and furniture. Horta's genius lay in his ability to create a sense of opulence, light, and spaciousness where little light or space existed. Inspired by the direction of the turn-of-the-20th-century British Arts and Crafts movement, he amplified such designs into an entire architectural scheme. He shaped iron
and steel into fluid, organic curves; structural elements were revealed. The facade of his home and studio, built between 1898 and 1901 (with extensions a few years later), looks somewhat narrow, but once you reach the interior stairway you'll be struck by the impression of airiness. A glazed skylight filters light down the curling banisters, lamps hang like tendrils from the ceilings, and mirrored skylights evoke giant butterflies with multicolor wings of glass and steel. Like Frank Lloyd Wright after him, Horta had a hand in every aspect of his design, from the door hinges to the wall treatments. You can reach the house by tram 91 or 92, getting off at the Ma Campagne stop. Note that you're not allowed to take photos. There's very little information in English, but you can buy books, postcards, and posters in the well-equipped shop. For more examples of how Horta and his colleagues transformed the face of Brussels in little more than 10 years, ride down avenue Louise to Vleurgat and walk along rue Vilain XIIII to the area surrounding the ponds of Ixelles.