The creative industries are a source of employment and a key economic driver that contributes to the cultural wealth of the country. Our conversation with Tania Brugnoni, Director of the 1535˚ Creative Hub, the leading creative hub in Luxembourg, is an opportunity for us to present a more detailed picture of this economic sector.
Creative industries in Luxembourg
Cultural and creative industries, whose potential has long been underestimated, are today considered an important sector of the Luxembourg economy in their own right, especially in terms of their contribution to employment and economic growth in the country. They play an important part in fostering an innovative mindset, recognised as a key factor in the ongoing health and growth of the national economy. Innovation stimulates productivity and keeps the economy competitive. The fields of architecture, literature, film, music, audiovisual content, video games, visual arts and design are all part of this industry.
In 2020, Luxembourg had 2,419 companies working in the sector, employing 14,626 people. Sixty percent of Luxembourg's creative companies operate in the areas of architecture, film and audiovisual content, marketing and communication.
Since they are mostly sole proprietorships or SMEs, the majority of these companies have a small number of employees or none at all. Nearly 91% employ between 1 and 10 people. Those working in the sector are often independent contractors and self-employed creative professionals.
The 1535˚ Creative Hub
The 1535˚ Creative Hub is a mainstay of the Luxembourg creative industry. Launched in 2011 on the initiative of Differdange municipal council, Luxembourg's top creative hub is aimed at entrepreneurs in this economic sector.
This unique venture is open to innovative crafts and trades; it houses freelancers and small and medium-sized enterprises in the creative sector. More than 70 companies from the sector's 12 segments are based at the site, which is designed to stimulate creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.
The 1535˚ encourages interaction and dialogue between creators from different disciplines. The main aim is to bring together several different dynamics in a community that encourages sharing of expertise and knowledge. The hub gives creative professionals and companies the opportunity to develop a network and link up with other economic players in the country.
It also provides a unique, authentic environment for the creative economy sector, offering rental workspaces, multi-purpose areas for meetings or workshops, and collective meeting spaces. The 1535˚ is a sustainable concept with moderately priced workspaces over a vast area of 16,000m2. The rental spaces are housed in three industrial buildings: the Schräinerei (building A), the Zilleschapp (building B) and the Kesselbetrib (building C). It is worth pointing out that the 1535˚ Creative Hub is housed on part of the ArcelorMittal site that is still in operation. The site is therefore a fine example of reconversion of the region's industrial heritage to provide a workplace for the country's creative talent.
1535° degrees Celsius is the melting temperature of iron. The name of the site is therefore a nod to the industrial heritage of Differdange.
Three questions for Tania Brugnoni, Director of the 1535˚ Creative Hub
1. What role does Luxembourg play in the wider landscape of creative industries? And how does the 1535˚ Creative Hub contribute to its visibility and profile in the Greater Region and in Europe?
Over the past few years, Luxembourg has carved out a reputation as a major player in this area and it is now in direct competition with other countries. In terms of the quality of services available in Luxembourg, we can unashamedly position ourselves at the forefront of the field, even at European level. All our creative professionals have studied abroad and come back to Luxembourg with professional experience, which offers real added value for the country.
What sets the creative sector apart from other economic sectors is its direct impact on the local area and the other companies based there. Nearly all the work is done at regional or local level, which is an asset for the national economy.
When it comes to the 1535˚, we play an important role at European level and we are the leader in the Greater Region. We obviously enjoy the same benefits as other economic sectors in Luxembourg, namely short distances because Luxembourg is a small country, but the 1535˚ also has a very tight and efficient organisational structure: we have a selection committee and selection criteria and we make sure that each segment is represented. We also have quality infrastructures that create an inspiring setting for entrepreneurs. With our large size and surface area, we therefore contribute to the visibility of the creative industries in Luxembourg and beyond its borders.
2. You were involved in the creation of the hub from the outset. What part of this project makes you most proud?
The 1535˚ was a project that was difficult to pull off, but by giving creative professionals access to workspaces in which they can practise their trade and live out their passion, we have offered all these people a professional home from home that they were looking for but had not previously been able to find. Seeing that they are now in a position to earn a living while giving free rein to their creativity makes me very happy. And being able to support their experience in a sustainable way and see the impact of our work on society makes me want to keep going.
3. What are your future plans for the creative centre in terms of development, innovation and enlargement?
Over the next few years, we want to open up to the public more and to become a centre of expertise where anyone can come and learn more about the sector. Education and public awareness are important aspects that must not be neglected, as it is only through education that we will be able to encourage a greater understanding of our sector and our expertise. It will require a long-term effort but this is what we want to do in future.
We are of course also considering other possibilities, such as adding another building or establishing a site in the centre of Differdange. But our most important aim is to position ourselves as a centre of expertise and to open up to the public more by offering a variety of different workshops.
Three success stories
Neopixl, founded in 2011, is a digital agency that mainly develops mobile and web apps for companies. It began as a start-up on the 1535˚ site with a team of 5 or 6 people, and it now has more than 30 employees. Neopixl is the perfect example of a young company that has consolidated its position by pursuing sustainable growth, leading to real success. The agency now works with several clients in Europe and around the world, and in 2016 it joined the Smile group, a European leader in open source digital solutions. It is still based at the Creative Hub.
Julie Wagener is a young freelancer who started out as an illustrator but a few years ago also branched out into painting. She also works in printing and screen printing. She prefers working by hand but has started using digital technologies to meet the increasing demand, especially in the fields of publishing and print design. She has won several awards, including a gold award at the 2023 Luxembourg Design Awards in the Print Design category for the visuals she produced for the Kulturfabrik programmes in 2021.
Unison Studios is a collective of producers, composers, musicians, sound designers and sound engineers. Their work includes composing, producing, recording and mixing all types of music. They do not just help artists to create and finalise their projects; they also compose music for advertisements, videos, shorts and films, as well as audio for virtual reality and 3D applications. They organise regular live video sessions during which a variety of artists perform live and are filmed and recorded at the same time. The concept of a one-stop shop for modern professional musical production was launched in 2019 and has been hugely successful. With facilities including two recording studios, two control rooms and a production studio, Unison Studios has become the leading sound and music studio in Luxembourg.
Did you know?
Sonotron, based at the 1535˚, is the top plug and play rehearsal and recording space in its category in Luxembourg. It has 9 fully equipped rehearsal rooms that are open to the public, and its reputation now extends beyond Luxembourg's borders. Find out more at sonotron.lu.