Merging together Atrium, Bruxelles Invest & Export and Impulse, the newly launched hub.brussels intends (among quite a lot of other things) to pick up where Atrium left off: raising the bar in terms of retail and entrepreneurship in our beloved capital city. Never shying away from a challenge, their ballsy team rolled up their sleeves and went straight to Berlin to get in touch with the German alternative retail scene’s cream of the crop. They came back home with three Berliners to open up new pop-up stores in the Canal district. Taste.brussels brings a Berlin touch to the capital, refreshing the already vibrant Dansaert area with a breath of fresh Kreuzberg air. We turn the spotlight on these Berliners who fell for Brussels, namely creative platform Of/Berlin’s founders Catrin Saldo and Vesna Zaneta, Farrah Floyd’s designer Bojana Draca and Starstyling’s label owners Kai Seifried and Katja Schlegel.
BOJANA DRACA, CATRIN SALDO & VESNA ZANETA
Catrin and Vesna are the co-owners of Of/Berlin, a network of Berlin-based designers and manufactories selling product design items. Bojana is the designer for Farrah Floyd, a sustainable fashion label. We all know each other from Berlin, and now share a pop-store in Brussels. We’re really excited to see how this collaboration will work, as well as how Brussels locals will react to our products and concept. So far we can already tell that people here are much friendlier than Berliners, even if it’s not that hard! The city is also very diverse, more so than Berlin. And more importantly, it’s a laidback city, which we weren’t expecting. Indeed, our idea of Brussels was that of a busy, stressful city: the capital of Europe, with businessmen rushing through skyscrapers with their briefcases. But instead, it feels even more quiet and relaxed than Berlin’s crowded streets. The German capital attracts a lot of people because it feels free and open to everyone. Cities are always in progress, but Berlin has a particular history: the war, the separation of the city, the fall of the Wall, the riots… There’s always been so many things happening, which made it exciting to be a part of the city. Plus, it’s cheap so you don’t need tons of money to launch a project. Unfortunately, prices are rising and the creative scene is starting to move out… It’s a never-ending cycle. Who knows, maybe Brussels will become the new Berlin?Bojana, Catrin and Vesna’s pop-up store is located on Rue du Vieux Marché aux Grains 37 Oude Graanmarkt (1000). farrahfloyd.com
KAI SEIFRIED & KATJA SCHLEGEL
We’re a couple who accidentally slipped into the fashion world and launched a label called Starstyling about two decades ago. We used to work in the performing arts and never rented costumes; we made them ourselves. People kept asking us where we got them from, and eventually an agent gave us a showroom. One showroom after another, we ended up opening our very first little store in Berlin. Starstyling kept growing and today we even have clients in Japan and Korea. We’re about to open our pop-up store in Brussels now, and we’re very excited. Brussels and Berlin have quite a few things in common. They’re both multicultural – Brussels even more so than Berlin. We also noticed that there’s a lot of empty spaces here. We’ve heard that painters have left Berlin for Brussels because the studios are more affordable. So it seems like Brussels is what Berlin used to be five years ago, when you could find nice places for a cheap price. We haven’t partied here yet though, so we can’t say yet if Brussels is the new Berlin. What really struck us is the mix of languages. We went to a fritkot recently and heard a group of people ordering in a mix of Dutch, French and English. But we do know that even though people speak Dutch here, we’re not in the country of peanut butter but rather that of sauces!Kai and Katja’s pop-up store is located on 121 Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat (1000). starstyling.net