Can you describe what you do? Where you are based, the neighbourhood you live in, your daily routine, the people you work with, the scene you feel the closest to.
I own Von Yellow, a niche PR agency based in the heart of the city, in the Aalmoezenierstraat. The agency specialises in design, fashion and lifestyle and is housed in my own home, built by the daughter of late Jo Crepain. My colleague Sayrade and me either work from here or from the offices of one of our clients, like photographers agency Initials LA, Graanmarkt 13, design duo Muller Van Severen or the new high end coworking space Fosbury & Sons. They all happen to have unbelievable offices. Aesthetics are very important in everything we do and we only work for clients that share that same feeling and clients/people we really admire. Before work I bring my daughter to daycare at Sint Andries, which is only three minutes away from my doorstep. Most of my favourite places are extremely close to where I live and work: Camino, Native, Buchbar, Tinsel, Me & My Monkey, In de Roscam, Barbel, Dries Van Noten, Copyright Bookstore,…Everything I love is in very close proximity: my family, the best shops, the nicest little eateries, cafés – just perfect!
How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?
Antwerp is a village and I love that. It’s very easy to get around and to know everybody. Living in a large capital would make me restless. Here I have the feeling that I sort of manage to fit all the cultural activities I want to do in my agenda. To me it’s perfect. Although, but that’s a national problem, it needs to be said that it’s a shame that culture is getting less and less funding.
Contrary to what people often say about ‘Antwerpians’, I find A-towners to be modest people who work hard in order to achieve things.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
I think the combination of its compact size and its versatility. Because of its size, it’s more than feasible to really do something, the competition isn’t too harsh. However the city still has a lot to offer. We have the best fashion school, some great cultural temples like Het Toneelhuis, a few great art galleries, some really avant garde concepts such as Graanmarkt 13, great architecture by ‘Antwerpians’ like Vincent Van Duysen, the late Renaat Braem and Leon Stynen, and so on.
How would you say Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?
Antwerp has always been my playground. Contrary to what people often say about ‘Antwerpians’, I find A-towners to be modest people who work hard in order to achieve things. Might be because they compare themselves with metropoles like Paris, London and Amsterdam, which are less modest of course.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
I would like to see more funds go into culture (theatre in particular) and I would love for the city to put more efforts in encouraging people to come up with new initiatives, ideas and projects, for example by offering them housing at low prices (and not only in bad neighbourhoods). More efforts should also go into promoting everything that’s local instead of the big clothing and supermarket chains. An initiative like the ‘Share Shop’ in Frome (UK), for instance, which is a ‘library of things’. And last but definitely not least I would like to see less sad sad measures like the taxes on image-lowering businesses, that not only take down people who don’t have the money to pay for these extra costs (the exact purpose of the measure of course) but also the greatest video library of all times: Video Take Out.
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?
I would take them to the Saturday market, have some Moroccan pancakes and ‘kaaskroketten’, pass by Graanmarkt 13 (or even better, have them stay at their penthouse) to end with some ‘boerkes’ or ‘karmelieten’ at de Varkenspoot or De Duifkes.vonyellow.be Photography Thomas Ost