As the summer draws to a close, there’s barely any time left to make it to one of Europe’s most creative pop-up shops of recent years.
Knokke might sound like rude slang to Anglophones, but it’s also a traditional seaside resort in fashion-obsessed Belgium. Well, it’s not that traditional: how many other sleepy seaside towns have their own Louis Vuitton shop? It is popular with an affluent design-conscious bourgeoisie, for many of whom it’s a preferred place to own a weekend or holiday home. Yep, it’s pretty much the Hamptons of Antwerp and Brussels.
In this perhaps unexpected location, this summer has seen a unique collaboration: Villa Gustav. Included in the temporary conversion of the Villa that was originally home to Gustave Siska, a local landmark known for its waffle treats, is Aktion II, the second pop-up shop of A F Vandervorst. The design duo from Antwerp noted for their deconstructionist flair and penchant for hospital imagery – whatever you do don’t miss the white chocolate pralines with Red Cross stylings- had great success with their earlier pop-up shop in a trendy area of Antwerp and have reinvented the magic beside the sea. In this case of Gustav, the former conservatory has been converted into one of their signature infirmary interiors in which to display their beautiful clothes, accessories and goodies.
At Villa Gustav, An and Filip have joined forces with another duo from the field of visual art in the form of Hoet Bekaert Gallery from Ghent. Hoet Bekaert is one of Belgium’s hottest young galleries and it has been undertaking a programme of changing site-specific exhibitions during the occupation of the Villa that will be demolished in the autumn to make way for a new hotel.
And, if that wasn’t enough, Gustav also provides for jewellery courtesy of Caroline Van Hoek’s art jewellery gallery, gorgeous vintage furniture courtesy of Furniture Love and a nifty café leading onto the beautifully dishevelled garden that has been made over into a temporary terrace, incorporating outdoor furniture by design practice Extremis.
What’s more, Knokke offers a plethora of treats for discerning shoppers and diners, so definitely worth a last-minute trip to the seaside.