Inspiring Places: Hasselt
Belgunique talent Stéphanie Poppe is the soul behind the brand ArchiMuffin. As graphic designer she draws illustrations that are then used in her prints, on her cards and fashion accessories. What is her ambition as designer? To dare adults to dream again. In this chaotic world she tries to still hold on to her youth – a little nostalgia and innocence never hurt anyone!
A few weeks ago Stéphanie showed us around her hometown: Hasselt. We asked her to show us five places that inspire her and we were pleasantly surprised by all of the ones we visited. We would highly recommend a visit to this warm, welcoming city and a visit to Stéphanie’s favourite hangouts. There are two things they all have in common: serenity and art.
Ice cream parlour Valvekens
This ice cream parlour has been a favourite of Stéphanie’s for a very long time - from the tender age of two her grandmother brought her here for ice cream. Her grandmother lived in the same street, frequently taking the entire family for a feast of ice cream and pancakes, so this place harbours great memories of her childhood that come flooding back walking past it every time she is in town.
This ice cream parlour is in fact a bit of an institution in Hasselt – since 1933, people from both in and out of town know that it has been the place for ice cream. Despite the fact that they are known for their vanilla flavour, Stéphanie always has chocolate and pistachio.
A nostalgic place filled with sweet treats that is a must visit!
Iijssalen Valvekens, Aldestraat 16, 3500 Hasselt
You will find the old town hall in Hasselt on a small, picturesque square surrounded by trees and houses with antique facades. Still a true piece of Old Hasselt. Stéphanie considers this to be one of the coziest places in Hasselt. From Groenplein you can wonder in to Walputsteeg, a small, covered alley that is a throughway to the other side of town. You can also sit in one of the small cafes for coffee or a bite to eat and watch the world go by.
The ambiance here you will not find elsewhere – sitting at a small table, in a covered alley with your feet on a carpeted floor, people watching and just relaxing…
“De Walputsteeg is open but still very intimate. I love sitting there.”
Oude Stadshuis, Groenplein 1, 3500 Hasselt
The Fashion Museum
The fashion museum in Hasselt is a place Stéphanie loves to visit.
When we visited, Across Japan, an exhibition dedicated to Japanese fashion was on, giving visitors a deeper insight to the cross-pollination between Japanese and Western fashion from the 1980’s to today.
Stéphanie’s work as designer is at times inspired by Japanese culture and art, elements of which can be seen in some of her creations. Her grandfather worked in textiles and frequently travelled to Japan for work. She grew up listening in awe to the stories he would tell her of his travels, fuelling her passion and interest for Japan. Club de Rotée, a children’s TV show with Japanese animations and caricatures, was also a favourite of hers, further enhancing her life-long fascination with Japanese culture.
Het Modemuseum in Hasselt, Gasthuisstraat 11, 3500 Hasselt / Expo Across Japan until September 3rd
The Japanese Garden
The famous Japanese Garden in Hasselt also serves as a place of inspiration for Stéphanie. The vibrancy of colours in particular gives her ideas for her creations - lots of pastel greens and pinks are featured. The garden is at its most beautiful when it is filled with the cherry blossoms, creating a unique atmosphere. You can sit here, undisturbed, for hours.
As the garden is located a little outside of town it really does feel like you have entered another world, an oasis almost. You can also enjoy a typical Japanese tea or experience a more elaborate tea ceremony hosted in the traditional Japanese teahouse.
The history of the garden dates back to 1985 when Hasselt and the Japanese city Itami signed a social charter and became sister cities.
De Japanse Tuin, Groenplein 1, 3500 Hasselt
The new Courts of Justice
When travelling to Hasselt by train it is impossible to miss this monumental piece of architecture and the new court of justice attracts Stéphanie for exactly that reason. Stéphanie loves contrasting architecture in a city and this modern building complements the older, more authentic buildings that are found in Hasselt.
Situated next to Hasselt train station, the building was opened on September 1st 2011. The striking architecture of the new court of justice supports the accessibility of the justice system and fits perfectly in the cultural identity of Hasselt. The name Hasselt is in fact derived from ‘Hasaluth’ which means ‘hazel wood’.
“This building is very unique – it gives Hasselt the aura of a cosmopolitan city.”
Het gerechtsgebouw, Parklaan 25, 3500 Hasselt
Discover Stéphanie's work here.
Photo credits: Vincent Custers
“I want to give Belgian designers and producers a platform because their products and stories need to be shared. As a marketer, I want to help them find a market.”