From the street, SOUQ’s huge plate glass windows don’t give much away. One peek inside though, and it’s clear that this is not your standard, cookie-cutter lifestyle store.
The conceptual lovechild of talented Antipodean husband and wife duo, Peter Kemp and Sophie Gargett, SOUQ Bali has got wow factor in the making. Its owners will tell you it is a labour of love, and we can see it’s coming together bit by fabulous bit.
The gigantic space on Jalan Seminyak is flanked by soft donkey-grey hued cement walls finished with cut lava stone. The interior details really pop: hand painted palm tree leaves on the ceiling, custom-made rattan furniture designed by Peter, a riot of pink watercolour flamingos in the bathroom. It’s all kinds of right.
The couple’s background certainly helped pave the creative way for this project.
“After living in Shanghai and working on our cashmere brand, KID, and also a number of interior projects in Shanghai, we realized we had access to so many beautiful things and had such a great little black book of design talent, that we really should do something with it,” Peter tells us.
“We considered opening a store in Shanghai but once we decided to move to Bali, and found this incredible building, everything just slotted into place.”
Sophie goes on to say, “We’re lucky. It’s not just down to us alone, there’re actually three of us in the business. We’ve got another great partner, Sigrid, who lives in Perth and has been instrumental in helping us make it all happen. It was actually Sigrid who came up with the name SOUQ.”
SOUQ translates as ‘marketplace’ in Arabic, which is the perfect description for this retail (and then some) destination.
A cosy café is tucked away in one corner, whilst on the other side of the room, racks of Jaclin Chouchana bikinis, MKANH lace slips and Laurence Pasquier staples (did someone mention that she makes the most perfectly cut white shirt?) offer a brand new retail experience for shoppers that are perhaps a little tired of the Seminyak loop.
“Before we opened, I couldn’t believe how many wonderful designers lived in Bali and were really flying under the radar, just not being represented with retail support,” says Sophie.
“Jaclin Chouchana is an Australian swimwear designer that has the most amazing background, working with Sonya Ryiel, Kenzo and Agnes B in Paris. She had an incredibly popular label in Australia many years ago that I adored. Then she seemed to totally disappear overnight and I often wondered why she had stopped designing. I’d heard on the grapevine that she lived here in Bali, and that was the impetus for me to hunt her down, which was no easy feat! I found her and begged her to put some pieces in here and the response we’ve had to the pieces has been amazing. So many people are saying how thrilled they are to find her bikinis again and asking me to pass on messages about how much they love her designs”
Peter’s pedigree in Sydney’s tough-as-nails foodie and hospitality scene, through his success as a partner in acclaimed restaurant Fish Face and iconic nightlife venue The Grand Pacific Blue Room, coupled with Sophie’s dedication to chemical-free, sustainably produced and locally sourced ingredients, it’s safe to say that the well-edited and tight menu at Souq is a winner.
Think bagels with hand-potted Australian salmon and cream cheese for breakfast, house-made organic pork sausage rolls (yes, organic pork, right here in Bali!) and chunky Sicilian tuna salad for the lunch crowd. Pre-dinner snacks include a plate of organic burrata with slow roasted tomatoes, thyme and lemon, along with plaited cheese scones and organic chicken parfait for those that like to graze.
Basically, they had us at organic burrata and pink flamingos in the bathroom. This is a must.
SOUQ, Jalan Basangkasa #10, Seminyak (at the end of Jl Seminyak, near the corner of Jl Mertanadi. Entry on two sides including directly from Jl Sunset as well). Opening hours: 7am – 9pm, p. +62 822 3780 1817
Parking is available on both sides – directly in front on Jl. Basangkasa and also from Jl. Sunset.