Where to eat, drink or discover vinyl discs? Architect and illustrator Victor Selle answers the Quartier Questions of Saint-Gilles
Victor Selle is an architect and illustrator raised in Provence but living in Saint-Gilles since more than a year. In his free time he likes to spin vinyls, riding his bicycle and drawing repetitive stuff. We asked him about his favorite places in Saint-Gilles and how his illustration for Shirts in Brussels came about.
How long have you been living in Saint-Gilles?
‘I have been living in Saint-Gilles for one year and a half, before living in Ixelles. Eight years ago I moved from Aix-en-Provence to Brussels in light of my studies in Architecture at La Cambre. And since I was having a good time and made a lot of good friends, I stayed.’
How do you combine architecture with illustration?
‘Most of my time still goes to architecture but I try to combine it with illustration projects such as this one I’m happy about for Shirts in Brussels. I also still apply for project calls, such as the Heritage Days and an illustration festival in Prague. And for some architecture pitches, I get the chance to draw illustrations by hand as well.’
If we had one afternoon in your neighborhood, which three places in your quartier should we really go to?
'You should definitely go to Square Bethlehem. I included the circular kiosk on the shirt, by the way. I pass there often and find it a typical place of Saint-Gilles. This is where you see the local Saint-Gilles people hang around. It’s actually very different from Parvis de Saint-Gilles, not very far away where you see more new habitants, many bars and younger people. I find it intriguing how these places are so different.’
‘Another place I recommend is Place Marie Janson which locals refer to as Le carré de Moscou. I used to spend a lot of time there since I followed illustration courses in the evening at Académie des Beaux-Arts Jean-Jacques Gailliard. People even play petanque there.‘
‘Wherever you are in Saint-Gilles, you also often catch a glimpse of the Tour du Midi. We even see it from the morning until the evening in our apartment. With the different weather conditions and time this building seems to change the whole time. It can look gold from the sun and half an hour later it can have this pink glow of the sunset. I really started to love this emblematic tower more and more. This is also why I gave it a prominent place on the shirt.’
Where should I go to eat or a drink when discovering these places?
‘I moved to Saint-Gilles a little bit after the first lockdown so I haven’t been able to eat out a lot, but there are two places I really want to try. There is Café des Spores where you find mushrooms on every plate. And secondly Toki Doki, apparently a delicious Japanese restaurant.
‘For a drink I like to go to L’Union and Brasserie Verschueren, they have really nice terraces. If you would like to go a bit further from the Parvis, there is also a fun Portugese bar called Galletos.’
Is there something in your quartier, you cannot find anywhere else?
‘The Vinyl Record Shop Dust Dealers in Saint-Gilles, they are really a good reference for Jazz in Brussels. In my free time I like to mix electronic music and down tempo house so it’s great for me to get some inspiration there.’
Do you have a certain quartier habit?
‘Yes for a while I used to go to Marché du Midi a lot. Now we go often to l’Union on the corner of the Parvis de Saint-Gilles.’
Why do you love Saint-Gilles?
‘It’s a small neighborhood where you can find so many gorgeous art nouveau and art deco buildings. You can go shopping at Marche du Midi and there are plenty of little shops to discover. You also see this mix of people originally from the neighborhood from Saint-Gilles populaire and the change and gentrification that is going on.’
What would make your quartier even better?
‘Less cars and more places for pedestrians and cyclists. I enjoy seeing the initiatives for new cycle lanes in Brussels’
BEHIND THE ILLUSTRATION
How did this drawing come about? What was your thought process? Did you go for example to walk in your quartier? Was it difficult to bring all of your quartier in one image?
‘I know Saint-Gilles already pretty well, but took this project as an opportunity to get to know my neighborhood even better. I used to go for walks or bicycling rides for one or two hours after work and on the weekend to get more inspiration for this project. Like this, I also discovered new projects and buildings I hadn’t seen yet.’
‘In the beginning I selected two to three buildings that I really liked graphically as for example the Gas Station Cado N°1, but then realised this was not really emblematic for Saint-Gilles. At a certain moment I even had ideas going in all directions, but then decided to choose very recognisable buildings such as the Tour du Midi, Square Bethlehem and the church on Parvis de Saint-Gilles.’
‘Then I started drawing every building separately by hand. Afterwards, I drew them with Rotring-pens, these are pens with Chinese ink often used by architects to draw plans. Once this was finished, I scanned every illustration and started to compose them together on Photoshop. In parallel I also played with how the colours could come together. In the drawing you can see I chose blue and yellow which are the colours of football club Union Saint-Gilloise.’
Buy Parvis pour la Vie here